Caitlin had signed up for Facebook after she had married, as Caitlin Shaw. To make it easier for friends to find her, she wanted to add her maiden name —Batman.

Facebook's name-change procedure suddenly required superhuman effort. Because after Caitlin Batman Shaw, a therapist in Arlington, Virginia, submitted the online form, she received a response rejecting her.

The faceless gatekeepers of Facebook had decided her name could not be real. “The process took me three weeks before she was able to use her full legal name.

She can join the Yodas, the Christmases, the Pancakes and all the other wannabe Facebookers whose online rejections represent the latest in a lifetime of name shame.

And really, what's the point of Facebook if you can't be yourself?

“Try making a reservation at restaurants,'' says Tim Six. “I would like a table for Six at 5 for three.'' The software developer from Springfield, Virginia, was hardly surprised when Facebook rejected his application for an account.

“I think they think we're trying to run a breakfast scam or something,'' says Bess Pancake, who, along with her sister and father, spent days trying to convince customer service that she was not a waffle shop on the prowl (Relationship Status: It's sticky).

Super, Six and Pancake were all eventually awarded accounts after appealing their rejections with Facebook but that doesn't address the real indignity.

People such as them have endured decades of name-related annoyance. And when they accepted their own identity — to share it with the world and connect via Facebook — they were prevented from joining the virtual sandbox. Grade school all over again.

Facebook is “clearly not in touch with the sometimes eccentric names that people have''. Facebook, via e-mails, won't say how many names are on its blocked list or how often names are rejected.

It occasionally happens when it appears the chances of fraud are greater than the chances that someone is really named that way.

A name such as Batman gets flagged by Facebook because, writes spokeswoman Meredith Chin, the number of real Batmans is probably “fewer than the number of people who could potentially misuse the name on the site''.

The network is based on “real people making real connections'', according to another spokeswoman, Kathleen Loughlin, and so the company has various safeguards to prevent those saboteurs of the online world.

Often, the rejection can be overturned with a few e-mails to customer service, sometimes resulting in a nice explanation and apology.

But sometimes, the back-and-forth seems too daunting and Facebook users resort to evasive tactics. There are several Facebook users with the pathetic, crippled surname “Lchristmas'', because “Christmas'' is sometimes a blocked name.

After several failed exchanges with customer service, Miranda Batman decided her real name wasn't worth pursuing.

Facebook had requested she fax a copy of her driver's licence and she worried about security.

Miranda signed up as “Miranda Stewart'', using her husband's bachelor surname. Facebook accepted the fake name. “Which is so ironic,'' the nursing student says.

“Because that's what they're trying to prevent.'' The only way for Miranda to overcome accusations of fraud was by committing fraud.

The longer Miranda held on to the fake-name account, the more ridiculous it seemed. Her friends — the ones she had joined Facebook to reconnect with — knew her as Miranda Batman and were searching for her under that name.

As Miranda Stewart, she couldn't connect with anyone.

Finally, a lawyer friend agreed to intercede on her behalf and after a few legalese e-mails, Miranda was awarded the right to use her real name. Ridiculously, it felt like a coup.