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Real name policies and ruling the world (theartificialintelligenceblog.com)
158 points by killer1loop 178 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 145 comments



I've had a clearly fake name on Facebook for years. A couple weeks ago I got message from one of their reps, letting me know that there was an issue about my name, and that it was currently being reviewed. I had no intention to link that account to my real name, as it was mostly political whining and interaction with a few close friends. I basically told them that I wouldn't change the name and that they should just delete the account. A couple days later they responded by telling me that my name did not break TOS and that I was free to use my fake name. So I'm not even sure that policy is even enforced, steered... maybe.


Because real name policies are like putting a band-aid on a cancer patient. The biggest difference is that anonymity on the internet is a feature not a bug. If your service relies on having real names to prevent TOS violations you're going to have a bad time.

http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Who_is_harmed_by_a_%22Rea...


It's enforced if people choose to report you, and 'proving' your name to them can be somewhat involved

It's also more likely they will hassle you over it if your name isn't white. Maybe those sorts of names tend to be fake more often, but probably not.


I'm pretty sure I was reported by someone I disagreed with in the comments of a political post. My point was that I bypassed "proving" because I refused to comply to their rule.

I've seen no evidence of different treatment based on race. Would you mind citing your source?


I've been told Native Americans often have problem with the "real names" policy because they often sound "fake" to people used to European names.


Yes. For example, Begay is a common Navajo surname. Others use traditional names (such as Standing Bear, for example). Odds are the people at facebook making these decisions have never known anyone with such a name.


Well odds are that these people at not even in the USA and would have even less idea or impose there cultures pov - this may explain why the is real name policy seems to be targeted at LBGT people.


Some people have their (foreign) names outright banned on Facebook because they happen to be offensive in other cultures:

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/technology-science/technology/f...

At least if the real name policy wasn't required they could go by an inoffensive alternate name... but I think it's also unfair to police real names like that.

An interesting footnote is that one of the examples in that article was a Facebook employee and the company still treated them like shit.


The wifes got 4 profiles for 4 different groups of friends.. Dont see anything wrong with that (except it bumping up the facebook user count)


It's been known for a long time that the "authentic name" policy is dangerous and is used as a device of suppression on many people. [1] [2] But Facebook, in its desire to target ads and network connections based on real names, has not shown much interest in removing that policy and allowing pseudonyms. Even now the policy and its enforcement are not clear, and what happens depends on the flagging system and who reviews the account.

Coming from Facebook, this news about moderators' details being shared with suspected terrorists is neither surprising nor shocking to me. Frustrated and upset? Yes. But, shocked? Not even a bit! I personally would be shocked if I found that Facebook had taken preemptive measures to not allow this to happen or if Facebook responds quickly to allow these people to use pseudonyms or not even sharing their information with the suspects. We know none of that will happen because Facebook's outlook has never ever favored better privacy and protection for Facebook users. If it has, that's probably only an accidental one and not the result of any kind of introspection that produces a different vision, which in turn drives and sustains positive changes. Facebook has made it quite clear through its actions and responses where its priorities lie and where it just doesn't give a damn.

Though termed as a "social network", I'd call Facebook "a net antisocial network for humankind" based on its policies and actions.

P.S.: I realize this may look like a bad rant reflecting my personal views strongly. But this is how I see and understand Facebook through the years.

[1]: https://www.theverge.com/2015/10/5/9455071/nameless-coalitio...

[2]: https://act.eff.org/action/dear-facebook-authentic-names-are...


Forcing moderators scrutinizing terrorists to use their real identities was a stupid, stupid idea that I hope facebook will change going forward. Perhaps facebook can look into getting some sort of anonymous identity for its moderators.

At the same time, it seems a false equivalency to use a story about people using real identities to scrutinize terrorist to support a position that it is dangerous for anyone to post real identity and photos online.

Certainly it is dangerous for children, teenagers, or people involved in dangerous work to post their identities online. As to ordinary adults who not involved in dangerous lines of work and with sufficient discretion . . . any danger inherent in this is a much weaker position that this article doesn't give much in the way of support for.


> Certainly it is dangerous for […]

Here’s a more exhaustive list:

http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Who_is_harmed_by_a_%22Rea...


Domestic violence and sexual assault are extremely common, and this policy results in victims getting isolated since their attackers can use FB to locate and pursue them.


In addition to these sorts of serious, immediate dangers, certainly others of us prefer to never use our real name online because it is so uncommon. It's one thing to be Jim Smith, it's another to have a unique name and have your entire online history available to google. I figured this out in the 90s (via dejanews, before google even existed), and have never ever used my real name online since.

Further, I don't understand why some feel the need for me or anyone else to justify this position. It's real simple. I don't use services that try to enforce real ID or sometimes I use a fake name. It's extraordinarily creepy to me that facebook and google can not only determine my real name, but want to force me to use it online.


If I can go to a bar and talk to people without revealing my full (or real) identity, then why can't I do the same online? "Real name policies" don't make any sense to me. The meatspace analogies are all flawed. The pretty server at the bakery doesn't know my name, and she doesn't need to. We can be perfectly civil to one another without crossing that boundary.


You can't behave badly in meatspace and expect to maintain anonymity either.

Say for example if you cause damage? You might be arrested, ordered to provide compensation etc.?


Depends on how badly I behave. It's perfectly well within my rights to call anyone in the bar a cunt. Some might be offended. There might be an argument. I might be asked to leave. There might even be fisticuffs. But at no point during any of that will my real identity matter an iota.


But if you were able to come back into the bar in a disguise a minute later, they would want to know your real identity to prevent you from coming back.


And that's the same both on and offline.

Sure you can behave badly to a point and there's nothing anybody can really do.

But there's a line you can cross after which... it's not your choice...


The real irony of these threads on HN: no one has ever run a social network. If they did, they would realize that mixing pseudonyms with real names is a formula for disaster. It’s probably the easiest way to continuously bother someone and troll groups to no end.


HN mixes the two in the sense that people name themselves what they want. While that certainly causes us no end of headaches, it also has value. The value is subtler while the drawbacks are obvious, but IMO it's well worth it in HN's case.


Well, the entire reason we kept saying "NEVER PUT YOUR REAL INFO ONLINE" is specifically so that real-life problems can't follow you online. Because it used to be an inherently different world.

Now that the two have merged irrevocably, I'll concede that you need to reconcile the ability to reach anyone anywhere at any time, with almost no reprecussion, with the fact that people are dicks.

I think there might be value in the reverse though. An online community that actively prevents people from posting personal details. E.g. you enter your real-life details, and you're prevented from revealing them to someone, and people can't post addresses, real names, etc. You can make as many accounts as you want, but they're all tied to a specific real identity, so if you start harassing someone, you can be blocked and you can't make a real new account. An effort to have your cake and eat it too - keep what made online communities great (anonymous communication and the ability to discuss things of any nature with consenting partners, without jeopardising your real life), while avoiding the problems that trolls bring.


There's also the protection against your online problems following you off.

Cuts both ways.


No one on HN has ever run a social network? I think you're talking to the wrong demographic here.

I used to run an online community in the late 90s early 2000s which would now be called a social network. Some people used real names, some people used pseudonyms, and some people used both. There was no "disaster".


Seriously. Twitter gets crucified for a lack of accountability, now Facebook gets criticized for having too much. You can't embrace online anonymity only when it benefits you.


Accountability and de-anonymisation (which with enough information turns into "doxxing") are not the same thing.

For twitter, people don't need to know who the persistent abusers are on their government ID, only that there are rules and they will be effectively banned if the rules are broken. De-anonymisation enables random mobs to apply "accountability" through death threats offline. For some people this is a serious risk.

(Or in CS101: authentication and authorisation are not the same thing)


Is authorization generally possible without authentication?


I suppose it could be in a capability-based security scheme. In such a scheme, authorization is based upon tokens that are passed around and could be owned by any user or process, making authorization separate from identification.


Yes.


"You can't embrace" X " only when it benefits you."

Welcome to the human race! You are probably not going to enjoy the orientation period.


I don't see why it's confusing.

Bob can have whatever name they want. They don't get to threaten to rape and murder another user.


So what do you do with Bob when he re-registers as Dave?


You allow people to block anyone with account younger them a year. And in general, you allow people to mute everyone from purple they did not approved, mute threads etc.


How does one prevent the use of real names among pseudonyms, pray tell? Pseudonyms, after all, are fiction by design.


Generate a user name for the user. One can do that such that the probability of the generated name matching that of the user essentially zero. For example, a SHA-256 hash, hex printed, is highly unlikely to match a real name, and even if it does, it likely has a less than a billion chance of being the name of the person you give it to.

If you limit yourself to three-part 'normal' names, there may be some matches, but if everybody knows user names are doled out randomly, I don't think that matters.

For the Facebooks of the world, I doubt using pseudonyms matters, though, as they will soon discover who's behind each pseudonym, even if a third party assigned them, if only because your alias will be in the address book of your friends.


Facebook is a friend only social network in practice although, so it's easier to regulate


This is my real name. Well, after an easy google search.


There is a funny anecdote about this.

A friend of mine has "Bastardo" as her real last name. Facebook didn't let her use it, so she was actually forced, by Facebook, to use a fake name.


A clbuttic mistake. I hope they manage to resolve it. It's not like people don't have weird names. E.g. Semen is a popular Russian name with an unfortunate latinisation - the original is spelled Семён, but the umlaut is not always written, since it's clear from context, and the pronunciation is Simyon.


Despite the assurances from Facebook, I've seen no evidence that these policies help anything, and plenty of evidence that they cause problems. Here are a few things that Facebook could answer that might help clear this up:

1. What specific kinds of abuses are primarily due to someone's name, and what percentage of total abuses do they constitute?

2. What criteria does Facebook use to determine if a name is "real"?

3. Under what authority can Facebook compel government issued identification to release suspensions on accounts that are "under review"?

There are many more things that need to be answered, but having data points to answer those questions would be a fantastic start.


Facebook can ask for identification under the same authority that you can ask to see someone's identification before letting them into your house.


The difference is that I'm not retaining any data when I do this, which opens the door to questions about data use and data retention. I've seen no statements from Facebook about how the data is used, how it is stored, and how long it is retained.

Another difference is that Facebook suspends you when you are already using Facebook. The analogy would be more apt if you let someone into your house, they hung out for a few hours, and then you physically remove them, and don't let them back in unless they show you an ID.


> I've seen no statements from Facebook about how the data is used, how it is stored, and how long it is retained.

https://www.facebook.com/help/1723057061256937


Oh wow, thanks. This must be new, I hadn't seen it before.


> The difference is that I'm not retaining any data when I do this

But if your guests knew you were retaining their data, and still chose to go in your house and give you their ID, it would be perfectly fine to retain their data.

> The analogy would be more apt if you let someone into your house, they hung out for a few hours, and then you physically remove them, and don't let them back in unless they show you an ID

What's wrong with that?


Do you agree that you would have the authority to ask to take a picture of someone's identification before allowing them into your house?


Do you agree that a web service is not a private residence?

A coffe shop, a supermarket, a bookstore, etc. doesn't have right to check your ID.

Heck, from what I know, in the US even the police cannot ask you for an id without "reasonable suspicion" that you did something illegal.


>Do you agree that a web service is not a private residence?

For all purpose and effect, it equals a private residence. After all the web service is run by somebody on servers that somebody either owns or pays for.

If I don't want you on my web service I have every right in the world not to let you in/use it because you have no right to demand usage of my private property (servers).

>A coffe shop, a supermarket, a bookstore, etc. doesn't have right to check your ID.

While I'm not 100% sure about the legal situation in the US, I'm pretty sure regular householder's rights apply.

They have the right demand all kinds of things before allowing you on their private premises and you have the right to say "Nah" and not enter their private premises as a result of that, their club, their rules.

>Heck, from what I know, in the US even the police cannot ask you for an id without "reasonable suspicion" that you did something illegal.

In theory, the same was true for German police until... you guess it: 9/11 and the big push for the "war on terror" happened. Since then many countries have adopted additional legislation to allow police more "freedom" with ID checks.

Germany adopted this by declaring certain zones as "higher risk", like near government buildings, public transportation hubs and so on. Police can demand ID from pretty much anybody in a certain radius to such zones, this process is then called "verdachtsunabhänge Personenkontrolle" which loosely translates to "identity check regardless of suspicion".

I'm pretty sure the US has adopted similar legislation, just like the US (supposedly the country of the freest of free speech) adopted the usage of "Free speech zones".


> While I'm not 100% sure about the legal situation in the US, I'm pretty sure regular householder's rights apply.

Not sure about that. Some places (like malls or train stations, possibly others) are considered public places to some extent.


But isn't the mall privately owned? At least the shops inside would be. Do different rules apply to them compared to private homes? Afaik the sovereignty of one's own home is held in very high regard in the US, why doesn't the same apply to a private business?

Train stations, as part of the public infrastructure, are probably held to a different standard. Locking somebody out from those would present quite a constraint to that individual, so that's probably for the better.


I don't think that is true... Costco requires a membership to shop there, and bars require ID checks to enter.


Certainly any place that is member only does. As is any place with a minimum age requirement whether or not that minimum age is required by law. Workplaces of course check and record visitor idea all the time. Not sure why a bookstore would be different although it seems silly in the general case.


I've had people ask to see my ID to verify my identity when using a credit card at several stores. When I buy cough medicine or alcohol, the cashier will not only ask to see my ID but will scan it and store it in a database.


Those are exceptions, since for the first you always have the option to pay cash (and not show id), and for the latter it's required for proof-of-age to buy an age-restricted substance.


I have to show ID every time I buy anything at Costco, regardless of whether I pay cash. I'd also note that Facebook is an age-restricted product.


>I'd also note that Facebook is an age-restricted product.

Only by their policy -- whereas for alcohol it's the law.


That policy exists because of EU and US data protection laws for children under the age of 13. Facebook cannot legally allow them on their website without significantly changing the way their data is handled and requiring parental consent.

Facebook most likely doesn't mind the current state of affairs where preteens lie about their age (hook 'em early), but they do not officially condone it.


They do it because of COPPA, which is a law.


Do you agree that the person I ask has the right to know why I am asking for the ID, why I'm taking the photo, and what I plan to do with it?


You're free to ask Facebook that before providing your identification.


I think you don't have that authority over here in Europe. I'll have to read our law for the protection of personal data again, but I know for a fact employers can't just ask to see your ID (to make sure you're who you say you are on your CV, etc.) without first showing you a document verifying that the way they store that data is in-line with said law. Pretty much the only ones who can see your ID without showing proof that they've been audited for their use of it, are the Police.


If the law describes what you have to do to legally ask to see someone's ID, doesn't that imply that you can legally ask to see someone's ID as long as you comply with the requirements?


Employers are usually required by law to inspect your ID upon hiring you. There is no requirement to show any proof of audit. This is certainly the case in the Netherlands.


i think facebook is more like public space. more like a club then a private home.


Clubs aren't public spaces. Clubs often require ID before they'll let you in.


I would be fine with whatever policy they like, if they stayed in their own walled garden. But building what amounts to a commercial intelligence/surveillance firm that is very difficult to avoid is, yes, evil.

And the true names policy is a big part of that.


"Naive, dangerous and evil" is a good description of most things involving Fb and its founder (maybe not Naive in the latter case)


FB seems like an example of how a team can go from accidentally naive to intentionally naive because it has advantages for engineering or revenue. :(


I'm pretty sure all naiveté is accidental. There's a word for intentional naiveté: manipulation.


I understand the concept of a click bait headline, but "inherently evil" is a bit strong for a service that is completely optional.


"Do not use the Internet. Do not use phones. Do not use bank accounts. Do not travel by plane. Do not enter public spaces. Do not show your face.

Otherwise you accept our Terms of Service.

Thank you for trusting us."

(C) QuantumRoar, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12958035


Exactly, the inherent problem is the creation of shadow profiles of non Facebook users. The most annoying part is the fact that they can make your friends snitch on you, just in case you're not using your real name


And they'll steal your phone number from your friends' phones and add it your account without your knowledge. Every once in a while I log in to FB and it will ask me if I want to share my phone number with them, with my number conveniently pre-entered in the input field. I never gave them my number.


Still use all those things to your heart's content; just don't create a Facebook account...


You don't need to! Facebook will create one for you. It's called a "shadow profile", and as far as I'm aware, there is no way to opt out, prevent it occurring, or even discover what information about you - true or otherwise - is retained under this rubric.


Actually they are likely to be illegal in the EU (http://www.europe-v-facebook.org/Compalint_02_Shadow_Profile...), and you can request your profile using ordinary EU data protection laws.


When 99% of your friends use Facebook, it becomes very hard to avoid it [0]. If you want to advertise your new book among them, what would you do, for example?

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect


Send them an email? Call them? Send them a postcard? Send a text message?


Through one of the many other sites those friends probably use. Facebook probably isn't the only thing on the internet you and your circle of friends have in common.


Yes, but the other sites/services they use are also all pretty much similar walled gardens. It's becoming rarer and rarer these days for ordinary web users to have their own domain and site, or meet upon a completely unrestricted communications medium, like the Usenet of old.



Technically optional, but as it encloses the common forum, decreasingly so.


Is there some reason I'm not aware of that makes "leaving Facebook" not the reasonable, default, option? If they REALLY are "naive, dangerous, and evil", just... don't use their service. Hit them where it hurts and take your eyeballs elsewhere.


For many people, not being on Facebook is neither a choice nor an option because their social network - the ones they depend on - are all there and nowhere else (except probably WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook and where the contact metadata is shared between the two).

In my opinion, only some privileged people are able to really have this choice and act on it. The rest don't know (not privileged enough to know/understand) or don't care (because their social network is already on Facebook).


It's a 'privilege' to not be on Facebook? On Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs, nowhere is there any mention of 'online services' or 'Facebook access', or even 'Internet access'. If ever there was a textbook "Sh*t HN Says" comment worthy of the moniker, yours is it.

Facebook is a business, just like your local grocer, just like any number of restaurants, just like a bookstore. If any of the above aren't giving you the service you desire, you are welcome to pack up and take your custom elsewhere. Rinse and repeat this pattern enough times, and the 'giant' will either go out of business or change their behavior as to woo you back. That's commerce. If your friends will only ever interact with you on Facebook (or any single online service), my suspicion is that they aren't really your friends and it's time to find some new ones.


Not friends. Networking. Let me give you a concrete example. My wife is an animal rescuer and she coordinates her activities with the rest of about a few dozen rescuers in this city, and thousands across the country, almost completely on Facebook, or ocassionally on Whatsapp. It is realtime, convenient, real name based and privacy settings exist to block trolls and nuisances.

Now what do you suggest she use for her communications? Plain old telephone? Or email lists? Neither are anywhere near the convenience of Facebook. And these are all non-tech folk, so suggesting they host their own BBS or some such option is a total nonstarter.

The point is, millions of people across the world use Facebook for similar use cases. Yes, they could ALL take the time and effort to learn some tech and migrate to another platform. But that's like asking the majority of Earth's people to become self-sustaining permaculturists. It's very unlikely to happen.


All I can say in response to your comment is that you display both naivety and ignorance about how the world works. You could start learning more about people and network effects to make better arguments.


You might want to educate yourself on concepts called monopolies and network effects before you make yourself look even more clueless.

Also, ever noticed how Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs also doesn't mention electricity or gasoline? You are kindof at the wrong level of abstraction there.


Facebook is not a monopoly. I'd rather make the argument that Microsoft, today in 2017, is a monopoly (protip: they arent) than try to argue that Facebook is one.


[flagged]


Personal attacks are not allowed on HN and will get your account banned. You broke the site guidelines repeatedly in this thread. Please don't do that again.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


As a counterpoint, this:

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2017/06/sex-offenders-ca...

Social media allows users to gain access to information and communicate with one another about it on any subject that might come to mind... By prohibiting sex offenders from using those websites, North Carolina with one broad stroke bars access to what, for many, are the principal sources for knowing current events, checking ads for employment, speaking and listening in the modern public square, and otherwise exploring the vast realms of human thought and knowledge. These websites can provide perhaps the most powerful mechanisms available to a private citizen to make his or her voice heard.

That's from the decision itself.


You can't leave facebook. They will never delete your data, even if you ask them nicely.


My dog never had any trouble from the Facebook representatives. But then, he did use his real name....


Im pretty critical of aspects of fb, but it's hard to take this blog seriously. The same author has a recent post ( http://theartificialintelligenceblog.com/being-overheard/ ) referencing the terrible WhatsApp guardian article written in January, something declared as false journalism by several researchers: http://technosociology.org/?page_id=1687


I can't blame you, I don't even take myself seriously. But going back to the point, is anything in my article inaccurate – as far as you know? The being overheard thingy isn't scientific research, one would reckon. Do we agree that trying to inform and empower people is a sensible way to progress? I could argue that our blog is probably doing better than FB and the philanthropist Zuckerberg.

Going back to WhatsApp, some of the aspects of its encryption layer are still unclear, to quote your link:

"The threat is remote, quite limited in scope, applicability (requiring a server or phone number compromise) and stealthiness (users who have the setting enabled still see a warning–even if after the fact). The fact that warnings exist means that such attacks would almost certainly be quickly detected by security-aware users. This limits this method."

This paragraph alone, when put in context, would at least ring a bell and make you question the security and encrypted statement. Especially when it's coming from one of Zuckerberg subsidiaries.


If I read your comment in a different way, I might take it as saying that we should never ever trust anyone who's ever made a mistake (or someone who trusted someone who's made a mistake). I don't think our world can function at all if everyone adopts the same thinking without adequate reflection on content vs. the person/messenger. Of course, there is value in questioning the credibility of a source of information over a period of time when multiple issues have surfaced. But judging an entire blog based on one single post and dismissing that? It neither seems fair nor useful to me.


> The web was originally invented and gifted to humanity to promote individual freedoms and knowledge.

Thank you. This is indeed what web was all about, until the suits showed up to make money!


I was already really unhappy with their real name policy (to the point of deleting my account and not going back), but recent incidents - like the policy resulting in moderators' profiles & names getting exposed to terrorists) - just blow my mind. Such a broad impact from a policy that may have no real upsides.

I hope recent events lead them to reconsider this policy but at this point it seems like they never will.


Of course. It's money. Or does anybody thinks that $40 per IPO on user just happens?

It's real money to state you advertise to targeted audience by names, jobs and all that.

It will never change because FB likes money more than it cares about its users being harassed.


"In practice, the forced revelation of information makes individual privilege and power more important. When everyone has to play with their cards on the table, so to speak, then people who feel like they can be themselves without consequence do so freely -- these generally being people with support groups of like-minded people, and who are neither economically nor physically vulnerable. People who are more vulnerable to consequences use concealment as a method of protection: it makes it possible to speak freely about controversial subjects, or even about any subjects, without fear of harassment."

Yonatan Zunger, former chief architect of Google+, writing after thevservice had rescinded its Real Names policy.

https://plus.google.com/+YonatanZunger/posts/WegYVNkZQqq


By requiring real names, Facebook is trying to combat the sort of social discord that occurs on sites like Reddit where people routinely abandon identities, or create throwaway identities to participate in specific fora.

Imagine if car license plates had our name and home address on them, would we be as likely to commit road rage, pick our noses, double park, etc.

Facebook sees itself as a commons first, and the product vision seems to be to incorporate as many of the kinds of constraints common in meatspace to nudge specific kinds of behaviors and discourage others.

Recall in its origin the biggest difference between Facebook and Myspace was Facebook's calming blue, un-customizable color scheme. Blue is commonly used in police uniforms and hospital scrubs.

Facebook also reinvented the feed, moving very early on to an algorithmic feed when competitors were still under the impression that people just wanted to see all updates from all friends. Facebook very quickly understood that the right algorithm can turn a boring feed into engagement dopamine.

Consider that unlike a purely online forum, posts on Facebook are much more likely connected to people we met first in real life where our status is already well-established. Nonetheless people use Facebook to signal activities, pictures or beliefs that they feel will increase their status.

When normal meatspace dynamics matter so much to a site's content, allowing fake names pretty much breaks voyeurism, which is a feature, not a bug.

It is precisely the dark pattern of being able to look up anyone on Facebook and peer into their life that creates Facebook's opportunity to arbitrage between the feeling that what we are posting is mundane, yet it being far from mundane when assembled by Facebook into a complete dossier for anyone who wishes to look us up.

But these are side-effects. My interpretation of this is that Zuck has a strong conviction that meatspace and online life should fully merge. I think he believes this as part of the same utopian conviction that led him to envision Facebook as a "social utility", and I think the same one that is leading him on a path to holding public office.

In his ideal world, politicians would not be two-faced, and internet users would not have multiple avatars and identities to flippantly switch between to avoid facing up to reality or to explore a part of themselves that they do not put on display for all to see.

I think the question Zuck must also ask himself in his moments of reflection is "How can Facebook truly do good?". The good that needs to be done in the world needs to be done by (and for) real people, not screen names and throwaways. Thus as building blocks of that utopian edifice, we must all bear the weight of social responsibility that goes with our actual name being attached to everything we do.


> Imagine if car license plates had our name and home address on them

Dunno about where you live, but in the UK the registration authority maps license plates to registered owners addresses, and you can ask them to look it up for you: https://www.gov.uk/request-information-from-dvla

The UK of course still has road rage and double parking.

WRT online abuse and "hate preaching", some of the most insidious stuff is done in public by people proudly using their own names. Like Katie "Final Solution" Hopkins.


> WRT online abuse and "hate preaching", some of the most insidious stuff is done in public by people proudly using their own names. Like Katie "Final Solution" Hopkins.

This. Also, if you look at the Facebook comments for a post or article anywhere online, you'll also realise how many people simply don't care if their real name is tied to their trolling/hate.

The percentage of people who only bully/attack others under anonymity is likely far lower than people expect it to be.


I can confirm this from my own experience too. Merely requiring real names does nothing to stop hate & trolling because people create throwaway accounts with real names (which are however not their real name) and troll. And there is no way FB can verify if these are the actual names of the operating user without requiring some ID or meatspace verification. And that can be faked too.

Although yes, the barrier for misbehaving becomes bigger and bigger as we move from a scale of total and easy anonymity towards something tied to real life identity as much as your passport or bank account is.


I'd like to humourously point out that your last sentence and your HN handle sort of contradict each other. :-)


I think in this case the sarcasm tag is implied.


Adding to that, allowing pseudonyms enables people to commit such heinous crimes as Hate Speech, Blasphemy, or even Promoting Homosexuality.

Can you imagine a world where those Godless Nazifaggots go unpunished?


If we had some valuable online identity that persisted across multiple sites with a reputation attached that mattered, it wouldn't need to be linked with real identity to make people care enough about it not to soil it.


1. You don't have to use Facebook. You really, really don't.

2. Facebook is under no obligation to provide societal benefits for you. It doesn't even have a moral duty to act upon your complaints. Why? See 1. It's not a government program, you are not forced to use it, you are not even buying anything from it. You are just complaining about free stuff. So. Seriously. Just stop using it.

PS. I'm not defending Facebook here. Facebook is objectively abhorrent. I'm just stating facts. They best way to fight Facebook is to stop using it.


In Europe there is a mindset that companies can become so big that you can not avoid them anymore. Nobody forces you to use Google or Facebook, but you are put at a disadvantage if you do not use them.

Facebook is not free. You trade your data for usage.


Google? Maybe. Facebook? I would argue that using Facebook is a net negative and you're at an advantage if you ditch it.


For uk students Facebook is almost a requirement of the social life. Few people have other contact lists, if you aren't on Facebook you can't be contacted. Event invitation is done through Facebook - the event is rarely advertised elsewhere nor is it a deliberate topic conversation.

The few people I knew who didn't use Facebook at uni ended up using it through others whether they are were willing to admit it or not.


I live at a University in California where I am part-time faculty, and if you don't use Facebook you are essentially screwed: even local government ends up using Facebook as its primary means of disseminating information as literally no on reading uses anything but Facebook for events and the web is sadly dead (it only has meaning if linked to from a Facebook post).


>For uk students Facebook is almost a requirement of the social life.

So, are you telling me that students, people at the stage of life when they are most rebellious, and their minds are most flexible, just won't be able to find any replacement for Facebook, if they wanted to?

(◔_◔)


You've taken something that said 'almost' and taken it to the extremes.

> any replacement for Facebook, if they wanted to

That requires organising several thousand people who don't want to to change platform.

Perform whatever gymnastics you want and break all of the rules - that task ain't getting easier.


Facebook is used in different markets in different ways. In Japan for example it is a common medium for corporate communication, much like slack.


I am not so sure. I wanted nothing to do with facebook and they bought WhatsApp.

Should I tell now to all my contacts that they should install another app in order to talk to me?

I suppose it's possible but it's not going to happen.

The fact is that facebook is a monopoly with strong network effects and they work very hard so you can't escape them.


By necessaries I understand not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without. A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessary of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want of which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad conduct.... Under necessaries, therefore, I comprehend not only those things which nature, but those things which the established rules of decency have rendered necessary to the lowest rank of people.

Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

https://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Wealth_of_Nations/Book_...


The second argument hits a snag when a Facebook account is counted as a border credential by the government.


And 'just not entering that country' isn't a solution how?


That's not a solution that absolves Facebook of social or moral responsibility if they are a link in the chain of immigration policy.


Facebook, to my knowledge, didn't ask to be a link in the chain of immigration policy.


You're not wrong, but what point are you making exactly in this thread? You're responding to a thread in which the top-poster argues that we shouldn't complain about a free service, and then the point is made that facebook may effect immigration.

Are you saying that we shouldn't complain because we can just not enter that country? That we should avoid facebook, as well as the countries that ask for facebook credentials when you're entering them? That's definitely the implication I'm getting from your comments.


That's exactly the point I'm trying to make. Nobody owes you anything - not Facebook, not Google, not the coffeeshop down the street. Governments that are not your own owe you less than nothing, if such a thing exists. Don't like the service they provide, or how they do their business? Don't whine about it online and clog up our feeds, just... stop using the service. Behold - instant peace.


> not the coffeeshop down the street

The US had this argument over businesses with "Whites Only" signs and similar, and it was concluded that "just don't go there" is an inadequate response once the problem is large enough.


And if Facebook's policy was "real names for LGBTQFM only", or "real names for gay black Irish jews", I would be right there on the front lines with you in my outrage. Don't mess with the protected classes. But that's not the situation we have here. The situation is, "real names for everyone, regardless of race, color, creed, nationality", yada yada yada. Regardless of how poorly they're implementing it, that's their policy. Don't like it, don't go there.


A ""real names"" policy often ends up being highly discriminatory against trans people, and people with ""weird"" non-western names.


That's what I thought, thanks for clarifying.


My pleasure, happy to help. Thanks for keeping it civil ;-)


> You are just complaining about free stuff.

That's bullshit. Just because an exchange isn't for money, doesn't mean you are getting things for free.


If the transaction is no longer worth it to you, you are free to walk away from said transaction.


Which is relevant to the question of whether it's free how?


Quora has among the more civilized discussions due to its real name policy.


As has HN which does not have a real name policy. We're in unproven territory, I think.


Without real names, Facebook would be as junky as Myspace was.


Here's just two examples as to why online anonymity is so critical, there's cases like this every single day. You might think, so what? You're free to keep on thinking that right up until you're the one going to jail for criticising your boss. http://www.eutimes.net/2016/12/facebook-bans-german-woman-fo... http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/thailand-woman-...


Facebook does not represent the end of online anonymity because Facebook is one single site. There is nothing objectionable about one site having a rule to use your real name or not at all, and it is the height of entitlement to claim otherwise. (It's popular, so now they have to do X Y and Z)

Doubly so given how granular the controls are regarding who can see what. Sharing on Facebook is a completely opt-in process, so if you don't want your boss seing your pictures, you have a litany of options, including lists, person-to-person sharing, blocking, and not friending them in the first place.

The problem is that this requires a modicum of effort, and people don't want to have to expend that effort. They want to be able to blast everything out there and just kinda hope that it doesn't get them in trouble. It takes effort to use stuff that's not Facebook.


Being naive means refusing to recognize that most people confuse the internet with facebook. Most true in developing countries, where facebook's plan for universal internet access includes setting facebook as their homepage.


>most people confuse the internet with facebook.

Citation needed.


"Most" is an exaggeration. But it's a ton of people. https://qz.com/333313/milliions-of-facebook-users-have-no-id...


anyone remember Orkut ? One of the reasons why I quit Orkut was because they didn't care about real names. so people started using weird characters and unicodes instead of their real name. This won't be a problem when you're not friends with them but once you're friends with them and your friend changes their name to some weird characters, you don't know who you're talking to. I hated that.

I think the article is looking at an extreme scenario and calling the policy naive. This case wouldn't matter to people in the developed nations (and most developing countries as well).


How the fuck does stability of names require that it's from your government ID?

How about you simply allow users to put labels on their contacts to identify them for themselves? No need to introduce a police state in order to keep you unconfused.


One could have solved that problem by bringing consistency with ranking - or some other form of instituting consistency. The key is to let the person adopt whatever pseudo-name he/she wants, but have it go with a consistent and single form identity (avatar or any other form which stays consistent).

The forcing of real names has been a ridiculous idea. It solves one problem but causes many other.


A trivial way to mitigate this is to allow users to create psuedonyms, but not the ability to change them after they've been created, except to create another account. Most people won't bother.


I don't know why there are special rules for popular websites. If there was some building in town where you had to show ID to get in and participate in whatever activity was going on, imagine when the ankle biters showed up and announced that it was 'dangerous and evil' to require people to have to use their real identity to come inside the building.

If you have some reason to not go on facebook, don't go on facebook. There is basically nothing worthwhile there anyway, you aren't being personally attacked because they want to run their community the way they think is best.




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