Facebook, Germany At Odds Over Users’ Real Names, Pseudonyms

By David Cohen 

Facebook and Germany are at odds again, this time over whether the social network’s insistence that users provide their real names conflicts with the country’s data-protection law that permits the use of pseudonyms.

SlashGear reported that the law has not yet been adopted throughout the country, but the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in the state of Schleswig-Holstein demanded that Facebook change its policy, and other states are expected to follow suit.

The “What names are allowed on Facebook?” section of the social network’s help center states:

Facebook is a community where people use their real identities. We require everyone to provide their real names, so you always know who you’re connecting with.

But SlashGear reported that Thilo Weichert, privacy commissioner and head of ULD Schleswig-Holstein, said in a statement:

It is unacceptable that a U.S. portal like Facebook violates German data-protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end. The aim of the orders of ULD is to finally bring about a legal clarification of who is responsible for Facebook and to what this company is bound to.

Weichert also told SlashGear, “We informed our colleagues, and most of the supervising authorities agree with us,” adding that Facebook has two weeks to object in court.

A spokesperson for the social network told ITWorld:

We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers’ money, and we will fight it vigorously.

Readers: Do you believe Facebook users should be required to provide their real names?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.