After prolonged backlash to its "real name" policy, Facebook is finally taking steps to change the policy that has disproportionately affected the queer community, Native Americans, performers and others whose authentic name may not match their legal documentation.
According to a letter published by Facebook's vice president of growth, Alex Schultz:
"We now plan to test a new process that will let people provide more information about their circumstances. This should help our Community Operations team better understand the situation. 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."
According to The Advocate, Facebook will now allow users to provide more information about why they have chosen a certain name if it differs from their legal name. Additionally, "a new requirement will be part of the confirmation process, directed at the people who flag a name as fake... Those reporting an allegedly fake name will be required to provide detailed information, in an effort to prevent trolling, a frequent complaint among trans users."
At the end of summer 2014 and in the months since, a number of people received the following message when trying to access their Facebook accounts.
This policy enforcement affected anyone who might have a reason to self-identify on the Internet using a name different from the one on their legal ID. As a result, the policy drew outrage and became a rallying point for many in the queer community before igniting what seemed like the beginning of a major exodus to social media platform Ello, which offers less restrictive guidelines for users.
It also led to protests outside of the Facebook headquarters, and numerous articles written about the real-life impact of their policy on the lives of users. Facebook eventually apologized to the LGBT community, but little was done to actually change the "real name" policy.
Kudos to Facebook -- that is, if this policy change does in fact allow all individuals to use their authentic names on their Facebook accounts.
Correction: This story has been edited to clarify language regarding the Facebook authentic name policy and includes a newly edited quote from The Advocate, which previously featured inaccurate information.
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