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“Authentic” selves: How Facebook’s push for real names causes users wishing to explore their identity to invest in alternative platforms

On the early web, anonymity and pseudonymity were both accepted and expected (Christopherson, 2007). Today, our social web is a very different place, where users expect “authenticity” from one another (Lim et al., 2015), and major social networking services are policed by strict “real name” policies (Chen, 2018). Facebook, a social networking service with 2.5 billion monthly active users (Hutchinson, 2020), was an early implementer of real name policy, and continues to use it to police users today (Facebook, 2020). In this conference paper, I aim to delve into the effects of Facebook’s real name policy on users who are wishing to use the platform to explore their identity, and provide evidence to suggest that the real name policy pushes such users to invest in alternative platforms.

Scholars have put forward numerous rationales behind Facebook’s decision to pursue a real name policy, some of which can be confirmed by the company’s own public statements, and others only interpretable as educated guesses. Facebook’s Help Centre explains that “always knowing who you’re connecting with helps keep you and the rest of our community safe from impersonation, scams and phishing” (2020). This statement aligns with the idea that anonymity online allows and encourages users to involve themselves in criminal acts, as these acts are then protected by the anonymity (Ruesch & Märker, 2012). Additional to the idea that legal problems could arise with no way to serve justice to anonymous criminals, Facebook could also be implementing a real name policy in response to the idea that anonymity has a “negative effect… on the quality of discourse” (Ruesch & Märker, 2012, p.302). With early studies into anonymous computer-mediated communication proposing a link between anonymity and abusive user behaviour (Keipi et al., 2017), it is feasible to suggest that Facebook is trying to supress the occurrence of this behaviour on their platform with the implementation of a real name policy. Whilst the aforementioned motivations seem to centre around protecting the user, it has also been suggested that Facebook’s real name policy is economically motivated, with Facebook’s main source of profit originating from “the commodification of users and their data” (Fuchs, 2012, p.1).  A real name policy “may add value if Facebook aggregates their own data with real name containing datasets that they purchased from data brokers” (Chen, 2018, p.163). Aside from user safety, legal arguments and economic motives, it also seems that the personal opinions of Facebook’s creators have influenced the implementation of a real name policy, with Mark Zuckerberg claiming that “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity” (Kirkpatrick, 2010, p.447).

Facebook’s real name policy is managed by multiple measures and whilst the policy has been in place for around a decade, it seems that Facebook has only begun to actually police offenders in the past few years (Haimson & Hoffmann, 2016). Facebook uses an undisclosed algorithm to “detect fake or fraudulent profiles” (Haimson & Hoffmann, 2016, para. 14), as well as allowing users to whistle blow on other users they think are not using a “real” name through a reporting system (Haimson & Hoffmann, 2016). Once a user has been flagged as using a “fake” name, they are given a 7 day grace period to provide identity documentation to Facebook that matches their “real” name, with the list of approved documents including “birth certificates, driver’s licenses, bank statements, and medical records” (Haimson & Hoffman, 2016, para. 15). Concurrent with Facebook’s affordances being designed to discriminate against pseudonymous usernames, popular media in recent years has supported the notion that pseudonymity and anonymity online are dangerous to users, perhaps helping to contribute to user’s acceptance of the real name policy. A good example lies in the 2010 documentary film Catfish and subsequent series of the same name. The film and series portrays catfishing (interacting online with a fictional pseudonym with intent to mislead others into a relationship) “as the epitome of “bad” social media use, symptomatic of an unhealthy or problematic subjectivity that is yearning for therapeutic resolution” (Lovelock, 2016, para. 3), hence linking pseudonymity to untrustworthy individuals. Further to negative depictions in popular media, news media has time and time again illustrated the dangers of not knowing the true identity of those we interact with online (Lohse, 1996). Hence, the combination of Facebook’s affordances, as well as user attitudes permeated by popular media and news media, leads to both the acceptance and successful implementation of the real name policy.

Facebook’s real name policy prevents explorations of identity as it leads to context collapse. In 1956, Goffman theorised that individuals play out assigned roles in different social settings, and as such a singular “authentic” version of self does not exist but all “presentations may be “authentic,” though contextually contingent” (Haimson & Hoffmann, 2016, para. 3). In an online space such as Facebook, where audiences from many aspects of our lives exist in a single context, the “singular identity makes it impossible to differ self-presentation strategies” (Marwick & boyd, 2010, p. 122). With a real name linked to a Facebook account, it can be easily discovered by audiences from multiple areas of an individual’s life. The context collapse this causes could prevent and individual from exploring their identity on the platform as this exploration may not line up with their depiction of self to a certain audience. For example, if a teacher is required to use their real name on their Facebook profile, their students are very likely to be able to find this profile (boyd, 2011). The fact that their profile is exposed to their student audience may prevent the teacher from exploring and presenting a faucet of their identity that does not match the one they act out as a teacher.

Due to the nature of Facebook’s real name policy leading to context collapse, users instead turn to sites with affordances for pseudonymity or anonymity to explore parts of their identity that do not fit with certain audiences in their life. Reddit, a social networking service comprised of thousands of special interest forums, allows users to sign up with a pseudonym as a username (www.reddit.com). With these pseudonymous accounts, users’ activity across the whole platform is linked together, though users wanting to remain completely anonymous often create “throwaway” accounts that they use to post only once (van der Nagel & Frith, 2015). In the subreddit r/Gonewild, users post pictures that are sexual in nature, often omitting their face or identifiable details (van der Nagel & Frith, 2015). By allowing pseudonyms, Reddit provides “a way to publicly share representations of a sexual self, without having the posts connected with the rest of that person’s life” (van der Nagel & Frith, 2015, para. 33). Continuing with the example of a teacher previously mentioned, photos of this nature posted under a real name could easily be discovered by students, and this breakdown of constructed identity may lead to negative impacts on the teacher’s working life. Thus, the pseudonymity or anonymity allowed by Reddit is paramount in being able to explore one’s identity. Facebook’s real name policy, on the other hand, prevents any such explorations due to the context collapse it attracts.

Facebook’s real name policy also prevents explorations of identity for marginalised users, as having a name that signifies gender, race or status can lead to discrimination (Kahn et al., 2013). When a user faces discrimination on Facebook because of its “nonymous” nature, they are less likely to contribute to discussions and explore their own identity (Umaña-Taylor et al., 2015, p.88). A study by Dubrovsky, Kiesler and Sethna in 1991 tested the hypothesis that revealing subjects’ education level in discussions led to less input from marginalised users. The study manipulated face-to-face meetings to include one MBA graduate and three first-year college students and found that when all parties were identified, the MBA graduates dominated the meeting. When the same study was conducted in a computer mediated space, where there was anonymity around the subjects’ education levels, all subjects ended up contributing to the meeting equally (Dubrovsky, 1991). Applying the results of this study to Facebook’s real name policy, we may be able to come to the conclusion that having to use one’s real name, something that often indicates gender, race and status, can lead to discrimination from other users and hence discourage one’s explorations of identity.

Users experiencing discrimination on Facebook from having to use their real name may turn to sites where pseudonymity or anonymity is permitted to share their views and express their identity. With anonymous posting there are no means by which other users can stereotype a poster, therefore “expectations for behavior based on these stereotypes should diminish” (Christoperson, 2007, p.3045). Without stereotypical expectations, the focus turns to the content of a post as opposed to the social identity of the user who is posting it (Berg, 2016), and this creates a more open space where ideas and expressions unlinked from race, gender and status can be put forward (Rusech & Märker, 2012). Users are then able to utilise anonymity or pseudonymity to express themselves and explore their identity “without fear of social ostracism” (Barnes, 1999, p.385). In this way, anonymity and pseudonymity create a liberation and freedom to explore identity (Wilhelm, 2000) that cannot be achieved on a social networking service like Facebook where a user’s thoughts are constantly tied to their real name, encouraging discrimination.

For some users, Facebook’s real name policy actually puts their safety at risk should they explore their identity on the platform. Many groups, particularly marginalised groups, need to use pseudonyms on their social profiles to protect their safety (boyd, 2011). Domestic abuse survivors, for example, may want to explore their identity via a profile on Facebook, but need to use a name that cannot be found by their abusers (Levin, 2017). Privacy and safety concerns also extend to trans and drag users who do not go by their legal (or “dead”) names (Dobbs, 2015). Facebook’s real name policy has seen the “systematic deactivation of many accounts belonging to transgender and gender variant users, drag queens, Native Americans, abuse survivors, and others” (Haimson & Hoffmann, 2016, para. 1), and when these users send proof of their legal name, Facebook has been known to change their profile name to match their legal name without permission (Micek, 2015). Facebook’s real name policy caused so much dismay amongst marginalised groups that in 2015, The Nameless Coalition, made up of human rights groups around the world, sent an open letter to Facebook calling for a change of the policy (The Nameless Coalition, 2015). Since then, Facebook claim they have made changes to protect users, though there are still reports of marginalised groups having the same problems with the policy years on (Levin, 2017). Hence, the implementation of Facebook’s real name policy puts certain users at an extreme risk, making the platform an unsafe place for them to explore their identity (boyd, 2011).

After Facebook’s real name policy caused a wave of drag users to have their accounts deactivated or names changed without permission in 2014 and 2015 (MacAulay, 2015), the users that had been impacted invested in other platforms to express their identity. A rival to Facebook, social media site Ello, purported to protect user privacy and publicly spoke against Facebook’s policies (Crookes, 2014). At the time of mass accounts being deactivated due to Facebook’s real name policy in 2014, Ello was “receiving more than 30,000 memberships requests per hour” (Huddleston, 2014). Whilst Ello didn’t maintain its popularity (Locke, 2016), it is an important example of users being willing to defect from Facebook when they can no longer use it as a platform to explore their identity.

There is no doubt that Facebook’s push for real names causes users wishing to explore their identity to invest in alternative platforms. As discussed in this conference paper, Facebook’s real name policy suppresses explorations of identity for a myriad of reasons: requiring users to use a real name causes context collapse; it encourages discrimination; and it creates an unsafe space for many users. All of these reasons lead users to find alternative sites, such as Reddit or Ello, where they are able to participate anonymously or with a pseudonym to explore their identity. Facebook is likely to remain a part of our lives for years to come, and as real name policy progresses and possibly grows, I hope my conference paper will remain relevant in pointing out its flaws for users wishing to explore their identity.   

References

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27 replies on ““Authentic” selves: How Facebook’s push for real names causes users wishing to explore their identity to invest in alternative platforms”

India,

You have presented a very put together piece here. I understand that Facebook’s “real name policy” is not without its controversies as many users have extremely valid reasons for choosing to hide their identity online, albeit just their name.

I do remember quite vividly in 2015-16 when many of my drag queen friends were given the seven days’ notice to provide documents validating their names. This was quite daunting as many professionals in the entertainment industry do rely heavily on their stage name recognition.

I’ve written an LGBTI+ focused piece that touches on catfishing and self-identity on the dating app Grindr – would love for you to take a look.

https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/the-allure-and-anonymity-of-grindr/

Hi Brock

It will be interesting to see how the policy progresses from its current state. I do wonder whether Facebook will keep pushing for more and more supposed “authenticity”, especially keeping in mind Zuckerberg’s perspective on using multiple names.

You make a good point about those in the entertainment industry relying on their stage names. It leads me to question how many individuals the policy has actually had a financial impact on if their account has been deactivated or renamed without permission.

Thanks for your words on my paper, I look forward to reading yours!

Hi India,
I really enjoyed reading your paper, it provided a very clear view of Facebook’s ‘real name’ policy and its flaws. I particularly liked how you pointed out the safety and privacy concerns associated with users’ displaying their ‘real names’ as well as the potential discrimination that could occur for users.
What do you think about Facebook preventing identity exploration due to context collapse? Do you think individuals should be able to explore their identity freely, say through anonymity?
My paper explores the affects of online anonymity, with a focus on how it influences users’ self-disclosure on social platforms. It would be great if you could check it out! https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/the-relationship-between-online-anonymity-and-self-disclosure-of-users-on-social-platforms/

Hi Ruby

Thanks for your comment.

It’s hard for me to come to a conclusion on whether Facebook should offer anonymous posting – in my eyes, there are sites that are built around anonymity (4chan for example), where Facebook is built around a show of identity so its affordances wouldn’t work with true anonymity. With this said, I think users should be able to go by any name they so desire (pseudonymity) on the platform, and that way context collapse can be avoided.

Facebook does have the capability to allow users to only post to specific audiences on their page, but considering their track record where users posts have been made public without permission (https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-bug-14-million-users-posts-public/), I don’t think users trust the feature.

What are your thoughts?

I’ll be sure to check out your paper.

I agree with your comments. I think that social media platforms like Facebook are more focussed on social interaction and making connections and networking, whereas sites like 4chan can be more focussed on sharing and expressing common interests, along with the anonymity and lack of context collapse, potentially making it easier to explore/construct ones’ identity.
I think individuals that customise their content to specific users creates more intimate, stronger ties. Individuals are more authentic and post content they know those users will associate with. So I think it depends on the individual’s audience as to what content they post, and therefore influences what aspects of that individual’s identity is portrayed.

I agree, Facebook and 4chan definitely do well serve their own purposes. I suppose something like Reddit is in the middle of the spectrum as it allows pseudonyms but user’s previous actions are still attached to their presence.

It’s interesting you say that those who segment their content to specific users are more authentic, as I’d say the general opinion (or the opinion of someone like Zuckerberg) would be that posting different things to different people is inauthentic. Your point echos some of Goffman’s sentiments in his concept of dramaturgy – having read his work I’m inclined to agree with you.

Regarding my comment of individuals being more authentic when customising specific content for a specific closer tied group of users, my opinion is that these individuals are often less anonymous and show more aspects of their identity to these users that they share a stronger tie with. Referring to Sharon and John (2018) from my paper, I also think they can be more open and honest as anonymity can reduce the barriers of relational intimacy and make it easier to reconstruct one’s network of social ties, by interacting with users of new, weaker ties, and maintaining existing strong ties. Users can develop a sense of social closeness which can lead to expressing empathy for and openness to others.

So would you say that the sense of social closeness can be achieved both with and without anonymity?

Yes I would say it definitely can be, and in offline as well as online environments. To reiterate what I was saying, I think individuals can be more authentic when customising specific content for a specific close tied group of users compared to if they were sharing information to anyone publicly.

Thanks,
Ruby

Hi India,
I really enjoyed reading your paper and you have some really good points but i have a question on your example about teachers and their students being able to find them. Facebook has settings in order to eliminate this, so teachers would be able to change their account settings to their preference in order to hide anything they don’t particular want their students seeing. This I think works well for Facebook especially because they have the real name rule. This could also be said for anyone are friends with their colleagues on their Facebook but don’t particularly want them to see everything they get up to outside of work hours.

So my question is do you think having these privacy settings makes the real name a little more acceptable for Facebook users or do you think they will continue to find other sources of Social Media?

Thanks,
Jade

Hi Jade

Thanks for your comment.

I see your point about Facebook’s capabilities to block out posts from the public or certain other users. Unfortunately this function doesn’t always seem to work as expected based on Facebook’s track record (https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-bug-14-million-users-posts-public/).

Aside from that, a users profile picture and cover photo is always visible to the public and this can’t be change. I think this doesn’t allow teachers to show another side of themselves in arguably one of the most important spots on the platform.

To answer your question, I’d say if the privacy settings were actually effective and trusted, people wanting to explore identity on the platform would be more inclined to stay. Although I doubt people stay because they trust the privacy, I’d say they stay on Facebook because “everyone” has it and not being on it would be missing out on what is, in some places, a cultural norm. So some people stay for one side of their identity (e.g. professional teacher side), and use other platforms to explore.

Hi India,
Thank you for your answer! I completely understand what you mean and think you make a great point! and I do agree with users having Facebook because it’s now become the “norm”.

Thanks,
Jade

Hi India,

Love this piece!

Everyone presents a different version of themselves online, so why should a name matter whether it is what Facebook deems as “authentic” right?
I really engage with people wanting to create their own identities. One of my friends has recently got his name changed legally so I am aware of the importance of feeling true to oneself. The emotional effects can be detrimental and draining before.

I coincidentally also comment on catfishing in my article, feel free to give it a read and some feedback 🙂

https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/21/online-dating-encouraging-users-to-depict-and-enhance-their-physical-appearance-online/

Look forward to discussing with you soon.

Hey Georgina

Thanks for taking the time to read my paper.

Exactly. Authenticity is such an ambiguous thing to begin with, so Facebook feeling they can define and police it is inherently political. They definitely aren’t considering the emotional effects you mention.

Looking forward to reading your paper 🙂

Hi India

I didn’t know that Facebooks real name policy was even a thing before you (thank you). I have recently had some family members go through the police academy and the police were able to find detailed information on all the recruits despite many of them having the maximum privacy settings. This backs up your comments about privacy settings not being reliable. Because of this police officers are encouraged to change their name on social media to prevent criminals from searching them up. Would love to know your thoughts on police offers being afforded this right but not minorities who are at risk of other potential threats.

There is a large societal debate on the nature of identity and I believe as society develops its understanding of it, social media platforms will move with it. You’ve mentioned that social media platforms vary in nature in terms of expression and interaction. Facebook presents itself as a platform for direct friends and family to share thoughts and experiences but Facebook consistently proposes new connections of people with little to no mutual friends. I do believe Facebook should be as authentic as ethically possible to minimise toxic behaviour and cyber harassment caused by the online disinhibition effect. I discuss this in my paper if you are interested.

There are so many other platforms for identity exploration including both social and gaming, but I think Facebook profiles will be representation of a version of someones identity. Would love to know your thoughts and I really enjoyed your paper.

https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/toxic-identity-performance-and-problematic-behaviour-and-its-relationship-to-online-gaming/

Hi Lochlan

Wow, what an interesting anecdote! It’s a shame that Facebook can acknowledge perceived threats for police officers with “real names” on the platform, but are ignorant to minorities’ struggles.

I’d be interested in your definition of authenticity so I can understand more clearly your point about Facebook. I’d argue that the disinhibition effect still occurs whether a user is anonymous, pseudonymous or using their “real name”.

Thanks for taking the time to read my paper, I’ll be sure to check yours out today!

Hi India

You’ve caught me out here, now that I really think about it measuring a persons authenticity is impossible as even I don’t know when I am truly being authentic. I believe what I meant to say was Facebook should encourage users to display the version of them self that they present to their close friends and family in real life. Although the issue with this is ,the dynamics of Facebook’s user interface and algorithms look to tempt people to expand their network outside of their close friends and family. (Also the already mentioned crappy privacy settings) I am strong believer in keeping a social media sites that present such personal information limited to friends and family. I think the culture around social media has created this global popularity contest, which I think is fine for platforms such as Instagram and Twitter but not for Facebook.

Anonymity I would argue, significantly increases the potential for someone to act in a toxic way as well as the severity of such behaviour. I think if you harass or bully someone over Facebook you should be held publicly and socially accountable. Apologies I’m kind of just rambling and repeating myself now. Could you recommend some articles on this issues I could follow up on?

I think it will be interesting see how increased social awareness and rallying will force Facebook to make even more changes to their platform.

Hi Lochlan

I see your point now. I’d agree that Facebook’s main purpose is more for “inner circle” friends, although in recent years I feel they have attempted to increase what I’d call “celebrity” use of the site. Some features that point to this include monetised videos (and as such ads on videos), the ability to follow others as opposed to friend, and the ability to be “verified” on Facebook.

As Facebook has now acquired Instagram, it’ll be interesting to see what they do to keep both platforms different enough to maintain users on both. Maybe one day we will see them merged.

I suppose I’d agree that anonymity does increase toxic behaviour. With this acknowledged, I think the benefits to allowing anonymity outweigh those who abuse it. Some of the arguments for anonymity are listed in this 2012 paper by Ruesch and Märker, if you’re interested: https://doaj.org/article/215704cf2b544a33bea7b5060d280af2.

I agree – as public consciousness around privacy increases, who knows what Facebook’s next move will be.

Hey India,

This was an interesting paper, i really enjoyed reading your points towards the conversation of Anonymity & Pseudonymity online.

I found out something quite interesting as well about Facebook’s real name policy.

I wanted to create a profile on Facebook but only wanted to have one singular name. I found out that using a VPN (Virtual Private Network), allowed me to create an account with a pseudonym name, as Facebook in Indonesia allows for users to have one name, instead of including a last name.

Do you think that Facebook will ever be able to enforce these policies on everyone around the world?
Or will it be difficult to do so regarding different cultural standards?
-Kieran

Hi Kieran

I didn’t know about that workaround, interesting that they have different allowances dependant on country!

I’d say Facebook will find it increasingly hard to implement the policy as time goes on. I feel that more events like the Cambridge Analytica scandal will occur, and as the public become more conscious of their lack of privacy online, they may feel more compelled to push against real name policies.

What do you think?

Hey India,

I definitely agree with you. Since the leak, Facebook’s public opinion hasn’t been very strong.

I feel as though this will definitely effect the chance of Zuckerburg implementing his ‘real name’ scheme anytime soon.

Seeing how Facebook is globally available, i feel like Facebook will always be changing polices based on different country’s cultural standards.
Maybe, in some ways he will never be able to fully pursue his intended real name ideas.

Thanks for the interesting conversation!

Enjoy the rest of the conference.

-Kieran

Hey India,

I really enjoyed reading your article, congrats on writing such a well structured argument!

With all of the changes Facebook has made over the years to enforce users to display their real names, what other changes to user behaviour do you see happening for people who choose to continue using the platform? Are there certain kinds of people who can thrive within the context collapse of Facebook? Does it mean prioritising one of the many ‘faces’ that are part of your everyday self (to paraphrase Goffman) and if so does that make the ‘identity’ you present more authentic – or less?

Congrats again on such a thought provoking piece!

Luke Webster
PhD candidate
Curtin Internet Studies

Hi India

I read your paper, it was quite interesting and related my papers linkedin unethical practices.

The Facebook name policy promotes credibility of the network services that utilises a member’s identity and adds value to the organisation rather than to benefit the user’s online practices. After reading your article it appears to me that Facebook is focused on a profit motive and has a power struggle between the user and the network to gain user participation and support rather than to promote user safety in online engagement activities.

As Facebook is affiliated with LinkedIn and Instagram the real name policy would apply to members and challenges users to use their real names instead of pseudonyms, however Instagram and Tumblr are flexible allowing alias and anonymity of usernames.

The Facebook name policy presents risks to the exploitation of private data shared in algorithms not limited to the authenticity of profile data but also sharing of personal information on search engines and third party social networking platforms, this linkedin unethical data practice is linked to my paper.

Zuckerberg’s contradictory views of not being in favour of two user identities presents an open door for the incitement of unethical data practices. Yet linkedin is the preferred network for professional networking and facebook is the preferred network for personal networking.

It prompts the question of Facebooks capability as a professional network to support professional connections therefore Zuckerberg’s argument does not appear to be realistic.

Facebook policies claims to practice safety of data use with algorithms to detect fraudulent behaviours, given that facebook user terms and conditions constantly change with the sharing of user data across third party networks.

While a benefit is legal compliance, my question to you is, do you think the network is trustworthy in promoting terms and conditions of the facebook name policy in the long term? Catfish is a great example of pseudonymity, but does this mean that facebook needs to transform from its practices to ensure authenticity features and identity sharing is a priority to promote ethical online practices? Would it have a negative impact on the network support?

Your post sparks a lot of questions about facebooks privacy practices. I believe that facebook is overregulated as a web 2.0 media platform in the absence of a pseudonymity profile practice when it presents a facebook name policy, as it stifles authentic creative expression to share creative content. While reedit enables pseudonymity practices it doesn’t not prevent creative expression of sharing media. Does facebook prevent creative expression and credibility of data shared in the facebook name policy as a motive to exploit private data?

Yes, I agree that facebook discriminates against individual representation and contributions of user identity in the first name policy, however is discrimination the reason to blame facebook for limited engagement? While facebook promotes fear to network members about sharing information, a common practice of the network is to exploit user data indirectly using ongoing privacy practice updates such as sharing user activity in search engines and third party platforms without consent of the online community. Is this an ethical preventative measure to limit unethical behaviour from the facebook network.

Clearly a user is not able to represent themselves authentically, and this should be a concern of the network rather a way of controlling what identity information is required and collected as part of its unethical practices.

Thank you for such an insightful paper,
Aarifah

Hi India,
Your paper was fascinating, and I learnt a lot about the Facebook Real Name policy. I found it particularly interesting around the data sets and the money made by Facebook and how this essentially contributes to why they have enforced it in recent times. I somewhat agree with the idea of having your real name on your social media profile, however, also understand that for some this may be a risk or a feeling of conformity. I also feel that on Instagram, as this is a different style of platform, that you could have another identity. What are your thoughts on the difference between the two?
As social media progresses, I believe Facebook will evolve with the times, so they stay relevant and one of the go to social media platforms. More laws could be introduced to protect the general public and ensure any criminal behaviour is easily identified and prosecuted, as you have touched on this was not necessarily the case previously due to anonymity.
I find social media and the different platforms intriguing, and how they play a different part in peoples lives. My paper focuses on identities built online and social platforms, and how these identities can differ depending on the platform. I explore why it might not just be the photos and videos you post on social media that build this identity. If you’d like to read my paper, you can find it here: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/identity-built-unknowingly-online-ambient-awareness-building-a-users-identity-from-online-social-communities/

Hello,

I agree with your point that Facebook is a platform is a mean of socialising and content sharing. Through the reading of your paper I found very the Facebook real name policy and I’ve learned a lot about it. I think that Facebook will continue to evolved with the uprising in technological shifting and nowadays this platforms have even become a way to express ourselves through jokes and sarcasm via memes. Do

I invite you to read my paper:

https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/ideal-self-the-virtual-representation-of-identity-on-facebook/

Hi India!

Thank you for sharing your opinions and thoughts about Facebook and their anti-pseudonymity + anonymity policies.

I myself have a Facebook account where I use a fake name, however, I never had any complaints from Facebook (thankfully). I use a fake name because I do not want people to find me especially employers, but at the same time, I do not want to miss out on the content the platform provides. I am a big user of Reddit and Instagram, both where I do not provide my name. I think I just prefer to be hard to find online and like to keep my offline and online selves separate. If I want to be in contact with someone I provide my usernames/ name in order for them to add me (or I add them).

As you mentioned, Facebook’s real name policy exists in order to maintain a safe environment, however, I have come across a lot of its downsides. My friends got harassed by an unknown person back in high school, who when reported and deleted by Facebook would make a new account and continue stalking them. All my friends were worried about the amount of data the other user already knows about them such as their name and location and knowing who they are friends with. Only one of my friends wasn’t private but managed to disclose a lot of information about others as well.

I have also come across extremist and violent groups posting “deep web” videos, where if a user was once added couldn’t leave. The group made it clear that if they report the chat/ group to Facebook they will take extra measures as they already know all the user’s names and other information Facebook forces users to provide. One of my friends was added to such a group.

Facebook argues that by using a real name they create a safe environment, however, many illegal and disturbing content is found on Facebook with many people becoming victims of stalkers. They can’t monitor everyone and find every single person with a fake name, hence they haven’t found me yet. So, instead, I think it would useful to allow users to go by the name they want in order to protect their own information.

Relying on my personal experiences, I have noticed that the upcoming generations do not use Facebook, because they cannot share content as anonymously and with no aftermath as for example compared to Snapchat. My question is, do you think Facebook will disappear as it is becoming less popular with emerging generations because they do not uphold the same ideas of anonymity and online responsibility?

Thank you!

India,

This is a really intriguing paper, I love that you put many examples that are too real. I’m not a Facebook user myself, but I can see that these cases happen in pretty much every social media platforms. I also like the example of teacher on Facebook and teacher in real life, it is factual that people could have contrasting online and offline persona. I think it is beyond normal, just because they have to act or perform in certain ways concerning their “professional” identity. As you already know, there are many social media users who have more than one account (let’s pretend the first account is authentic), and the second, third, maybe fourth accounts are mostly used to follow and stalk other users without having to be identified as their true selves. I think as long as those fake social media users don’t use it to scam people or use someone else’s identity, overall cause any harm to anyone, I honestly think it is fine. What do you think?

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