Facebook took its latest steps to reform its controversial real-names policy with its introduction of tools to fine-tune the reporting process and make it easier for reported users to explain their circumstances.
First, we want to reduce the number of people who are asked to verify their name on Facebook when they are already using the name people know them by. Second, we want to make it easier for people to confirm their name if necessary. These tools have been built based on many conversations with community leaders and safety organizations around the world.
The first new tool is a revamped reporting tool for names that requires users making reports to explain why they are doing so, rather than simply reporting “fake names,” as was the case in the past. Osofsky and Gage wrote:
In the past, people were able to simply report a “fake name” but now they will be required to go through several new steps that provide us more specifics about the report. This additional context will help our review teams better understand why someone is reporting a name, giving them more information about a specific situation.
And the second tool, for users who have been reported, gives them more ways to provide information about their specific circumstances and why they have chosen their user names. Osofsky and Gage wrote:
We’re also testing a new tool that will let people provide more information about their circumstances if they are asked to verify their name. People can let us know they have a special circumstance, and then give us more information about their unique situation. This additional information will help our review teams better understand the situation so they can provide more personalized support. This information will also help inform potential improvements we can make in the future.
The two new tools are being tested “on a limited basis” via mobile and desktop to U.S. users, and Facebook plans to roll them out globally after collecting and acting upon feedback.
Osofsky and Gage also discussed other measures Facebook has taken related to its real-names policy, including accepting a wider range of documents for verifying names, allowing reported users access to their accounts for seven days and boosting security protections for documents that are shared with the social network.
As for the future, they wrote:
These improvements are only the beginning. Early in the new year, we will be looking at other ways we can reduce the number of people who have to go through an ID verification experience, while preserving the safety of other people on the site. We will also continue to work on making the experience itself more compassionate and easier to navigate. Throughout this process, we will continue our ongoing conversations with the Facebook community so they can share their thoughts on improvements they’d like to see.
Readers: What do you think of how Facebook is handling its real-name policy?
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