Facebook reforms 'real name' policy


Facebook changes its ‘real name’ policy after complaints it was used to ban trans people and drag queens

Last year Facebook pledged to make changes to its policy that requires people to use their real-life identity on the site.

The decision came after protestors claimed the site’s ‘fake name’ reporting option had been used to target trans people and drag queens. This led to many people being banned as they have no ‘proof’ of their true identity.

Today, Facebook announced that it would make changes to prevent the abuse of certain groups of people.

Justin Osofsky, Vice President of Global Operations said: “When people use the names they are known by, their actions and words carry more weight because they are more accountable for what they say.

“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. We’re firmly committed to this policy, and it is not changing. 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. That’s why we’re continuing to make improvements in this area.”

In a post on the platform, Mr Osofsky added: “Today, we will begin to test new tools that address two key goals. First, we want to reduce the number of people who are asked to verify their name on Facebook when they are already using the name people know them by. Second, we want to make it easier for people to confirm their name if necessary. These tools have been built based on many conversations with community leaders and safety organizations around the world.”

The new tool gives people the option to select a circumstance that may cause them to use a name other that that which they are usually known as – such as being lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender or queer; an ethnic minority; or affected by abuse, stalking or bullying.

Osofsky said: “People can let us know they have a special circumstance, and then give us more information about their unique situation. This additional information will help our review teams better understand the situation so they can provide more personalized support. This information will also help inform potential improvements we can make in the future.”

The process of reporting ‘fake names’ will also grow more complex. Facebook explained they are introducing a new version of the ‘names reporting process’ that requires people to explain why they are reporting a name.

“In the past, people were able to simply report a ‘fake name’ but now they will be required to go through several new steps that provide us more specifics about the report,” Osofsky said.

© 2015 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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