Facebook rewrites “fake name” rules

Posted on December 21, 2015


Facebook has announced policy changes to its “real name” requirement following criticism from domestic abuse victims and transgender people.

The social media network has a zero tolerance approach to pseudonyms, and insists that people use their real name for their account. However, this caused problems for people who had changed their name, especially those who adopted an alias as part of fleeing from an abusive ex-partner.

A San Francisco coalition of drag artists began to put pressure on the company in 2015, with one performer, Sister Roma, saying the being forced to use a birth name instead of a stage name was “unfair, hurtful, discriminatory and an invasion of privacy”.

Facebook’s new system will involve asking for more information from those reporting other users for having a pseudonym, including the reason they are filing a report. Critics of the old policy said that they were targets of the same bullies that the ban on anonymity was meant to weed out.

From now on, users who are flagged for having a fake name will have the opportunity to explain their situation, including the options “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer” and “affected by abuse, stalking or bullying”. Users will also have a week to access their profile while their case is being considered, rather than being banned outright.

In a statement, the company wrote that it was still committed to having a verified name linked to an account, but added:

“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.”

  • […] assume they are correct, because you may be able to justify what you’ve written. For example, in this article we posted last December, one reader was surprised that we had used the word ‘queer’. We checked […]

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