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Facebook Privacy Your Rights Online

Facebook Tweaks Its "Real Names" Policy (thestack.com) 114

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has announced a US-based trial of minor changes to its controversial process of name verification, apparently in response to last year's controversy over LGBT and transgender users who were penalized for determining their own identity.

The post about the changes reveals that users who report someone else for using a 'fake' name can now provide more background information, and that users who have been asked to confirm their identity by uploading documents, such as a passport or birth certificate, can now also provide additional background information for Facebook to take into account.

This article argues that a frivolous social network should not be allowed to co-opt government-level identity checks simply because it began life in the university arena, and has telescoped the necessary supervision of teenagers transiting to adulthood into a far wider and more diverse network of users.

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Facebook Tweaks Its "Real Names" Policy

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  • A right? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @07:01PM (#51134003)

    is a disposition towards citizen identity that is usually only allowed to governments

    I don't get this idea that doing this level of check is somehow a restricted right. No one is being forced to use facebook, if they want to require users send them a blood sample, their left tooth, and 5 million dollars to keep their account, I don't see how they shouldn't be "allowed" to demand this. At what points does facebook become something to which fair access to is governed by law (not snark, really curious.. I know there are laws regarding say, restricting access to a restaurant, so possible some of those apply?)

    Personally I strongly dislike this recent trend of pushing the use of your real identity, especially with recent actual occurrences of people being harassed in real life due to online activities. It's one of the many reasons I choose not to use facebook (the other being I find whatever voodoo they do to recommend friends disturbing, I signed up with fake info awhile back and it started recommending people I actually did know from both family and work.. which honestly creeped me the fuck out). I don't feel like my rights are being violated though.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KGIII ( 973947 )

      The Libertarian in me says they're not violating any law and you are not actually required by law to make use of their services. Thus, it is their property. They can require you only type with your left thumb, type without capital letters, use a real name, provide proof, or pay any sum they insist they want you to pay. You are, of course, free to not make use of their services. Until such time as they're forced, by law, to be used then they're free to make any and all stupid choices they want that are still

      • Re:A right? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Pseudonym ( 62607 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:08PM (#51134625)

        You have choices.

        Yes, you do, and many of the choices that you have involve attempting to persuade Facebook to change its policies.

        You are free to publicly protest their rules. You are free to state your case about why you think Facebook's requirements are ridiculous. You are free to publicly shame them if you believe they are acting in a way contrary to social moires or the moral sensibilities of their target audience. You have the right to tell the world that Facebook is just a web site and maybe it should get over itself.

        You even have the right to rant in Slashdot comments. Truly, the Internet is a grand place to be.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > You can opt-out of participation.

        Considering that facebook builds shadow profiles [ibtimes.com] of people who have chosen not to create accounts [makeuseof.com] I have to call bullshit - a big steaming pile of bullshit - on you.

      • Re:A right? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mlts ( 1038732 ) on Thursday December 17, 2015 @01:10AM (#51135249)

        The problem is that social network sites are becoming required for things, such as having a job, arranging meetings, group conversations, messaging, and other items.

        I know I lost a job interview because I didn't have a Twitter account, and the interview called me a "fossil" because of that. (I really don't need Twitter because I have better things to do with my time) So, social media is important, and is moving to almost a message board for everyone.

        It gets me wondering about someone setting up a social network, registering as a common carrier (so they are not responsible for people's hate speech.) Then, with a reputation system (person "A" is a friend of person "B" who sets person "A"'s opinion weight at 1.0. Person trolls person "A" who blocks person "C"... person "B" then auto-blocks person "C" as the reputation propagates.) Of course, something needs to be done about speech not protected by the 1A or equivalent (threats of bodily harm or damage), but with a reputation system in place, a troll would wind up completely ignored after a while as negative reputations propagate.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Requested, not really required. You have options. Stop letting people, including yourself, forget that.

        • I know I lost a job interview because I didn't have a Twitter account, and the interview called me a "fossil" because of that.

          You were probably lucky not to get that job. A company dysfunctional enough to blacklist candidates without Twitter accounts -- and insult said candidates to their faces while doing it -- is not likely a company that would be fun to work for.

          I have a Facebook account, which is getting used gradually less often due to Facebook's retreat from XMPP, though purple-facebook might bring the usage back up some. I've never had a Twitter account and still don't really understand the appeal.

          • It's likely that the company has a dysfunctional HR department, and the actual technical areas may be well-run and pleasant to work in. Besides, sometimes you need a job, and can't afford to be picky.

        • I think that if people had their real identity online, the internet would be a less hostile place because people would choose their words and their position more carefully. After all, if you write something you believe in, should you not be able to stand behind it? If you screw up, just back track your statement. After all, back tracking just means you learned something from the argument that you didn't know before. I've often back tracked my arguments on SlashDot. I've even sent apologies to users I beli

      • They're in a dominant position in their field. It's network effects: if I stop using Facebook I lose asynchronous access to some of my friends (who don't use email), I don't keep up with others, and generally wind up being cut off from a useful stream of information from friends and family. I lose a lot by switching to another social network.

        If a company becomes a monopoly, and network effects tend to do that, it needs to be regulated.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          We could argue that latter statement for quite some time but, suffice to say, don't let Facebook monopolize you. Yeah, you may lose something and you may gain something. I function just fine without it and I know many others who do the same.

          Sorry for the delayed reply. Was back on the road.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I live in Canada and up here the name you choose to go by can change on a daily basis with the only exception being when signing legal documents.

      I'm glad I don't have Facebook. Tried it for the first time 6 months ago and used it for about 3 months before I realized I don't want to be exposed to how stupid and ignorant some of the people I associate with can be. I'm much happier being in the dark about it.

    • Facebook's raison d'Ãtre is to provide a non-anonymous online forum. While plenty of people like me or whoever happens is reading this post, are happy to talk to "Anonymous Coward" or "donscarletti", there are many people who would rather not do that. Facebook is there for such people.

      Many people I know have no Facebook profile whatsoever. I have a Facebook profile, on which I just share pictures from when I travel and sometimes write short updates about where I live and where I work. I do not write an

      • by ShaunC ( 203807 )

        Many people I know have no Facebook profile whatsoever.

        Sure they do, they just haven't claimed it yet. Facebook compiles as much information as it can to build dossiers about people who haven't signed up, and that "shadow profile" can be linked to their account if they do make one. The Belgian government recently banned this practice [nytimes.com], but the rest of us are stuck with it for now.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I think my problem with it is the number of products and services that sort of need a facebook account- for instance, a lot of mobile games. In practice, you can make a fake account with a real sounding name, and you'll never be called on it- but that's a lame workaround.

      It is their website and they can do with it what they want- but it's still shitty that by being successful they have a ton of really annoying things hooked into them.

    • No one is being forced to use facebook, if they want to require users send them a blood sample, their left tooth, and 5 million dollars to keep their account, I don't see how they shouldn't be "allowed" to demand this.

      One could argue that given that the government has a monopoly on issuing certain kinds of documentation, there should be some legal limits on how that documentation can be used.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      I wonder if there can be a compromise given... As of now, FB has an icon for people who have proven that the account has been vetted. Why not have the current ID vetting give another icon (or perhaps none at all), and then have a tier under that where people can create IDs at will... but it will be obvious to all comers that the person's name and ID is fictitious.

      This would be basically how SSL certs are handled now. EV certs for the top tier, regular signed certs for most things, and the big warning if a

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      I'm surprised that there has not been a lawsuit over racism yet. Facebook requires you to enter two names (first and last), and for cultural reasons some people only have one. That discriminates against people from countries where one name is the norm.

      • I've also heard they discriminate against Asians. A FOAF (friend of a friend) told me that they kicked out someone named Fook Yew.

    • by spads ( 1095039 )

      Personally I strongly dislike this recent trend of pushing the use of your real identity, especially with recent actual occurrences of people being harassed in real life due to online activities. It's one of the many reasons I choose not to use facebook (the other being I find whatever voodoo they do to recommend friends disturbing, I signed up with fake info awhile back and it started recommending people I actually did know from both family and work.. which honestly creeped me the fuck out). I don't feel like my rights are being violated though.

      I have seen that. Presumably it is from your visiting their pages with that identity? That's all I can think, because I didn't have them in my contacts or anything.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @07:01PM (#51134007)

    If their product is the users, you are attacking the heart of their business model by providing an incorrect name.

    • by Etherwalk ( 681268 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @07:12PM (#51134051)

      If their product is the users, you are attacking the heart of their business model by providing an incorrect name.

      This. They are causing massive harm to individuals and society in several ways: careerwise (since social media is now checked by employers), by reducing social mobility (the same way), and in terms of chilling free speech. All so that they can sell your identity to advertisers, intelligence agencies, and data mining firms.

      • This. They are causing massive harm to individuals and society in several ways: careerwise (since social media is now checked by employers), by reducing social mobility (the same way), and in terms of chilling free speech. All so that they can sell your identity to advertisers, intelligence agencies, and data mining firms.

        Last time I checked, using Facebook is voluntary. I am under no obligation to click any ad, and if I don't like one, I can mark it as repetitive/offensive/etc. If any employee tries to view my profile, the only thing they'll see is that I have one, if they can even guess that it's mine, since I don't use my photo for my profile. Stop pretending that using a private site is a right instead of a privilege.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Nobody said it's a right. What was said is that it's harmful. It encourages self censorship and groupthink. Not using it cats suspicion in certain social and business settings. Not using it has an opportunity cost in terms of communicating with friends and family who are too technology ignorant to use something else.

          I can and do choose not to use it and nothing will ever persuade me otherwise. Using it or any other social network is more harmful than not doing so to me, but one cannot pretend there isn'

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        On the plus side, Facebook is very helpful for creating spare burner personas. If someone has a Facebook profile with a few stock photos and randomly liked posts most people and web sites seem to assume they are real. You can create a few of them so they have friends and to use later.

        When you are finished with a persona, don't forget it kill it off and set up a memorial page. It makes the others look even more real when they like posts about friends dying.

        • by jafiwam ( 310805 )

          On the plus side, Facebook is very helpful for creating spare burner personas. If someone has a Facebook profile with a few stock photos and randomly liked posts most people and web sites seem to assume they are real. You can create a few of them so they have friends and to use later.

          When you are finished with a persona, don't forget it kill it off and set up a memorial page. It makes the others look even more real when they like posts about friends dying.

          The stupid part is Facebook has a huge problem with fake accounts spamming comment areas of news and other types of web sites that they can't seem to stop. Yet they go after their bread and butter.

          They could easily solve this by saying "WE want to know who you are, but we don't care what your profile says." A good half of the people on my friends lists use fake or incomplete or names with nicknames in them. It's never been a problem. I either don't care who they are or already know who they are because I

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Facebook has been slowly on the way out of my life. Not much more to go!

    • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @07:41PM (#51134173)

      If their product is the users, you are attacking the heart of their business model by providing an incorrect name.

      Yet in the United States it is entirely legal to adopt any name at all, for any reason you want, under certain restrictions (most having to do with how you interact with the government and sometimes banks - frequently because of government). There is absolutely no requirement that I use my birth-name, although there are some inconveniences. As far as my friends know, my bullshit made-up Facebook name is actually how I wish to be referred to.

      Asking me to provide proof of my name is really asking me to produce documentation that corroborates my story: documentation I can easily (and legally) fabricate, or else may itself have been a fabrication that does not support my facebook identity. It seems like in our brave new digital age, the we should have our children change their identity every year to establish some history.

      It is a total waste of time to continue down this road, my name is whatever I say it is. Until it comes time to pay taxes, then it's whatever my parents said it was on the day I was born.

      • by Obfuscant ( 592200 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:26PM (#51134407)

        It is a total waste of time to continue down this road, my name is whatever I say it is. Until it comes time to pay taxes, then it's whatever my parents said it was on the day I was born.

        I don't know that the IRS cares either, as long as the TIN (taxpayer identification number) is correct and the numbers add up.

        Facebook has made, and will continue to make, money from selling my demographic information, and companies that want to sell me stuff don't care if my name is Fred Willard or Bjorn Florgen as long as I have money they can separate me from.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not really. FB have shadow accounts based on people that might not even exist, and probably you, if you don't even have a Facebook, as long as someone you know has talked about, or uploaded pictures of, you.
      Google does this as well.

      You can still track and identify anonymous users indirectly through others. Pretty damn well at that, especially these days.

      Combined with sentence analysis, you can even get a reasonably decent understanding of who that person is, and whether it is indeed the same person betwee

  • Finally! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    At long last, I can use my rightful name on my Facebook account.

    Sincerely,
    Seymore Butts

  • by Anonymous Coward
    When I first saw the title I read it as "Facebook Tweets ..." and I just about fell off my chair!!!
  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuietLagoon ( 813062 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @08:14PM (#51134361)
    Facebook would expect me to upload my birth certificate and/or passport to be used in their people catalog?
  • I guess I couldn't sign up for Facebook, because I'm a lesbian trapped in a man's body.
  • by l0n3s0m3phr34k ( 2613107 ) on Wednesday December 16, 2015 @09:43PM (#51134711)
    Their various spokespeople have been dancing around the truth behind this; but it's all about the advertising money. If your not using your real name, then they can't easily tie you back to whatever profiling system they use that pushes ads based on marketing databases. My theory is that many of the "complaints" that get accounts removed are coming from various companies who pay to advertise with Facebook; to them "fake accounts" are wasting their money. No corp gives a flying f*ck if your a victim of domestic abuse, a trans hiding from a beating, or even if your in the US's witness protection plan. To them, a fake name = wasted ads. The only reason Facebook is even addressing this is because of the social backlash.
    • This is a fun way to get modded up but I don't think there's much truth to this. Look at the type of AC trolling we get here but also even some pseudo-anonymous trolling. When people have to use their real name, they are on better behavior. The policy keeps getting tweaked to deal with corner cases but the principle is still that you aren't anonymous on FB so exercise the same restraing you would in "real life" since FB is the new real life.
      • I'm a troll IRL, you insensitive clod!

        • Then you can use your real name on FB and have fun trolling. People can choose to unfriend you. But then the trolling will be boring so you will try to sign up again with the name of your high school nemesis and the real name policy will thwart you. If I could post and moderate, I'd give you the funny mod though. You deserve it.
      • In a way your right, but not completely. People still say very hateful things on Facebook that they can't say at their job or they'd be fired; people post pictures of drugs that they wouldn't do out in public. For example, if someone at a large corp decided to forward an email saying "All Muslims are brutal killers and should be shot on site" to everyone in the corp address book, they'd most likely get fired...but they still post stuff like that in the "public setting" on Facebook. Sometimes it can backfi
        • I have no doubt that what you are saying is true - more information makes for better advertising. But I really don't think it's part of the rationale. Any online forum needs a way to deal with trolling. Almost every news site with a comment system ended up shutting it down. Here at /. we use a moderation system to keep things going. FB uses a real-names policy. Even if, as you point out, it doesn't stop everybody from behaving in ridiculous ways, it allows other users to identify them and not interact
  • everyone's getting excited about outing some LGBTQs, but i'm guessing there are many more couples sharing joint accounts with names like John Jane Doe. and then you have all the completely fake accounts that do nothing but spam. my guess is that if someone wants to use a fake name, the only way facebook is going to know about it and take some action is if some of their friends are jerks and turn them in.

  • There are a large number of people, even in the USA, who can honestly say that they have more than one real name. One of them is the name that they use in everyday life, the other is used for religious and/or cultural purposes. I'm one of them, and only one of my real names has a web presence. In the unlikely event that I were to get a Facebook account, guess which one I'd use.
  • Don't use Facebook.

  • Regardless of the tweaks, facebook is still asking for government ID to be sent to them, which will link the pseudonym to a real person in a way that only the police could be interested in. Outside of financial transactions, I have no other online services which require such a thing. On slashdot, web forums, CB radio, or G+, I can be any handle. For this reason, I continue to ban Facebook from my online activities.

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