Going by a pseudonym on Facebook? The company's new policy wants to stop you from using a phony name on your profile.
Facebook wants to ensure that users are using their real names on their profiles. The company has rolled out a verification process to ensure that users are actually using their real names, but their policy was met with serious public backlash this summer. According to a report from Venture Beat, the company will roll out adjustments to their verification process this December, hoping to streamline the process and make it easier for users to navigate.
Facebook’s Vice President of Growth, Alex Schultz, acknowledged users’ grievances with the complicated verification process in a published letter. Facebook has had similar problems with profile features in the past, like last year’s snafu with the LGBT community. Chief Product Officer Chris Cox issued a public apology for the hardship users underwent while sorting out their profiles.
Cox said, “We owe you a better service and abetter 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 Electronics Frontier Foundation, The American Civil Liberties Union, Human Rights Watch, and a long list of other organizations sent an open letter to the company earlier this month, urging Facebook to improve their user verification process and fix their real name policy. The letter called for the company to provide equal treatment and protection for the people who use the website for expression and communication.
The letter aims to defend transgender and gender variant Facebook users, who often use pseudonyms to protect their real identity out of fear of violence in the real world. The letter calls Facebook’s standard definitions of a “real name” arbitrary and asserts that these users are silenced from using the platform.
Schultz’s letter addressed these points, saying that the company’s policy wasn’t to require people to use their “government” names, but simply a name that other people recognize them by. The new verification process will be more open to people who have various reasons for not using their given name on their Facebook profile.
Users may also see an updated reporting process that will gather more information about requests for action on other accounts. Many people complain of having their accounts suspended pending the submission of identifying information, and the updated policy seeks to address this problem.
Schultz reiterated that the information used to identify profiles is encrypted and deleted after 30 days, but it’s easy to see why people still feel uncomfortable submitting this information just to use a social network.
According to a post from Chris Cox’s Facebook profile,
“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.”