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Facebook Finally Amend Their Real Name Policy

It's been a long, hard road, but Facebook seem to have finally accepted that their 'real name' policy was every bit as counter-intuitive as basically everyone claimed it to be. For months, if not years, more and more stories of people either opposing the policy, or legitimately falling victim to it have surfaced. One woman even legally changed her name to something utterly ridiculous in order to regain access to her account (it didn't work). Now, mercifully, the madness seems to have ended.

On Tuesday, they announced the introduction of a new tool which would allow people to file special requests which would enable them to use a fake name on their account. They've been pledging it for a while, but now it's actually coming into effect. Example reasons given include the risk of domestic abuse, or threats based on the user's gender or sexuality.

Those, along with 'ethnic minority', are the three reasons you can currently give when going through the process, or you can select other and verify. What isn't clear is which circumstances will make it through 'other' and which ones won't. A friend of mine, for example, is a teacher, and he used a fake name up until recently because he didn't want his students to track him down. Would that be admissible, using this new system?

The other addition means that when you have been required to verify your name, because of a report or whatever else, you will retain access to your account for 7 days and be able to choose from a far wider range of documents to submit. If you were reported, the system used for such reporting has also been expanded, offering a wider range of reasons to suggest why someone might be using a fake name in a malicious or otherwise unacceptable manner.

This is very obviously a response to external pressure, which shouldn't be out of the ordinary for Facebook, really. They're the largest social network on the planet, listening to what people want should be fundamental part of their fabric, yet it's taken an avalanche of complaints to persuade them to even meet people halfway. They have committed to making further changes to help avoid the verification process in the future, but have yet to offer any more specificity than that.

The changes are currently rolling out on a staggered basis in the US, and feedback will determine the rate of spread out to the rest of the world, assuming it doesn't get rejected outright. The 'Nameless Coalition', a group of civil rights and equality activists who most actively pressured Facebook into making these changes, as well as the #MyNameIs campaign, had a big role to play in this, even if the amendments don't meet all of their demands. It's certainly a start, though.

Callum is a film school graduate who is now making a name for himself as a journalist and content writer. His vices include flat whites and 90s hip-hop. Follow him @CallumAtSMF

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Facebook Finally Amend Their Real Name Policy Reviewed by Unknown on Friday, December 18, 2015 Rating: 5

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