Facebook’s reply to the ‘open letter’ on ‘real name’ policy

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Chris Cox.

The company has announced two primary changes. I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.Facebook has responded to a letter signed by a the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and ACLU of California, requesting that it change its controversial “real name policy,” which requires that people use their legal name on Facebook. First, the site will now allow users to provide additional context and explanation for using the name they do when confirming their accounts. “It will also help us better understand the reasons why people can not currently confirm their name, informing potential changes we make in the future,” he aadded.

In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. 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. This has been done to dissuade people from frivolously flagging profiles, which locks the targeted user out of their profile until they can confirm they are who they say they are. 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. 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.

These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail.

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. We’ve had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it’s done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here. 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.

Part of what’s been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook. 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.

A review of our reports from earlier this year showed that bullying, harassment or other abuse on Facebook is eight times more likely to be committed by people using names other than their own than by the rest of the Facebook community. The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it’s both terrifying and sad. Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.

All that said, we see through this event that there’s lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who’s real and who’s not, and the customer service for anyone who’s affected. With this input, we’re already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we’re taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way.

That’s why we’re making changes now and in the future, and will continue to engage with you and all who are committed to looking after the most vulnerable people using our product. It’s a balance to get this right — we want to find a line that minimizes bullying but maximises the potential for people to be their authentic selves on Facebook. Historically, when people were prompted to confirm their Facebook profile name, there was no opportunity to give additional details or context on their unique situation. Pages have much of the same functionality as personal profiles: you can like and comment on posts, message people privately and have an unlimited network of connections.

We know that this solution does not work for everyone, but believe this product may be useful to people who do not want to use their personal profiles for advocacy. This could include allowing users to submit written evidence, answer multiple-choice questions, or provide alternative documentation such as links to blog posts or other online platforms where they use the same identity.” Facebook no longer requires government IDs to verify people’s identity.

Request 4: “Give users technical details and documentation on the process of submitting identity information such as where and how it is stored, for how long, and who can access it.

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