First of all I’ll cover some old ground and take us back just under four years to November 21st 2011. Author Salman Rushdie had been embroiled in a row with Facebook because they wouldn’t allow him to use the name “Salman Rushdie”. This was due to the fact that Salman Rushdie’s first name is actually Ahmed and initially Facebook changed his account to use that first name.
Eventually, Facebook saw sense and Salman Rushdie was allowed to use the name Salman Rushdie. A name he’s widely known as. Fast forward almost four years and numerous articles about the pro’s and cons of Facebook’s real name policy, Facebook are still at it when it comes to being stubborn over names, despite claims that they are relaxing their real name policy.
Alex Hern, in the linked Guardian article writes :
The new rules still officially require the use of “authentic names” on the site, something which has previously resulted in criticism from varied groups including the drag community, Native Americans, and trans people. While Facebook does not require the use of “legal names” on the site, it does demand that users identify with the name that other people know them by.
That doesn’t sound like much of a watering down of their policy to me. However further in the article Alex Hern writes :
Firstly, the site will now allow users to “provide more information about their circumstances” in order to “give additional details or context on their unique situation”.
According to the company’s VP of Growth, Alex Schultz, this should allow Facebook to accurately assess whether the name supplied fits with the rules. Additionally, he says: “It will help us better understand the reasons why people can’t currently confirm their name, informing potential changes we make in the future.”
Initially, that sounded a bit more positive, although it still requires users to jump through hoops and be authorised to use a name they are already widely known as. To highlight why this is still very much a problem we need to turn to Hamlet Au over at New World Notes who has been covering the Facebook problems faced by R.U. Sirius, AKA Ken Goffman.