When I was in high school, it was typical for the seniors to change their names on Facebook to some sort of (awful) name-adjacent pun. What most of these seniors didn't know was that altering your legal name on Facebook is actually against the website's "authentic name" policy - but it might not be for long. According to The Daily Dot, human rights groups want Facebook to alter its real name policy, and their reasons make plenty of sense.
According to The Daily Dot, over 70 human rights groups have signed an open letter to Facebook about the policy, which they believe does more harm than good. Though you can sign up for a Facebook with any name you wish, should someone report you to Facebook for using fake name, you may be asked to provide proper identification for said name. While the policy is in effect so that Facebook can protect users from spammers or identity thieves, it also ignores people who are using their non-legal name for the purposes of safety:
"In some cases Facebook has reinstated accounts with the legal name of users who have submitted government-issued ID in accordance with Facebook's policies, exposing them to abusive former partners, politically-motivated attacks, and threats of offline violence," the letter states.
This policy could also be a problem for transgender people who assign themselves new names that fit better than the one they were assigned at birth. It may also provide challenges for people who simply do not use their legal name in everyday life and prefer to go by a nickname instead. (The only nickname that Facebook allows under its policy is a variation of your real name, like "Ali" instead of "Alison.")
So far organizations that have signed the letter include the American Civil Liberties Union, Freedom of the Press Foundation, and Human Rights Watch. While a change in a long-standing Facebook rule may seem like a frivolous thing to fight for, the letter points out that the authentic name policy has implications for certain users that many of us simply never see.
Facebook should take initiative and edit this policy so that it can better protect all users - not just the ones who are comfortable using their legal name.
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