A German regulator ordered Facebook to stop regulating names and allow users to use pseudonyms on the social network. This comes after a complaint by a German woman from Hamburg complained to the authorities about the excessive nature of Facebook’s naming policies.
The decision reached is that Facebook must not control people’s names on its site, and must allow at least some pseudonyms to be taken by people who want to protect their identity.
Now, this may seem pretty normal. Don’t we all? But what happened was not only did Facebook temporarily shut down her account, it also asked for an ID copy so as to see her real name, after which it simply changed it without even asking her.
Facebook has repeatedly defended its policy by saying that using real names doesn’t invade people’s privacy, but rather protects them from others. Their belief is that when you have a friend who uses a pseudonym, then how can you be sure about that friend being trustworthy?
On previous instances that spurred debate, Facebook said that, as its EU headquarters was located in Ireland, than it should only abide to the law present in Ireland. The German court has firmly been against this, saying that as long as Facebook is active in their territory, it should respect their law.
The privacy watchdog from Ireland audited Facebook’s privacy standards back in 2011. The decision reached was that Irish Law was being respected and that the reasons for such strict naming guidelines by Facebook are, in the end justified. The winning argument was that it enforces child safety an makes sure that harassment on the web does not take place.
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