Facebook tweaks its contentious ‘real name’ policy

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Facebook Makes Minor Tweaks To “Real Name” Policy.

The company has announced two primary changes. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

Currently, in order to “confirm” your name if it’s been reported as fake, Facebook requires you to provide a checklist of documents—including forms of ID, bank statement, IRS receipts, etc.—making it nearly impossible for many to regain access to their suspended profiles. 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. 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.

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. 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.

Provide users with the ability to submit this information using PGP or another common form of encrypted communication, so they may protect their identity information during the submission process.” By default, Facebook uses a secure connection (https) when people use our service.

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