Facebook Fixes ‘Real Name’ Policy
Well, that was fast.
Earlier this year, Facebook started going after users who didn’t use their real name on the social networking site, even canceling some accounts. Now, after a sea of backlash and complaints, the social networking site has rescinded the policy and will allow users to go with whatever name they want.
In their never-ending quest to force the world to abolish privacy, Facebook oddly targeted users who used a name other than their actual birth name. To them, it was a brilliant idea. In reality, it was an awful idea.
Facebook never considered that celebrities might need a private account to use with their family and friends. They never considered the many women who fled violent relationships and needed to use an alternate identity for their own physical safety. They also never considered the many citizens who were born male, but are now female — and vice-versa. As far as FB was concerned, Caitlyn Jenner would have to register and appear on the social networking site as Bruce Jenner, despite the sex change.
Needless to say, the dumb policy angered thousands, forcing the social media giant to rethink its “real names” policy. So, beginning this month, you will be able to change your FB name to match whatever identity you want. Facebook users who want to use a name other than their legal name will be able to provide context and additional details as to why. Also, users who are reporting a profile name they believe to be fake will be required to provide their reasoning.
According to Alex Schultz, Facebook’s vice president of growth, the changes are in response to criticism by a coalition of civil rights groups, members of the LGBT community, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and other activist and advocacy groups who called the real name policy overly simplified and technically flawed.
“We want to reduce the number of people who are asked to verify their name on Facebook, when they are already using the name people know them by,” Schultz said. “We want to make it easier for people to confirm their name if necessary.”
Since Facebook launched, members of the LGBT community, particularly drag queens and transsexuals, have opted not to use their “real name” in order to avoid online harassment. However, the staunch policy of removing fake profiles has unfairly targeted these users, according to civil rights groups Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch and the ACLU.
Currently, in order to “confirm” a name if it has been reported as fake, Facebook requires users to provide a checklist of documents—including several forms of ID, bank statement, IRS receipts and more, making it nearly impossible for many to regain access to their suspended profiles.
Now (thankfully), that will all change.
Despite the changes, Facebook reaffirmed that its “real names” policy will remain in effect so as to protect people from being cyber bullied by fake or anonymous accounts. They will just be more lax in enforcing it.
“When people use the name others know them by, they are more accountable for what they say, making it more difficult to hide behind an anonymous name to harass, bully, spam or scam someone else,” Schultz said.