Facebook is Changing the Way it Enforces its Real Name Policy

To realise this move, the new system will first need additional information in the course of reporting someone who is indulging in the use of false name, so that it provides different options for impostors, fictional characters, as well as simply unexpected names.

Facebook identification process

Facebook identification process

Quickly after this report is filed, the user concerned here will get notifications and will be given a week ultimatum to respond before any action is possibly taken. Facebook has also put in place a specialized support team assigned to the task of helping users through the process, giving personal attention to what for a long time has been a more mechanical process.

Facebook has quickly added the note here that the new system wouldn’t necessarily imply a change in the real name policy itself, as it wouldn’t obstruct the needed procedures of users using the same name on Facebook that they use in real life. Yet in face of this, Facebook is banking on the fact that the new process would do a lot to address many of the concerns as well as bring in the opportunity for consequent improvements in the future. “Throughout this process, we will continue our ongoing conversations with the Facebook community so they can share their thoughts on improvements they’d like to see,” the company said in its official post.


For some time past, Facebook has been victim to criticism from a number of false account flagging incidents, most infamously after the company had embarked on the disabling of a number of San Francisco drag queens in 2014. Although Facebook were quick to lift most high-profile suspensions once it was brought to Facebook’s attention, but then they shined the concerns into worthy consideration about how less press-savvy users could possibly go through the system.

Facebook has put heads together with a number of human rights groups while trying to design this new system, among them are the likes of Human Rights Campaign and GLAAD. Though it would be too quick to tell how the new system would get their hands across many of the high-profile cases from the past year, but then the addition of human oversight to the mix should help Facebook with the possibility of resolving the issues without the need to thoroughly cut off off access.

In truth, the real name policy has also added the inconvenience of problems in case of stalking and abuse, yet those instances in time past has garnered reduced press coverage. Possible focus of sustained abuse at times avoid using their legal names for reasons pertaining to privacy, but until now there has been less guidance as to how to really make this agree with Facebook’s policy. The new system will have a Name Verification step, which will reveal reported users exactly as to how their name will appear on Facebook prior to making any changes.


Some of Facebook’s front-line famous critics have already gave credit to the change — including Access Now, well famous as they had strongly questioned the real name policy as part of the Nameless Coalition earlier this year. Most emphatically, Access aired their opinion that the changes could possibly cut down on politically motivated brigade reporting in many countries, and laying the supporting bed for a global rollout as soon as possible. “Adversaries will have to actually put some effort into abusing the platform, rather than just clicking the first button that pops up,” the group said in a statement. “Setting up an appeal mechanism is no small feat, and we encourage Facebook to make this process as transparent as possible and invite input from a range of stakeholders to provide input on its design.”

We must recognize here that the new changes also don’t really settle aspects like the forms of identification Facebook makes use of in the verification of a person’s name. Facebook’s policy asks for “the name you use in real life” other than than a user’s legal name, but for the fact that verification demands third-party documents that are gotten sourced from a person’s legal name — like utility bill  — there’s often almost an insignificant difference in practice.

Still, Facebook bears the hope to create increased flexibility in the process in the future, on the lookout for new forms of ID that the system could make use of in verifying users without opening the door to abuse. “We want to create the best experience that we can for everyone,” the post reads, “and we will continue to make improvements until everyone can use the name that their friends and family know them by.”

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