It’s not likely that you’ll receive a message from Facebook asking you to rat on one of your friends, as the company has confirmed that a recent test involving users’ real names has been completed.
Last week, Facebook began sending survey questions to a small percentage of users. The prompt read “Help us make Facebook better” and asked users “is this your friend’s real name?” Below, an image of the friend in question appeared next to a few choices including “yes,” “no,” and “I don’t want to answer.”
Facebook confirmed that they were just testing this survey and that they weren’t trying to “get anyone in trouble,” but it definitely came off as Facebook asking users to snitch on their friends.
No matter, as it’s now over. According to Facebook:
This was a limited survey we have already concluded. We are always looking to gauge how people use Facebook and represent themselves to better design our product and systems. We analysed these surveys only using aggregate data and responses had zero impact on any user’s account.
We are still analyzing the results. And no, we do not have any plans at the moment to roll out the test more broadly, but are always looking at ways to keep our users and their data safe.
Cool. But why was Facebook asking about people’s real names anyway?
You might not even realize it, but using a fake name, nickname, or alias is forbidden by Facebook guidelines. Although tons of people use Facebook and don’t provide the exact name on their birth certificates, Facebook says that they are a “community where people use their real identities.”
“We require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you’re connecting with,” says the company.
“When everyone uses their real first and last names, people can know who they’re connecting with. This helps keep our community safe. We take the safety of our community very seriously. That’s why we remove fake accounts from the site as we find them.”
We’ve seen examples in recent weeks of mass crackdowns on accounts with false names. Though this most recent survey question shouldn’t shock any Facebook user, it was kind of an odd one. Nobody likes to feel like a narc.