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Thursday, October 08, 2015

Rights groups: Darn you Facebook with your 'government names'

ZuckerBorg can assimilate us, but not on those terms

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The ZuckerBorg's continued refusal to assimilate anyone who won't provide their "real" name to the site has provoked an angry letter from 75 human rights, digital rights, LGBTQ and women's rights advocates.
Facebook has always claimed its "real name" policy protects users from harassment, as without the right to anonymity users are less likely to behave online in a manner they would not attempt in meatspace.
A letter sent to the company today, however, takes issue with this.
The so-called "Nameless Coalition" stated: "It's time for Facebook to provide equal treatment and protection for all who use and depend on Facebook as a central platform for online expression and communication."
The coalition members – which included the American Civil Liberties Union of California, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch – issued five demands to which it asked Facebook to respond by 31 October.
  • Commit to allowing pseudonyms and non-legal names on its site in appropriate circumstances, including but not limited to situations where using an every day name would put a user in danger, or situations where local law requires the ability to use pseudonyms.
  • Require users filing real name policy abuse reports to support their claims with evidence. This could come in written form, multiple-choice questions, or some alternative documentation.
  • Create a compliance process through which users can confirm their identities without submitting government ID. This could include allowing users to submit written evidence, answer multiple-choice questions, or provide alternative documentation such as links to blog posts or other online platforms where they use the same identity.
  • Give users technical details and documentation on the process of submitting identity information such as where and how it is stored, for how long, and who can access it. Provide users with the ability to submit this information using PGP or another common form of encrypted communication, so they may protect their identity information during the submission process.
  • Provide a robust appeals process for users locked out of their accounts. This could include the ability to request a second review, to submit different types of evidence, and to speak to a real Facebook employee, especially in cases involving safety.
The coalition notes several incidents in which Facebook's reporting process has been abused for harassment or censorship purposes.

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