"Proper” Profiles. On Facebook’s investment in the autobiographical genre.

Susanne Fuchs


The term “Fake profile” was invented by the press to designate Facebook-profiles that do not represent the life of their authors, but are instead used for depictions of alter egos or fictional characters. The following article investigates how the term “Fake profile” introduces a genre-designation that causes its alleged opposite, the “proper” profile to emerge. Put in conversation with Jacques Derrida’s discussion of the law of genre and Michel Foucault’s questioning of the referential function of the name of the author it becomes apparent, that the difference between “fake” and “proper” cannot be sustained; the signature of the author does not stabilize the relationship between the writer and the contents of the written text. It is ironically the company’s own attempt to guarantee the “authenticity” of the profiles established on the platform through a real name requirement, that draws attention to the impossibility of the fixation of this relation. The article examines in how far the suspension of genre-designations (fake and proper) causes the unease with which online-identities are generally regarded within the press and the Academic discourse.


This article was submitted on July 22nd 2015 and published on May 24th 2916.


Facebook; Autobiography; Genre Theory; Author Function

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5463/ejlw.5.102

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