Facebook has announced that it will make several improvements to its policy that requires members to use their real or ‘authentic’ names on profiles. The social network giant said it will start testing the alterations in December.
Facebook’s ‘real names’ policy has come under fire from members of the LGBTQ community and civil liberties groups who say certain individuals are unfairly targeted by the restrictions and often have their accounts suspended. Facebook’s vice president of growth, Alex Schultz, published a letter obtained by BuzzFeed where he acknowledged the current policy doesn’t work for everyone. Schultz said that the company would add new tools that improve how users confirm their name on Facebook when signing up, and make it more difficult for trolls to target individuals.
The changes will mean that users who are asked to confirm their name will be able to add additional details to provide context. “This should help our Community Operations team better understand the situation,” said Schultz. “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.”
Furthermore, any Facebook member who wants to report profiles for using non-authentic names will now be required to provide the company with more information about why they are reporting someone. Advocates say that this way of flagging profiles has been abused in the past, and it’s hoped that the change will lessen the likelihood of it being used as a weapon to lock people out of their accounts.
Despite the changes, Facebook has no intentions of dropping the policy and still believes it is the best method for keeping the platform a safe place. “When people use the name others know them by, they are more accountable for what they say, making it more difficult to hide behind an anonymous name to harass, bully, spam or scam someone else,” Schultz said.
Facebook will also be looking at ways to provide more personalized support and appeal options to those users whose accounts have been suspended.