Facebook Changes Real Name Policy amid Controversy

February 14, 2016

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. lash out / læʃ aʊt / (phrasal v.) – to attack someone verbally or physically
Example: Activists gathered outside the city hall to lash out against the mayor.

2. controversial / ˌkɒn trəˈvɜr ʃəl / (adj.) – describing something that is talked about, usually in a negative way
Example: Many critics requested for the controversial movie to be banned.

3. outcry / ˈaʊtˌkraɪ / (n.) – an expression of strong disapproval
Example: The company was able to silence the public’s outcry over its faulty service.

4. pseudonym / ˈsud n ɪm / (n.) – a name that is used to replace a real name
Example: Some writers prefer to write under a pseudonym to hide their identity.

5. deterrent / dɪˈtɜr ənt, -ˈtʌr-, -ˈtɛr- / (n.) – something that stops or prevents something
Example: The building’s new security device is a deterrent to theft.


Read the text below.
Facebook is revising their regulations regarding the name that users use on their site, after critics lashed out against the real name policy.

After facing protests, the world’s largest social networking site is finally taking some steps to make changes in its controversial real name policy.

Public outcry came mostly from Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) advocates and victims of domestic violence. After some of their accounts were suspended, they reportedly formed a coalition to speak out against Facebook's real name policy, which requires users to use their legal name. In July last year, an Ethiopian activist who ran online support groups for gay Ethiopians had his accounts banned because he used pseudonyms.
In December 2015, Facebook announced that it will be testing new tools that will add extra checks for reports about fake names and allow users to share more details about reasons why they cannot use their real names in their accounts.

Early last year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the policy, saying it is a deterrent to cyberbullying. However, they listened to feedback from concerned parties to negotiate possible solutions.

Attorney David Campos, the lead negotiator for users wanting Facebook to fix their real name policy, said that the talks between Facebook and the protesters have been extremely productive. According to him, both parties agreed that the policy’s objective is for people to use their real names, which does not always entail legal identity.

In a statement issued in September 2015, Campos said that revealing the names of some LGBT users such as drag queens and transgender people can result in stalking, violations of privacy, and violence.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         If you were the owner of Facebook, would you also be strict with the implementation of the real name policy? Why or why not?
·         Aside from the people mentioned in the article, who else do you think need pseudonyms on social networking sites?

Discussion B

·         How can cyberbullying be prevented?
·         What can people do to protect their personal information when doing activities online? Give examples.

February 14, 2016