Facebook is said to be working on an application that would allow users to post under a false name. It follows on from a relaxing of the “real names” rules on the main Facebook site.
Officially at least, Facebook has always insisted members use their real name, something it believes makes users more accountable for the comments and content they post.
Recently somebody reported several hundred accounts belonging to what Facebook described as drag queens, drag kings and transgender people as not operating under the person’s real name. That led to a debate about the policy, which in turn prompted Facebook to clarify that the intended spirit of the rules is that people on Facebook use the same name they use in real life, which may not necessarily be their legal name.
The site says it will now review its policy on verifying flagged accounts (which currently involves a demand for ID) to manage the process in “a less abrupt and more thoughtful way.”
In what appears to be an unconnected development, the New York Times now quotes two anonymous sources as saying Facebook is developing a standalone application that would allow users to interact using any name they like. The app is said to be the work of staff from branch, an online discussion tech firm bought out by Facebook.
Facebook isn’t commenting on the reports and there’s no word yet on how the app would integrate with the main site. That could create an awkward situation for Facebook: it may want to have the ability to identify a particular user in case any postings led to a legal situation, but that could undermine the anonymous element of the app.
The app may be connected to the recent announcement that Facebook is looking at starting up online support communities related to medical conditions. Some potential users may be unwilling to discuss sensitive conditions if their identity would be revealed.