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Facebook finally reforms ‘real name’ policy after drag queen bans

Nick Duffy December 15, 2015
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Facebook has introduced changes to its ‘real name’ policy – after complaints it was being used to ban trans people and drag queens.

The social network giant pledged to make changes last year after it faced protests over the policy, that requires people to use their real-life identity on the site.

The site’s ‘fake name’ reporting option has been used in the past to target trans people and drag queen – many of whom been banned as they have no ‘proof’ of their true identity.

Today, Facebook announced that it would make changes to prevent the abuse.

On Facebook, we require people to use the name their friends and family know them by.

Justin Osofsky, Vice President of Global Operations said: “When people use the names they are known by, their actions and words carry more weight because they are more accountable for what they say.

“It also makes it harder for bullies to anonymously smear the reputations of others, or anyone else to use an anonymous name to harass, scam or engage in criminal behavior.

“We’re firmly committed to this policy, and it is not changing.

“However, after hearing feedback from our community, we recognize that it’s also important that this policy works for everyone, especially for communities who are marginalized or face discrimination.

“That’s why we’re continuing to make improvements in this area.”

In a post on the platform, Mr Osofsky added: “Today, we will begin to test new tools that address two key goals.

“First, we want to reduce the number of people who are asked to verify their name on Facebook when they are already using the name people know them by.

“Second, we want to make it easier for people to confirm their name if necessary. These tools have been built based on many conversations with community leaders and safety organizations around the world.”

The new tool gives people the ability to declare a circumstance that may give rise to an usual name – such as being lesbian, gay bisexual, transgender or queer; an ethnic minority; or affected by abuse, stalking or bullying.

He said: “We’re testing a new tool that will let people provide more information about their circumstances if they are asked to verify their name.

“People can let us know they have a special circumstance, and then give us more information about their unique situation.

“This additional information will help our review teams better understand the situation so they can provide more personalized support.

“This information will also help inform potential improvements we can make in the future.”

The process to report ‘fake names’ will also grow more complex, with Mr Osofsky explaining: “We are introducing a new version of the names reporting process that requires people to provide additional information about why they are reporting a name.

“In the past, people were able to simply report a ‘fake name’ but now they will be required to go through several new steps that provide us more specifics about the report.

“This additional context will help our review teams better understand why someone is reporting a name, giving them more information about a specific situation.”

“These improvements are only the beginning.

“Early in the new year, we will be looking at other ways we can reduce the number of people who have to go through an ID verification experience, while preserving the safety of other people on the site.

“We will also continue to work on making the experience itself more compassionate and easier to navigate.

“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.”

More: Conchita Wurst, Facebook, tech, technology, Trans, Transgender, US

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