back to article Facebook's position on real names not negotiable for dissidents

Facebook's real-name-only approach is non-negotiable – despite claims that it puts political activists at risk, one of its senior policy execs said this morning. Simon Axten, of Facebook's public policy team, said today that the "real name culture" was an essential element of the social networking platform. However, the policy …


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  1. John Lilburne

    Fucking ejit

    I have two FB accounts neither of which use my real name because I never use my real name online. So groups of people know me as either X or Y.

    The grandkids don't use their real names on FB either. One of the stepkids worked in forensic mental health the last thing he wants is for his (ex)patients to know about his family or extended family.

    One should not be able to put Davy Jones into PIPL and come up with real life facebook accounts.

    1. LaeMing

      Yes, how do they know?

      How do the know a legit-sounding name it real or ficticous?

      I wonder how the guy from around here in the 90's who's legal name (by deed-pol) was "Zero Population Growth" would get on?

      And what if my online identity is better-known than my real one anyway?

      Immaginary people want to know!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    No the policy does not put activists at risk. Not one little bit. What puts activists at risk would be choosing to use Facebook with that well publicised policy in place. Other social networking platforms are available.

    1. cyborg

      I can't agree more

      Really, really is your own fault if you're going to choose what is essentially a broadcast medium for your subversive activities.

    2. Mark 65


      I would like to think that if I were a dissident living under the rule of an oppressive dissident-battering regime I would take my personal safety and of the group a little more seriously than using Facebook - "Protest 9am outside parliament, be there, down with the regime, lolz".

  3. Iggle Piggle

    I hate to agree with Facebook

    but I like the idea that in theory everyone is going by their real name. I do understand why a dissidents might find it awkward to use Facebook to organise peaceful protests, sit ins, riots, or anything else. But that was never the purpose of Facebook. If you want anonymity then Facebook is not the place post your deepest thoughts.

    On the other hand not everyone with a pseudonym has something to hide. You won't find me on Facebook as IgglePiggle but I really do not want hassle from someone who might take one of my comments to heart.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Iggle Piggle is such an unusual name

      Is that real or don't you do as you preach?

      And no, I'm NOT called "Anonymous Coward"

  4. Ally J

    "the account ID is not actually exposed to prying eyes."

    ... until FB make another global change to privacy settings, of course.

    And what's to stop Mr Secret Policeman setting up a Facebook identity and 'liking' one of these pages?

    There does seem to be an awful lot of simple-minded thinking by Facebook here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Not quite

      "There does seem to be an awful lot of simple-minded thinking by Facebook here."

      I think you'll find facebook has thought this out very well, and it is in done deliberately to maximise their profits through marketing people's personal connections and data.

  5. Andy Watt

    Oh yeah? And what about the other rules...

    And I quote - from "":

    4. Registration and Account Security


    5. You will not use Facebook if you are under 13.

    They're not policing that one very well either, are they? I know of an awful lot of under 13s (friends kids) who have FB IDs - and shouldn't. In addition, I'm sure this was 14 until very VERY recently. Watch out for it crawling lower or even disappearing.

    As a paranoid aside - check out what happens if you try to use the Wayback engine to view the terms and conditions page for facebook:


    Robots.txt Query Exclusion.

    We're sorry, access to has been blocked by the site owner via robots.txt.


    Frankly, Facebook want their shit-tasting aggregating cake to be force fed to all of us - their business model relies on it - so anything which subverts it is great in my book.

    Long live the resistance - fill the book with insane, inane drivel which pollutes brand loyalty concepts and pisses all over statistics for brand mentions. Expose their model for what it is - ruthless trawling of personal data, given up by the masses without thinking.

    Zuckerberg thinks you're a moron - he has since college - so prove him right and talk nothing but random untrue drivel on your facebook page, and call yourself whatever you want.

    1. The Messiah by my Handle

      Age requirement for FB

      Has always been 13. If you look at most US-based websites or online services that allow registration, they are age-limited to 13+ to comply with the US "Child Online Protection Act" of 1998.

      Of course, there's also those sites that require 18+...

  6. Bob 18

    Realy now...

    Believe it or not, we had effective on-line communities before Facebook. We still do. In those communities, it is standard practice to NOT use your real name. And believe it or not, those communities are effectively moderated, and they work. No need for Facebook (or anyone else) to act as a Central Big Brother.

    Facebook goes against all former notions of how activism and community-building on-line is supposed to work. They specialize in removing your privacy, to the greatest extent possible. If people don't like it... well, they shouldn't use Facebook. There are many other (safer) ways to build your dissident community.

  7. Cameron Colley

    Real names, really?

    Next you'll be telling me I'm a Scottish journalist who had a run in with an old friend who went on a murderous rampage (I'm not the one on facebook now).

    I do have to agree with a poster above: don't use facebook for [partially]*anonymous communication because it isn't.

    *If you don't use an unsecured WiFi network with a MAC address nobody knows, or can find out, you own you're not doing it anonymously even if you don't ever give your name.

  8. copsewood
    Big Brother

    I'm not willing to use my real name on FB

    Matter of principle. If they ever enforce it in my case they are kicking me off by doing so. There is also no way I want my students or employer management prying into my private life. FB have a policy of 1 user account per individual as well, which stinks for the same reason.

    >4. Registration and Account Security

    > 2. You will not create more than one personal profile.

  9. Anonymous Coward

    You mean there really is

    Someone out there called Mairy Hinge???? And his mate C**ty Wankface?? Fuc Kwit??

    Oh deary me!!!

  10. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

    If you have nothing you value then you have nothing to hide.

    Facebook is about real world contacts and going by your real name. This is dangerous and why it should be adults only. We tell our children not to give their real names and addresses to strangers online. Obviously this is what happens when you stick up a web page with these details.

    Facebook perhaps is the wrong tool for protesting against the government or your employer or if you're a child or if your doing something your partner might get upset about.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Facebook real names

    And then you have a company like Linden Labds,pushing their users to link their accounts with Facebook, requiring users to register their real details but now allowing them to have real names inside the virtual SecondLife. You can't even use a last name anymore. But if you try to use a secondlife name on facebook,as soon as they get wind of it they close the acocunt,even though you can link your SecondLife identity to Facebook with just one click.

  12. Whitter


    Teachers are pretty well explicitly told NOT to use their real name on FB.

  13. steward

    Facebook requires -personal- names

    Not legal names.

    I know several people who have adopted new personal names without resorting to the Courts to do so; they use their "legal" names only when absolutely necessary.

    And having "personal" names which are far different from "legal" names has been a tradition in US activism for several decades. Don't know why it'd be any different anywhere else.

  14. SomeGuy

    Whats to stop me?

    I have been using a false name on FB since joining how are FB going to know it's fake ?

  15. Edward Copeland

    Facebook requires real names? Don't make me laugh

    With so many people pretending to be celebrities on Facebook, I find it hard to believe they even have such a policy and even if they do, they certainly don't enforce it. There are people who have the same name as movie characters, dead movie stars, etc. Activists can certainly create pseudonyms.

    1. LaeMing

      I guess.,.

      ... by real name, they don't mean actual name. Just any name that sounds real goes?

  16. SirTainleyBarking

    Facebook's position on real names

    So people who have registered as Tweetie Pie, Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Tazmanian Devil and numerous other Trademarked cartoon Characters are actually CALLED that.

    In Real Life?

    There are either some sad people out there, with parents who really hated them, or more likely there are people who really don't take the T&C's seriously and neither does Farcebook..

  17. This post has been deleted by its author

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Real Name Culture IMPOSED, not INVITED

    "The real-name culture was one of the differentiators of Facebook when it began"

    BULLSHIT. They added that requirement in later. I was horrified when they did.

    How dare you lie and imply this was something Facebook did from the start?

  19. Deano2099


    The problem is "everyone should use their real name" is not at all a fair policy. Because John Smith remains essentially anonymous, while Buckminster McOnion is entirely identifiable.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Seriously sucks ass

    Their real name policy seriously sucks ass because there is no way to check if that is the persons real name and relies upon truth from the person themselves which is rarely forthcoming. A friend of mine had a stalker who created over 14 accounts with different names to 'friend' her boyfriend to stir up trouble. The 14 accounts is an estimate because they think it could be over 30 accounts!

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I've used a pseudonym on Arsebook since I first signed up. There's no way I'd consider using my real name as I keep work and social lives totally separate and don't want my employer nosing about in what I do in my own time. To put it bluntly, it's none of their bloody business!

    AC for exactly the same reason

  22. Ben Rosenthal

    real dissidents

    use Puffin Party Chat

  23. mark l 2 Silver badge

    real names

    I know some of my female friends on facebook whos 'real name' is Little princess or Daves wifey and obviously these are not there legal names. Yet facebook wouldn't let me set my name to El Diablo when i tried to do so because it wasn't a real name?

    But as others have point out if you want to remain anonymous Facebook is not the place to be unless you are using a fake profile and accessing it through TOR

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    absolutely terrible!

    It's clearly facebook's reponsibility to provide a secure method for activists to communicate. In fact, I have found - to my horror - that my car has transparent windows, and that the government could well see right inside! And the manufacturer clearly has no commitment to the safety of activists: I have also learned that the doors aren't bulletproof! It's clear to me that my car manufacturer places the almighty dollar above delivering a vehicle which can be used in support of the fight against government oppression.

    Not only that - I have also found that my coffee maker is in no way equipped to filter out cyanide and other poisons. As someone who leaves his coffee maker in public, I find this omission to be unconscionable, and a clear vote by the manufacturer for MONEY over MORALS!

  25. Michael C


    I have a very select face book friend list. Other than some immediate family, and close friends, I have a few folks I knew from high school in there, and only becasue we have an impending reunion I need to stay in the loop about. Of my maybe 50 friends total, more than 15 are using false names, and at least 10 have more than 1 FB account. My wife has 2 accounts, and her Mom has 3...

    Why not enforce a few other rules: like no under 13 accounts? I know 4 people's kids who have FB accounts and their age is CLEARLY DISPLAYED in their profile, in counter to the TOS, and yet, the accounts are still there...

    Anyone who wants a fake-name account can EASILY maintain one. This is a crock.

  26. kellerr13


    Extremist Muslims, Pirates, Criminals, etc. etc. will be able to use Facebook (or other online services) to track down, not only the person who's account it is, but their family. Including their children.

    I don't have a facebook account, but those groups could always track me down based on a family member posting to facebook.

    I assure you that when the day comes that a child was harmed because of the policy of facebook, that a judge will not look favorably on facebook, and they may find themselves bankrupt in legal expenses.

    It's a bad idea.

  27. tony trolle

    I use a "fake" name

    still get found by my old friends, it's that mutual friend thing on FB

    Still have about 500 unknowns for Mafia Wars, not played for over 8 weeks tho.

  28. kosmos


    They could investigate the creation of an application that can tie activists into an advocacy group that can deliver a more secure forum. Maybe working with an organisation like Amnesty International could help.

  29. .james


    Take a look at & see how many 'celebrity' friends he has.

    I made up an Angus Deayton account just to be his friend. It was a few years ago & I'd forgotten about it until I read this...

    I have a real account for people I have met in real life (remember that) aka people I met before 1997. & a made up name account for all the people I only know from the 'net. Thanks to BT's spoken txt service I was able to 'verify' my mobi number from a phone box. :D

  30. ShaggyDoggy

    No prob

    2. You will not create more than one personal profile.

    is not the same as

    2. You will not create more than one profile.

    off you go

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