Campaign aims to persuade Facebook and Google+ to allow pseudonyms

My Name Is Me: campaigning for policy change

Do you feel your rights are infringed by not being able to sign up to Facebook or Google+ using a pseudonym?

I didn’t know it was an issue, but a group is campaigning to get these social networks to change their registration policies so that people can use whatever identity they choose.

When Facebook began, it launched a new phase of using real identities in social networking. Previously, chatrooms and blogs were largely populated by anonymous handles and nicknames. My Name Is Me wants to let social networkers return to more anonymous identities, if they choose. It is asking that:

online services — including social networks such as Facebook and Google+ — to allow users to identify themselves by whatever name they choose, providing that the name they choose is not, in and of itself, abusive.

It might not seem that big a deal if you go by your real name, but My Name Is Me argues that it is an issue that affects everyone from political dissidents and domestic abuse survivors to celebrities and authors who use pen names. It also says it is a freedom of speech issue, arguing:

Choosing your own name online doesn’t mean you’re a fraud or a spammer. It just means you want people to take you at your word: you are who you say you are.

Using a name of your own choice gives you the freedom to express yourself freely; take better control of your privacy; and be judged by your actions rather than your gender, race, or religion.

Do you agree that it’s a freedom of speech issue? Or is lack of anonymity what makes social networking better than the blogs and chatrooms of older times? If you’d like to support the My Name Is Me campaign, you can follow them on Twitter at MyNameCampaign, where there are numerous suggestions for how you can get involved.

Talking of Twitter, on that social network of course, you can be whoever you like.

  • Charlie Clinton

    While I can understand the argument that people may have valid reasons for wanting to keep their real name secret, I honestly think that that is outweighed by the fact that allowing anonymity really does open the floodgates for spammers and fraudsters…

    Its worth remembering for those who want to stay anonymous but still use FB it is possible to have your privacy settings set so high that no one can find you or see you if you don’t add them first (Just yesterday a friend of mind tagged me in a comment on her brothers wall and I couldn’t even see the comment because of his privacy settings…).

    Hundreds of millions of current users are happy enough using their real name, and I think it would be a shame to potentially ruin Facebook for them, in order to appease the minority wh actually do have other options.

  • Trevor

    Am I missing the point here or something, I’ve got several accounts across several platforms none of which use my real name. Either a work related handle or a nickname I’ve been using across the web since early days. Maybe what would be nice if (and I haven’t tried it yet) Google circles could let you use a different name for different circles.

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