Facebook is making a big change to a controversial policy

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Makes Minor Tweaks To “Real Name” Policy.

Face the facts: You have to use your real name on Facebook. The groups argue that the policy is culturally biased against people who are transgender, have safety concerns about using their real names, or have legal names that don’t meet Facebook’s standard of “real names.” While the company still won’t commit to allowing pseudonyms, it has decided to introduce process improvements for those who are unfairly removed from the service for using a name by which people know them. In a published letter obtained by BuzzFeed, Facebook’s vice president of growth, Alex Schultz, acknowledged that the current policy doesn’t work for everyone, and that many have complained to Facebook that the process of verifying their name is too difficult. The social network has been widely criticized by many who have very legitimate, normal reasons to use a name that differs from what they’re officially called. This comes more than a year after chief product officer Chris Cox apologized to the LGBTQ community for “the hardship that [Facebook] put [them] through in dealing with [their] Facebook accounts.” Cox continued by saying, “We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.” Earlier this month, the Electronics Frontier Foundation (EFF), the American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and dozens of organizations in the U.S. and abroad sent an open letter to Facebook calling on it to fix its broken policy. “It’s time for Facebook to provide equal treatment and protection for all who use and depend on Facebook as a central platform for online expression and communication,” the letter said.

These changes will take effect in December, according to a letter Facebook released today in response to criticism by a coalition of civil rights groups. “This should help our Community Operations team better understand the situation,” said Schultz. “It will also help us better understand the reasons why people can’t currently confirm their name, informing potential changes we make in the future.” Since Facebook’s launch, LGBT folks, especially drag queens and members of the trans community, have opted not to use their “real name” in order to avoid online harassment. Additionally, users could soon see a new version of Facebook’s profile reporting process that’ll ask for more information about why someone is requesting action be taken on an account. Why this matters: Despite the minor changes, Facebook reaffirmed that its “real names” policy is not going away any time soon—and that it actually protects people from being cyber bullied by fake or anonymous accounts. “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.

In the next month, Facebook “will be gathering additional feedback from the community to make sure we are on the right track,” Schultz wrote, according to BuzzFeed. So, you won’t just be able to troll around Facebook and spam “not a real name” requests—you’ll have to offer up some kind of reason as to why, exactly, you’re reporting a person’s profile.

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