Facebook has been engulfed in a controversy around its real name policy for over a year now. Hence, the social networking giant has announced that it’ll be testing a few changes to its username policy to give members of minority communities more flexibility regarding giving their real names.
Facebook essentially wants its users to log in with their real names. The company feels this important as it increases accountability and reduces instances that involve harassing, bullying and other criminal activities. Though some users, especially from the LGBT community feel it’s not right for them to use their real names on Facebook in order to avoid harassment and other personal issues. Hence, Facebook has now decided to make some exceptions to its real name policy.
The social networking giant is now testing a new tool to improve the policy so that it works in a more effective way for all parties involved. It essentially requires people who flag other profiles with fake names to give more context along with a reason as to why they are complaining. As earlier, reporting a fake name was rather simple.
Moreover, Facebook is also testing a counter tool that allows users who’ve been flagged to defend themselves, so they can provide their reasons as to why they are using a different or drag names. They will then have a week to shed more light about their situation before their accounts are suspended.
“In addition to these two improvements, over the last year, we made several other changes to our processes to make sure they work for everyone. We expanded the options and documents that everyone on Facebook can use to verify their name. We started rolling out a new process in which people will have access to their account for seven days while they verify or update their name. We also implemented additional security protections for documents that people share with us when they are verifying their name,” Facebook VP of Global Operations Justin Osofsky and Product Manager Todd Gage wrote on Facebook’s blog.
These tools are currently undergoing testing on a “limited basis” only in the US for mobile as well as desktop. Facebook says they’ll be rolled globally based on the feedback it receives during the testing process.
To recall, the whole debacle began last year when drag performers in San Francisco were restricted access to their Facebook accounts. Someone had reported that they were using their stage names instead of their real names. Most of these performers were from the LGBT community who gave many valid reasons as to why were using fake names on Facebook, which include harassment and mental abuse.