Facebook has responded to a letter signed by a the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Human Rights Watch, and ACLU of California, requesting that it change its controversial “real name policy,” which requires that people use their legal name on Facebook. The groups argue that the policy is culturally biased against people who are transgender, have safety concerns about using their real names, or have legal names that don’t meet Facebook’s standard of “real names.”
While the company still won’t commit to allowing pseudonyms, it has decided to introduce process improvements for those who are unfairly removed from the service for using a name by which people know them.
When it removes people from the service for not using their real name, Facebook requires confirmation of their names in order to reinstate the account. Now, the social network will provide the option of adding context and details to their cases. “This should help our Community Operations team better understand the situation,” Alex Schultz, Facebook’s VP of growth, wrote in a letter released today. “It will also help us better understand the reasons why people can’t currently confirm their name, informing potential changes we make in the future.”
Facebook will also require users who flag profiles that allegedly don’t use “real” names to explain why they are reporting the profiles in question. This is intended to prevent people from misusing the reporting feature as a way to silence or harass people.
Last summer, Google, which previously had a policy similar to Facebook’s, opted to allow users to create Google+ profiles under another name.