Facebook improves authentic names policy to protect users

Access Now welcomes changes to Facebook “authentic name” policy

Global — On Tuesday, Facebook announced changes to its “authentic name” policy that are designed to help vulnerable users avoid harassment or having their accounts suspended.

This is a welcome development, and Facebook should be congratulated for two important improvements: Facebook is requiring those flagging account names as fake to submit written statements of explanation, and it’s giving personalized support to those who have been flagged to help resolve their account suspension.

Access Now, one of the diverse groups in the Nameless Coalition, sent Facebook an open letter in October proposing a number of changes to its “authentic name” policy. After hearing from civil society, Facebook is making it more difficult to discriminate against vulnerable users.

The following statement can be attributed to Peter Micek, Global Policy and Legal Counsel, Access Now.

Flagging drag queens, gender rights activists, and human rights defenders en masse should take a bit more time and energy. Adversaries will have to actually put some effort into abusing the platform, rather than just clicking the first button that pops up.

Suspended users will now benefit from the opportunity to explain their situation to Facebook. This is essential, and gives users a chance to educate Facebook on their plight.

Facebook should ensure staff are properly trained to handle these ‘special circumstance’ requests, in-language and with understanding of local contexts. Setting up an appeal mechanism is no small feat, and we encourage Facebook to make this process as transparent as possible and invite input from a range of stakeholders to provide input on its design.

Facebook is a member of the Global Network Initiative (GNI), a good body to assess the checkpoint and appeal process.

We look forward to these changes rolling out globally, and that future improvements continue to respond to the testimony of civil society and users at risk.”

Media contact

Peter Micek
Global Policy and Legal Counsel, Access Now
[email protected]
tel: +1-888-414-0100 x709