Use Fake Name on Facebook? ...Facebook will use your Friend nail You

When it comes to respecting and upholding the privacy of its users; the world is not a big fan of Facebook. And there are reasons for it. Facebook has a history of rolling out features which knowingly or unknowingly evade user privacy.

Understandably, Facebook habitually takes three steps forward and one backward, when it comes to privacy.

That said, the latest on Facebook and the privacy of its users relates to its action plan, aimed at weeding out fake names on its platform.

Facebook's war on Fake Names on Facebook:

Facebook is amply aware that a sizeable number of Facebook users are using Fake or Pseudonyms on its platform.

This Facebook says not only increases the problem of Spam and illegal activities on the platform; but also prevents it from deriving authentic intelligence on usage patterns.

Hence Facebook wants to minimise such Fake name accounts as quickly as possible. To accomplish this, it is using your Facebook Friends (who know you in real world as well).

Yes, Facebook friends are being used against each other to identify fake names.   Designed to weed out anyone on Facebook that’s using a pseudonym over a real name, the social network rolled out a method of name verification several month ago using third parties.

Under this method, Facebook uses a pop-up window to survey users on the validity of their friend’s names. Hoping that friends will spy on each other, the pop-up survey, states that the survey is an attempt to help it (Facebook) understand how people are using Facebook. Adding further that the survey response is anonymous and won’t affect the friend’s account. The survey pointedly asks this:

"Is this your friend’s real name?”

The window also displays the user’s profile picture, name and current location. The Facebook user can choose between four answers:

“Yes, No, I don’t know this person and I don’t want to answer.”

According to Facebook, the survey is Facebook's attempt to collect the data to gain a “better understanding of its ecosystem. However its quickly adds that, it’s definitely possible that the data could eventually be used to identify specific accounts that are violating Facebook’s Name policy.

But Facebook clarifies that with respect to this survey data, the data is completely anonymized (Name of the respondent is not saved). In addition, the Fake account so nailed down will not be reported for any enforcement action. Basically, what this model does is help better inform Facebook in how to classify different types of accounts. That apart, Facebook underlines that a particular account suspected of a Fake Name is chosen by a system, and there's no human touch in the process.

Facebook's official Policy on Names:

Facebook has an official policy on Names. Like its has one one Age -- which states any person below the age of 13 years is not eligible to join Facebook.

According to Facebook’s official policy on names, users are required to use their real name as it would appear on a credit card or identification card. Nicknames are allowed, assuming the nickname applies to the first or middle name. Under account settings, a Facebook user can also add an alternate name which could be an extended nickname or a maiden name before a woman getting married.

Professional additions to names should also be added to the alternate name section rather than changing the main account name.

Facebook policy clearly states “we remove fake accounts from the site as we find them.”

Should you see this as spying on you and as a consequence a threat to your Privacy?

As a Facebook user you can.

People use Fake names on Facebook for purposes which many a times are different from spamming, scamming or stalking reasons, Sometimes people are more comfortable with a pseudonym and hence they choose one.

Since the data derived by Facebook via a Facebook Friend is not being used for enforcement purposes, nor it is used to remove the Fake account (Facebook says the Account of the Friend nailed for using a Fake name will not affected -- which is Facebook clearly ignoring the official policy despite finding users with fake names) ; hence it can be assumed that Facebook wants to derive more information about you. The information which you yourself are not willing to reveal. This can be seen as a privacy threat.

Some Numbers:

According to Facebook’s internal estimates, approximately 8.7 percent of the 955 million user accounts are fake. Nearly 46 million are duplicate accounts, 23 million are classified incorrectly and about 14 million have been created by “undesirable” people like spammers. --------

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