Facebook’s “real name policy”, as it’s been called, is frustrating to a lot of people. Facebook has long required its users to use their real names on the site, and this has been controversial for many years – but a few recent incidents have served to shine a brighter light on things.
Now we’ve reached the point where people are legally changing their names in order to be able to use Facebook.
A 30-year-old holistic therapist, originally Jemma Rogers, has changed her name to Jemmaroid Von Laalaa in an effort to regain control over her Facebook account.
Rogers Von Laalaa, she’d been using the pseudonym for some time – as a way to avoid unwanted attention on the site – before Facebook suspended her account. Now, she says, the process of getting back in has proved tedious and futile.
“The name you use should be your authentic identity; as your friends call you in real life and as our acceptable identification forms would show,” says Facebook of its real name policy. The company will often force users to provide proof in order to regain control of suspended accounts.
Apparently, Von Laalaa took drastic measures. And so far, even those haven’t worked.
“I know I’ve been a completely moron, but Facebook are being ridiculous. I’ve been locked out of my account for five weeks now and have lost all of my photos, messages and precious memories,” Von Laalaa told the Telegraph. “I can’t believe I’m stuck with this stupid name and I still can’t get into my Facebook.”
— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) July 13, 2015
“Facebook is a community where people use their authentic identities. We require people to provide the name they use in real life; that way, you always know who you’re connecting with. This helps keep our community safe,” says Facebook.
The Transgender community is one that feels Facebook’s real name policy is discriminatory and ultimately unsafe, and have been very vocal about it. People who are victims of online abuse have also denounced Facebook’s policy, saying pseudonyms let them hide from trolls. Domestic violence victims say the same thing. Facebook has even faced lawsuits from Native American activists over the policy.
Mark Zuckerberg recently addressed the backlash, saying the policy actually helps to keep people safe.
“It helps keep people safe. We know that people are much less likely to try to act abusively towards other members of our community when they’re using their real names. There are plenty of cases — for example, a woman leaving an abusive relationship and trying to avoid her violent ex-husband — where preventing the ex-husband from creating profiles with fake names and harassing her is important. As long as he’s using his real name, she can easily block him,” he said.
“Second, real names help make the service easier to use. People use Facebook to look up friends and people they meet all the time. This is easy because you can just type their name into search and find them. This becomes much harder if people don’t use their real names.”
The service is much harder to use when you’re locked out, however.