Social Network

German Regulators Want Facebook To Allow Pseudonyms

By Denivee Noble , Jul 29, 2015 12:11 AM EDT

Security watchdogs in Germany have said that Facebook is prohibited from preventing people to use aliases and forcing them to stick to their real names. The social network is also not allowed to ask for an official ID of their users. The use of chosen names allows Facebook users control over what they can share and how they want to share it, said the security watchdogs. A report from GMA Network cites a case in which a user has been blocked from the social network as a result of using an alias.

The user, a woman, complained that Facebook blocked her account and asked for an ID. She said she did not want to use her real name on Facebook to avoid people contacting her for business purposes. A German privacy firm also filed a case against the social company in June because of the way Facebook tracks user activities. Other privacy authorities in Spain, France and Denmark have also begun working on sorting out Facebook's terms in their respective countries.

Facebook has defended its rule of using real names on the social networking site. It is also a protective action for other users who interact with one another to the platform, as transparency is enforced. And the settings enables the users to control who sees what in the contents of their accounts.

"The use of authentic names on Facebook protects people's privacy and safety by ensuring people know who they're sharing and connecting with," said a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook also argued that it is subject only to Irish laws, as its headquarters is located there. The use of authentic names in the platform is deemed lawful by Irish security watchdogs, in a Dec 2011 audit. The Hamburg Data Protection Authority is unaccepting of this.

This is not the first time the use of aliases has been an issue of the company. Members who argue for the use of pseudonyms claim its for freedom of self-expression and security purposes. When the same-sex marriage was ruled legal in the U.S. last month, a group of advocates said that while Facebook has shown support for the LGBT community with the rainbow display photos, it should be called out for not allowing people to use names of their choice, which they said, are "extensions" of themselves. 

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