Facebook Finally Addresses Defective “Real Name” Policy

The company says it realizes "that our policy and tools aren’t enabling people to be their authentic selves."

Facebook has announced its revising its “real name” policy, which has caused issues for people using a name other than the one assigned at birth.

“We are deeply invested in making [this policy] better,’ said Alex Schultz, Facebook’s VP for growth. “I’ve seen first hand how people – including LGBT people – can be bullied online by people using fake or impersonating accounts.”

At the same time, Schultz admits he’s gotten feedback from LGBT people and other communities “that our policy and tools aren’t enabling people to be their authentic selves.”


To address the situation, the social media giant announced two main changes on Friday:

First, if they’re reported, users will be able to offer details on why they’ve chosen a certain name for their account.

Second, to prevent abuse of the system, people who flag a name as fake will also have to provide additional details.

And users should be able to get back into a locked account more easily.

‘We also understand the challenges for many transgender people when it comes to formally changing one’s name,” said Schultz. “That’s why we’re making changes now and in the future, and will continue to engage with you and all who are committed to looking after the most vulnerable people using our product.”

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But he underscored that the rationale for the policy is still sound.

“When people use the name others know them by, they are more accountable for what they say, making it more difficult to hide behind an anonymous name to harass, bully, spam or scam someone else.”

Schultz said the goal was to reach a “balance” between making people feel safe and comfortable using Facebook and minimizing harassment.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.