Facebook’s real name policy: What cyberbullying activists and drag queens …

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook announces major changes to ‘real name’ policy.

Facebook altered its “real name” policy Tuesday amid a heated debate between the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community and cyberbullying activists. Facebook has announced it will be making extensive changes to its “real name” policy following criticism from civil liberties groups across the world.

Facebook is making changes to a policy requiring people to use their real names, after complaints that it causes people from certain communities, such as individuals with aboriginal names, to have their accounts suspended.Facebook’s controversial ‘real names’ policy has been tweaked to make it easier for people with pseudonyms or unfamiliar names to use the social network. The social media website tried to find a middle ground between the two arguments this week, announcing two new initiatives that aim to reconcile online security with freedom of speech. Among the changes is a new tool that will allow people who are asked to verify their name to say they are in a special circumstance, for example, that they are: When the company receives a complaint about a possible fake name, it requires the user to verify that their name is real by providing copies of identification, such as a driver’s licence. The company requries users to go by their legal or “authentic” names, which it says makes people accountable for their actions and roots out bullying.

First, Facebook will revise their name reporting policy so users will have to answer several specific questions when reporting someone’s profile as fake. Secondly, Facebook users will be provided with new ways to verify the authenticity of their name, beyond the original requirements of credit cards or state IDs. “We’re firmly committed to this policy, and it is not changing,” vice president of global operations Justin Osofsky wrote in a Facebook press release. “However, after hearing feedback from our community, we recognize that it’s also important that this policy works for everyone, especially for communities who are marginalized or face discrimination.” “Anonymity on the Internet sets us free,” explains the awareness campaign Watch Your Space. “When a bully has the power to harass someone anonymously, the consequences can be disastrous.” Facebook agrees.

The policy has seen many accounts suspended because members went by a different name to the one they were born with, or just because they have been reported by online trolls. Other changes made by Facebook during the past year include expanding options for verifying names and letting people keep access to social network accounts while going through the process. “Early in the new year, we will be looking at other ways we can reduce the number of people who have to go through an ID verification experience, while preserving the safety of other people on the site,” Gage and Osofsky said. The company said it had already made a number of improvements over the last year, such as allowing people to keep using their accounts for seven days while they verify or update their name. In response to criticism, Facebook said it was testing new options that will make it more difficult for individuals to be targeted online, and allow users to explain why they are using a certain name on Facebook.

The coalition also asked the site to make the way it asks people to confirm their identities easier and to be more transparent about how the process is run allowing for a proper appeals process if it goes wrong. The site undermines their true identity. “I’ve been Sister Roma for 27 years,” a drag queen and well-known LGBT personality told Ars Technica last year. “If you ask anyone my name, in or out of drag, they will tell you it’s Roma. That’s why we’re continuing to make improvements in this area.” “It also makes it harder for bullies to anonymously smear the reputations of others, or anyone else to use an anonymous name to harass, scam or engage in criminal behavior.”

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