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What Does Facebook Have Against Captain Awesome?

Dec 15, 2010 – 5:35 PM
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Joe Peacock

Joe Peacock Contributor

(Dec. 15) -- The entire world now knows him as Captain Awesome.

The man who was once Douglas Allen Smith Jr., mild-mannered cabinet installer from Eugene, Ore., has undergone a transformation. He's not only legally changed his name to Captain Awesome, legally changed his signature to two arrows pointing at a smiley face [ -> ^_^ <- ] and changed his profession to "Outrageous Ordained Minister," he's also electrified the Internet and blogosphere with his story.

"I never expected it to go international," the 27-year-old Mr. Awesome told AOL News. "At first, when doing the story with the local paper, I thought that they just needed filler stories or something on a slow news day."
Captain Awesome
Courtesy Captain Awesome
Captain Awesome, formerly Douglas Allen Smith Jr., found it difficult to change his name on Facebook, especially after facing no trouble anywhere else. Here, he's shown at Depot Bay in Oregon.

But then his story hit the news wires and suddenly he was the talk of the Internet. On sites such as Boing Boing, Fark and Reddit, people were talking about Captain Awesome.

Some were dismissive. One user at Deadspin said (misspellings and all), "i have a big lewbowski tattoo, 4 star wars tattoos & a hula girl tattoo... Changing your name to Captain Awesome is the dumbest thing I have ever heard of."

But Awesome isn't bothered. "I have always thought that being a junior was lame! Not that I don't respect my father and his name, but that's not who I am," he said.

And it seems that most people love the new name.

Awesome's grandmother, who wished only to go by Grandmom, told AOL News that she thinks it's pretty silly. "I don't understand it," she said. "But he's my grandson; I love and support him."

Although we were unable to reach them for comment, his parents think the entire thing is great and have already taken to calling him by his new name, both Awesome and his grandmother told me.

He successfully changed his name from Douglas Smith to Captain Awesome with the state of Oregon, AT&T, all of his utility providers and even his newspaper-delivery service.
Captain Awesome document
Courtesy Captain Awesome
Pictured is the official documentation from Lane County in Oregon, where Douglas Allen Smith Jr. changed his name to Captain Awesome.

Everywhere except Facebook.

"I cannot get them to change my real name to Captain Awesome," he said. He explained that he's not only tried the official Facebook name-change form but has also sent e-mails to Facebook's help team, legal team and the address information in the WhoIs database.

This has really hurt his new business as an "Extreme Ordained Minister," performing novelty wedding and vow-renewal services. In this economy, even Captain Awesome is feeling the pinch, and the inability to market through mediums such as Facebook with his new legal name has put a dent in the Captain's plans.

"On Facebook, I'm still Doug Smith. I wanted to change my name to something that reflects who I am as a person." And that person is now Captain Awesome.

But Facebook has automated checks to determine what is typed into its name-change form in user profile management. Awesome can set his nickname or middle name to his new legal name, but, according to WikiHow (and several other sites found during a quick Google search for "Change Facebook Name"), Facebook will not allow words like "Captain" and "Awesome" in the first or last name fields. AOL News has reached out to Facebook through several channels and has yet to hear back on the subject of changing names to nonstandard words.

This isn't a black mark against Facebook. If anything, the service can be commended for having such a strong system of checks to determine that people are who they say they are.

But that doesn't help Awesome very much. "I guess in the digital world, until they get around to my request, I just have to be plain old Doug."

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