Facebook Apologizes for Real Name Policy’s Impact, But No Real Changes Yet

Oct 01, 2014
Matt Cagle

Page Media

group at Facebook

Today the ACLU, along with a coalition of partner organizations, went to Facebook to urge it to fix its flawed “real name” policy and provide users meaningful due process.

During that meeting Facebook apologized for the harm that the current policy has caused users, especially those in the LGBTQ community, and promised to improve its reporting, enforcement, and appeals processes.

This is an important first step, but there have not been any policy changes yet. We will be keeping tabs on Facebook to ensure it puts its resources where its mouth is and follows through with real policy changes.

More than a billion people rely on Facebook to communicate and connect with friends, family and their communities. And too often, people find themselves silenced for allegedly breaking a company rule and left without meaningful recourse.

This past month, Facebook’s enforcement of its flawed “real name” policy blocked the profiles of many in the LGBTQ community

Today, the coalition reminded Facebook that policies and processes that reduce discriminatory targeting and improper silencing of user voices are essential.

For many Facebook users, a real name is the one they prefer to speak with – even if that does not match their current government ID. Facebook is beginning to recognize this reality.

Unfortunately, many users still remain locked out of their accounts or are being forced to display a legal name that they do not use in real life and that can raise safety risks. We will continue to watch the steps Facebook takes and encourage the company to make changes that benefit free speech for all.

Matt Cagle is a technology and civil liberties legal fellow with the ACLU of Northern California.