The German authorities will not permit Facebook to impose its real name policy on people, as it goes against their privacy laws. It seems that not even the social network co get past the German watchdog, that has managed to put a clear end to this excessively strict rule, at least on German soil.
The situation that sparked this entire legal attention was that of a German woman whose Facebook account was blocked due to the fact that she hadn’t used her real name. The woman was asked to provide an identity card or a passport, and then her account name was changed to her real name, despite her wish to remain under the pseudonym, that was protecting her personal Facebook account from business-related issues that would come up if her real name was displayed publicly.
The main reason why the German authorities have deemed Facebook’s real name policy inapplicable is the fact that a social media platform does not have the legal authority to ask for a a person’s official authentication documents, as this violates the German privacy laws.
“The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people’s privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they’re sharing and connecting with,” declared the disappointed Facebook officials in regards to this event.
While Facebook makes a perfectly good point on this matter, there are many more situations when a pseudonym could provide users with the privacy they need. Furthermore, certain people might be known in their communities by their nickname, stage name, work name and so on, and they lose extensive visibility by being obligated to use their real names. This was the case of numerous drag queens whose Facebook online presence was greatly affected by the social network’s strict policies.
The issue of Native Americans has also come up, as their names differ significantly from conventional ones, since they frequently include animal and plant names and therefore are considered as fake names by Facebook.
For the moment, the extent of the real name policy is strictly related to location, as different countries feel differently about just how much authority Facebook should be granted. It remains how this intricate matter will be resolved, so that a universal policy could be established, that will hopefully represent the user’s best interest.
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