Saturday, 11 October 2014

Facebook real name policy

Hello again,

Well, there have been a rather huge backlash from people who were forced to use their real names on facebook. Apparently, as I've read somewhere, someone had taken upon themselves to report people that weren't using their real names. Mostly targeting drag queens and entertainers.

I've got two thoughts here. One, facebook did write in their terms and conditions about requiring people to use their real names, and that we have all signed it (possibly without reading). Now, I'm not defending facebook's policy here nor am I saying that people shouldn't be pissed if their account was taken away. I am just stating a fact that it has always been the case although not heavily enforced.

Which brings me to my next thought. If the policy wasn't heavily enforced, why is it enforced now? Was it because facebook suddenly decided that it was time to "clear out" it's databases? Perhaps, it was because they hadn't thought about the downsides of enforcing the usage of putting your real self out there, so to speak. Or perhaps it was some vigilante or malicious user/s that decided they should report users which aren't using real names.

I do not claim to know what is going on behind the scenes nor what went on during the meetings that facebook had with the drag community. Perhaps this is an issue that has already passed it's "current news" status but it was rather curious that around the same time, a few people I know are facing the same problems on facebook with regards to their real names.

I have stumbled upon a wizarding community on facebook and perhaps some of them are genuine wizards (like me, attempting to mingle with the muggles), most of them are muggles pretending to be wizards, often having the same persona over on pottermore (that website that I talked about which tries to imitate the wizarding community for muggles).

Also, in some ways, I can understand the point of view of facebook, in some ways, to make it a transparent space where people are more mindful of what they write because it's essentially taking away the anonymous factor that plagues many other similar sites or forums. However, I do think that facebook has become such an iconic thing to have of every individual, that people are looked upon as weird if one doesn't have one. With that, it is rather apparent for many who for their own reasons decide to create profiles that may not reflect their real lives just so that they can continue to connect with people they want to without giving away certain things that they do not wish to expose.

My opinion on this is quite simple really. Facebook should take away their real name policy because they have become an essential commodity among muggles and there are many muggles who might have been hiding from certain people or just for the simple reason of wanting to protect themselves online. I do not think that there is a site that can fully protect it's users (no matter how confident they are of doing so) which is rather arrogant (in some ways) to "demand" that their users use their real identity. Would they be held accountable if rape victims are then harassed, victims of abuse are being haunted (yet again) by their abusers, people looking to start a new life elsewhere but having their past lives catch up to them, etc.? Would facebook then cough up money, time and resources to protect these people? Making sure that these people are taken care of emotionally, physically and mentally?

My question is, what is facebook going to do about it? Continue with the real name policy and disregarding the possible danger and or inconvenience they might cause to the users which are affected or take away their real name policy?

Will this cause affected users to find other sites that might be more lenient towards online anonymity? Will this shift of users lead others to follow suit? Will this cause some other person to start their own site for a particular community (just like how facebook started) and then grow from there, perhaps becoming a future rival to facebook?

I think it would be quite intriguing if someone were to create a pottermore version of facebook. All the features (and perhaps more) of facebook, plus the online anonymity that is sometimes quite essential. Well, if someone does this, I want to say it right now, you better credit me for giving you the idea and I'll like a cut of your profits too. After all, I need some way to make muggle money right?

Anyway, that's my two cents (I used a muggle phrase!) on this and I'm hopping that facebook would come up with a satisfactory solution for these affected users soon.

As always, leave me a comment and let me know what you think, or just say hi!

Lord Severus

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