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Free Expression

Facebook changes ‘real name’ reporting, but some critics remain skeptical

Mercury News:

A Facebook rule that requires people on the social network to use their real names reignited protests this year from drag queens, civil rights activists and others concerned about cyberbullying and harassment.

Responding to that criticism, Facebook said Tuesday it is testing a new tool — first in the United States — that requires people who flag profiles with fake names to provide more context in the report, such as why they are making the complaint. Facebook is also working on a way that allows users to provide more information about their circumstances if they are asked to verify their identity with a government ID, mail, paycheck stub or other materials.

Still, some civil rights groups remain skeptical Facebook’s changes will work.

“It’s not clear to me why online civility trumps individual safety in charged political environments,” said Gautam Hans, policy counsel for Center for Democracy & Technology. “I’m not persuaded that anonymous speech makes for a worse platform.”

Hans noted that other social media websites such as Twitter and Google Plus don’t ask their users to provide their real name like Facebook, which has 1.5 billion users. LinkedIn, a business-oriented social media site for job seekers and employers, does require that people use their real names.

Full article here.