I should have known better from the quotes he gave, but the story of the Australian-Vietnamese man named Phuc Dat Bich being repeatedly banned from Facebook turns out to be a hoax. The Melbourne man, whose actual name appears to be Tin Le, posted the photo of a doctored passport with the story of being banned from Facebook way back in January according to the Guardian, and it took until mid-November for the post to go viral and suddenly get international press. And no journalist ever interviewed the man they thought was named Bich directly, or confirmed that he was real, only using the quotes gleaned from Facebook which included, "Is it because I'm Asian?"
Now, he says via Facebook, "Out of this ordeal I've concluded not to trust the credibility of the media, it's twisted by the hungry journalists who mask the truth ... It goes to show that an average joe like myself can con the biggest news sources with ease."
Le said it all began as a joke between friends, and he made the post to highlight the inherent shortcomings of Facebook's "real name" policy and their policing around it. "Facebook needs to understand," he writes, "that it is utterly impossible to legitimise a place where there will always be pranksters and tricksters."
Of course that is exactly what Facebook has tried to do, claiming that they have to verify peoples' identities in order to make the network "safe." It is a pretty impossible task, however, and I know that just in order to protect their own privacy at least 20 percent of my friends use assumed last names, or their middle names as last names, to avoid being searchable on the site.
Le adds that he only wanted "to make a point" and "to make people happy" with his post, and as of this morning had not yet changed his Facebook name back his actual name.
As the BBC notes, Le is himself of Vietnamese origin.
And as pointed out last week, and as Facebook surely knows, Phuc and Bich are very common names in Vietnam, and are pronounced like "foo" and "bi" or "beak."