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Electronic Frontier Foundation Facebook Privacy Social Networks

EFF Joins Nameless Coalition and Demands Facebook Kills Its Real Names Policy 232

Mark Wilson writes: Facebook has seen heavy criticism for its real names (or 'authentic identities' as they are known to the social network) policy. Over the last year, all manner of rights groups and advocates have tried to convince Facebook to allow users to drop their real name in favor of a pseudonym if they want. Now the Electronic Frontier Foundation is part of the 74-member strong Nameless Coalition and has written to Facebook demanding a rethink on the ground of safety, privacy, and equality. This is far from being the first time Facebook has been called on to allow the use of 'fake names', and the latest letter is signed by LGBT groups, freedom advocates, privacy supporters, and feminist organizations.
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EFF Joins Nameless Coalition and Demands Facebook Kills Its Real Names Policy

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  • by Roodvlees ( 2742853 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:10AM (#50668167)
    The best argument for Facebook will be if there's a way to make money off fake names.
    • they may be making more money off real names. If you were facebook, you'd be insane not to have intelligence contracts.

      • If they aren't already. Not to go all tinfoil hat, but in many ways, I've always felt that Facebook operates very much like an intelligence agency. They do everything they can to vacuum up every single bit of personal information about you they can, including who you talk to, what you do, what you like, etc... The biggest difference is in who they provide the information to, and why.
        • If they aren't already. Not to go all tinfoil hat, but in many ways, I've always felt that Facebook operates very much like an intelligence agency.

          Agreed, and if they haven't been thoroughly penetrated and tapped by all the three-letter agencies out there, I'd be flabbergasted.

          Seriously, Facebook is a massive treasure trove of leads and relationship connections as well as mundane "who, what, where, when" stuff.

          If it didn't already exist, the NSA/FBI/CIA/ETC would have to invent it.

        • If they aren't already. Not to go all tinfoil hat, but in many ways, I've always felt that Facebook operates very much like an intelligence agency. They do everything they can to vacuum up every single bit of personal information about you they can, including who you talk to, what you do, what you like, etc... The biggest difference is in who they provide the information to, and why.

          I'm sure the traditional Intelligence services can buy data from Facebook just like any other client. Sure it *may* be anonymized, but those agencies can probably merge it quite easily with data they have from other sources.

      • And what's more valuable to an intelligence agency... someone with a neurotically-groomed token profile based on their "real" name, or someone with an extensive profile under a technically-fake name (a name that's practically a de-facto GUID because they use it in other parts of their daily lives)?

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        If you were facebook, you'd be insane not to have intelligence contracts.

        And somehow, TLAs and other intelligence agencies require real names in order to identify people?

        To be honest, whether or not anyone requires a real name policy is probably irrelevant to such agencies - they already either know the person's real name, or they don't. If they don't know, it's not like the real name policy will offer any help. And if they do know, whether the account is used as a pseudonym or not, makes zilch difference.

        T

    • by Calydor ( 739835 )

      Emphasize its position is a casual gaming network. I'm thinking Candy Crush, Farmville etc. - stupid as the games may be they are popular, and I have to admit having Candy Crush on the tablet when sitting in a waiting room at the doctor's helps pass the time.

      • ... I have to admit having Candy Crush on the tablet when sitting in a waiting room at the doctor's helps pass the time.

        So would reading. Bring a book.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:13AM (#50668181)

    If Facebook wants to require real names, fine by me, I don't have to use the service...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Just so. The solution you propose has been the one I've used since Facebook's start. Works fine, really it does.

      What's that you say? How will friends and family keep up with my doings? Well, here's my little trick - if I want them to know about something, I email/phone them and tell them about it. Works really well, and I get to talk to them at the same time....

    • Good on you. People seem to forget that we're just talking about an easily-replaceable website. And that's the thing that irks me about this so-called controversy...

      Facebook has always required real names. It was their policy from day one when it was still just "The Facebook" and only open to Harvard students. Whether it's based on advertising dollars or Zuckerberg's whim or something else; that's the kind of community they wanted to create, just like Slashdot's creators wanted pseudonyms plus the optio

    • Or just ignore the bits of the terms of service you don't agree with. Seriously it's not like they require photo ID to sign up. Google didn't either. Neither of them have my full real name. Even my phone doesn't have my full real name.

    • If Facebook wants to require real names, fine by me, I don't have to use the service...

      There are companies that won't hire people who don't have facebook profiles (presumably in their own names).

      Not saying it's a good thing, and it never caused me personally a problem, but I've got a very long CV to rely on and young people just starting out won't have that.

      • There are companies that won't hire people who don't have facebook profiles

        WOW, seriously???

        Can you name some of these companies? That would be a real eye opener....!!

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:20AM (#50668213)

    There is no magic bullet but didn't the real name policy with G+ and then linking to YouTube actually curb trolling on YouTube? As for real names on Facebook, if you joined Facebook then you have already surrendered your privacy.

    • by Brulath ( 2765381 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @02:29AM (#50668251)

      Perhaps, but imagine for a moment that you're an LGBT (or otherwise marginalised) teen living in a fairly hostile community. You'd want to reach out and communicate with people who could empathise, but wouldn't want to reveal your identity lest it lead to retribution. Not requiring a real name would allow them to reach out in a safer manner on that particular platform.

      That isn't just restricted to LGBT people, either. Anyone with a condition or history who wanted to communicate about it without linking it to them in a way family/friends/employers might find out about could benefit from a lack of real name requirements. Bullies would benefit too, however, so it's a double edged sword.

      • by Intrepid imaginaut ( 1970940 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:20AM (#50668437)

        Real names are far more useful to bullies than otherwise as they allow bullies to track people over multiple platforms, find their phone numbers, place of work, even track them right to their front doors. A real names policy does little to stop trolls either, they just register a burner account and troll until they get kicked off, it's not hard to do.

        I'm solidly in favour of this EFF petition and I hope everyone signs, like it or not facebook is the de facto means of mass communication on the internet for most people today. They already have way too much power and have proven themselves more than happy to abuse that power [nytimes.com] in ways that would have gotten an accountable entity shut down hard, any moves to curb their influence and reach must be supported.

      • by N1AK ( 864906 )

        Perhaps, but imagine for a moment that you're an LGBT (or otherwise marginalised) teen living in a fairly hostile community. You'd want to reach out and communicate with people who could empathise, but wouldn't want to reveal your identity lest it lead to retribution. Not requiring a real name would allow them to reach out in a safer manner on that particular platform.

        Until they screw up and contaminate their 'real' account with their 'secret' account... Facebook has a real names policy and plenty of people

        • Perhaps, but imagine for a moment that you're an LGBT (or otherwise marginalised) teen living in a fairly hostile community. You'd want to reach out and communicate with people who could empathise, but wouldn't want to reveal your identity lest it lead to retribution. Not requiring a real name would allow them to reach out in a safer manner on that particular platform.

          Until they screw up and contaminate their 'real' account with their 'secret' account... Facebook has a real names policy and plenty of people seem pretty happy with that, if someone wants to use a pseudonym then use a service that allows them.

          More importantly, you can pretty much rely on the current crop to not only do this, but not get why older members of the group are less than amused with them doing the exact same thing if trusted with that kind of info.

          Requiring a public display of your real name really does nothing to help--and, if it did, Facebook should at this point be able to prove that--and the only reason to demand it privately might be the actually reasonable one of wanting to be able to ensure that you can have an at least somewhat

      • I'm not a LGBT but I am a MLPF. Fluttershy! Yay!
      • Facebook is a poor choice for communicating around a common interest, or for getting support from a group. There are no facebook communities that compare to the better web forums, and it has nothing to do with anonymity. The interface itself is just not conducive to group discussions. Everything is short-term, hit-or-miss reach, and even large groups have small participation. Facebook isn't useful for carrying on a meaningful dialog.

      • Not requiring a real name would allow them to reach out in a safer manner on that particular platform.

        But hiding behind a pseudonym allows people to troll in a safer manner too you gay moron. *

        *No you're not really a gay moron, but suppose I meant what I said? There's plenty of cases of suicide induced at the hands of trolling, and the offenders simply can't be held accountable. While I in no way condone the idea that Facebook or any such service should require a real name (and I don't use one myself) you should realise that the sword can cut both was.

    • by kuzb ( 724081 )

      Not really, since you can still use a pseudonym. The comments on youtube will still forcefully cause you to lose several IQ points if you're accidentally exposed.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Facebook is a private service. Stop using and treating it like a public square.

  • ...if you don't like their policies, don't use their service. It doesn't matter how many of these groups gather around a campfire to shake an angry fist - Facebook is not obligated to bend to them. Right now Zuckerberg is probably sitting atop one of his scrooge-mcduckian vaults laughing at the very idea that anything that is making him even richer than he is now is something that needs changing.

    • The main problem here is that employers have an annoying tendency to assume that one has a FB account and there's a reason we've had articles about the hijinks that result from that over here. Honestly, I think we're better off pushing instead for employers to not be able to demand such--and possibly making it so any place which requires publicly-displayed real names is legally liable for the consequences of such.

      FB will probably end that policy very quickly once that's settled, possibly with an entertaini

  • by GeekWithAKnife ( 2717871 ) on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:30AM (#50668469)

    Why are these groups constantly pandering to Facebook to change its rulership of willing victims?

    Facebook is replaceable, Facebook is unnecessary and Facebook is not really social it is commercial.

    This "social network" only helps large groups alienate people on a wider and constant scale. School bullying is only enhanced, stalking empowered and invasive misuse of information that can affect you long term by your employer, the government etc.

    Using you real name is not protecting you. Making someone else use his real name does not protect you from them by being "accountable" that's hogwash.

    Instead of trying to fix and make MySpace better what did we do? we moved one! -now many more people are realizing what Facebook is and now it's time to move on.


    So many people have hundreds of Facebook friends and they do not even know who their neighbour is. Social my ass.
    • move on - good idea - I'm ready to move.

      The question remains: where to? What is a serious alternative to Facebook? Anything else that (most of) my friends may be using as well?


      • I think a good starting place is to find what it is that you use Facebook for that is so irreplaceable...then find an alternative.

        Use folder sharing on google drive...heck make your own cloud drive and share it on a password basis. Setup your own RSS feed or better yet learn to code an alternative that is satisfactory to you. Share your code, someone might add a feature, improve it or rewrite it and before you know if you might have something decent.

        In-fact why hope? this has most likely already happene
        • I have no idea what you're trying to say as Facebook is not a file sharing service, it's not an RSS feed service, and certainly not a Google search replacement. What I use Facebook mainly for is to reach out to and keep in touch with other people. For those purposes I see no viable alternative, as those people are on Facebook, and not on - well - basically any fancy social network you can write the software for. Even Google terribly failed with their attempt to create a serious competitor.

          I do hope at least

          • What I use Facebook mainly for is to reach out to and keep in touch with other people.

            I use email for this and have for over 30 years.

            • by Dins ( 2538550 )
              Me too. I hate Facebook and won't use it. But for many people, they're stuck because the people they want to communicate with won't use e-mail or other systems.
            • E-mail is great for people you know already - to send them a message now and then. Facebook is better for general updates; and their groups really can't be replaced by e-mail.


          • You see no viable alternative to keeping in-touch with people than Facebook?

            I think the scope of the problem was not entirely clear to me until now...
            • Particularly the reaching-out-to-tens-of-thousands-at-the-same-time part doesn't work that well with with e-mail.


              • You keep in-touch with tens of thousands of people?

                Perhaps you are suggesting people need a soap box to feel like they matter more than they do...
    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      Tell this to all my friends (real friends, not Facebook friends).
      Where there is a party or something they tend to plan everything via Facebook. And because I rarely log on, I am often a bit left out. They don't forget about me and usually contact me in other ways (real friends, I said) but I often miss out on part of the planning. Same thing for things like pictures and less important discussions.
      The worst part is that most of them know what Facebook is all about, the privacy implications and all that. One


      • I'm not trying to convince anyone to stop using it. It's a fashion...like a fashion it will pass. It's a foregone conclusion...but what I am saying is that it's no use to moan about Facebook's policies or what have you. Use it (and thus consent) or not.

        Like you indicated and experienced; real friends will not forgot you if you're not on Facebook. The rest are not a concern of mine.
    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Why are these groups constantly pandering to Facebook to change its rulership of willing victims?

      Because if they knew how to replace Facebook with something better they would have done it, and got fabulously wealthy.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 06, 2015 @03:50AM (#50668529)

    Real Names are necessary to help support Facebook's customers.

    Facebook has an obligation to their customers to supply them with clean data. They pay Facebook money to help them target the exact people that they are looking for.
    https://www.facebook.com/busin... [facebook.com]

    You are not their customer. You are Facebook's Product. You are giving Facebook huge volumes of data, personal data, etc. about you in exchange for Facebook allowing you to communicate with friends and family easily.

  • and huffingtonpost discriminates by requiring facebook to post comments.
  • Nameless Coalition is not the best choice, from a marketing perspective, for a group - especially in a Capitalized Headline.

    "Look, they still have to decide on their name. How lame is that to not be able to come up with a name for your lobby group?"
    "No, they have already come up with a name. Their name is 'Nameless'."
    :
    WARNING: the system has encountered a paradox and has run out of stack space

    On the topics of names: what's wrong with "John Smith" for a real (* = for certain values of real) identity?

  • People act differently when they are not accountable for what they say. You know that from reading every online forum ever. My facebook feed to positively civil compared to every anonymous forum.

    Ideally you'd be able to use your real-world name, whether it's your legal name or not, but how can facebook tell the difference between a name you made up for facebook and one you use professionally or personally? Just how hard do you expect them to work to accommodate every keyboard warrior?

    If you pick a realistic

    • by bmo ( 77928 )

      What a load of corporatist bullshit.

      >alias users are misfits or troublemakers

      No. Fucking NO.

      You have the right to call yourself whatever you want in real life so long as you are not trying to defraud anyone while doing this. That this right supposedly suddenly doesn't exist because a corporation demands it is insane.

      This does not make you a misfit. It does not make you a troublemaker.

      Aliases have a history going back decades online and thousands of years offline. This sudden "hurr, you must use your

      • What a load of entitled, selfish bullshit.

        Facebook doesn't exist to serve you. Get over yourself.

        • What a load of entitled, selfish bullshit.

          Facebook doesn't exist to serve you. Get over yourself.

          Oops, hit the wrong button. Meant to add this...

          Facebook isn't the government and isn't the law. And they aren't obligated to provide you with anything. Until the government starts requiring Facebook accounts, you have no rights to anything they provide.

        • But it does serve to serve me ads.
    • People act differently when they are not accountable for what they say. You know that from reading every online forum ever. My facebook feed to positively civil compared to every anonymous forum.

      The problem is that we've no proof that FB's real name policy does do that--and serious concerns that the closest to 'accountable' it gets is that the internet lynch mob will know where to find you. The latter should be sufficient reason for requiring strong evidence to support the thesis that a publicly-displaced real-name policy is worth it, especially since crusaders have an annoying tendency to assume that all means are just in the pursuit of justice.

    • by cpghost ( 719344 )
      Just because they post with real names (do they really?) doesn't prevent people from using hate speech on Facebook [dw.com]. The times when people used to act with more civility on the Net because they used their real names are long gone.
      • by KGIII ( 973947 )

        I've been on the 'net since the days where we dialed in to individual BBS hosted either by businesses or the guy down the street. I even ran one for a while. There has never been a time of civility on the 'net except maybe while it was the larger net provisioned by ARPA and was in the academic sphere. Even there, it was still subject to some rather offensive content and not a place for people with thin skins.

  • I am sure not the only one, never used my real name or information, not so I can troll. Friends on fb no who I am.
  • Let FB alone, and promote decentralized alternatives under user control, like diaspora* [diasporafoundation.org].

  • Look, here's the thing: Make up a plausible sounding name, create a gmail account with that name and link it to it.

    Just how much do you think Facebook can actually check this shit? Does anybody believe there aren't already fake names?

    Yes, it's a stupid policy ... so ignore it.

    • I'm sure they will put just as much effort into checking this as they do into checking that everybody creating an account is actually 13 or over so they don't have to follow COPPA laws.., in others words, no effort at all. Look, Facebook's business model is built around collecting data; data about you is their product. And that data is much more valuable if it can be connected to an actual person. This has nothing to do with security, it has everything to do with profits. Also, Facebook's user count is gros
  • I would be perfectly happy to have never created a Facebook account. Unfortunately, there are now several websites that require a Facebook login to use, including Tinder (yes, I am that shallow). How about if we stop making Facebook the de facto user identification mechanism for the web, and require ALL sites to provide a user identification mechanism that allows anonymity? I'd also point out that Facebook doesn't follow it's own rules, it encourages those under 13 to lie about their age, then goes ahead an
  • So, use a real name... just don't use YOUR OWN real name! Let some other poor sucker take flack for the manure you post on Facebook! Personally, I think we could use a subset of the internet which requires positive identification, but Facebook isn't it.
  • It's "facebook" people. Facebook. It's not like you need it or life requires it. It's not like you have to put everything in your life into it. You can of course put your whole life out there for anyone who wishes to see it (That's what I do mostly) or if you like you can post 4 pictures of cats and then only share them with a handful of friends and then never go back there again. People who use it aren't "willing victims" and people who won't use it because they don't want to use their real names aren't be

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