“I don’t know if the balance has swung too far, but I definitely think we’re at the point where we don’t need to keep on only doing real-identity things. If you’re always under the pressure of real identity, I think that is somewhat of a burden.”
— Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, who once said “having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.” But now Zuckerberg tells Bloomberg Businessweek that some of the apps its new Creative Labs is working on won’t require users to log in with their Facebook accounts. Many of us, of course, have become used (or resigned) to the fact that many apps and websites insist on Facebook logins as part of Facebook Connect, which the company rolled out in 2008 to “embed Facebook into the very fabric of the Internet,” as “The Facebook Effect” author David Kirkpatrick put it. Those logins are, for the most part, tied to our real names and identities.
The real-names strategy has strengthened Facebook’s hold on the Internet, and it’s one that Google has notably adopted for its many different services. Yet, as proponents of online anonymity might cite, Twitter and Facebook-owned Instagram have thrived without requiring users to use their real names.
Could Zuckerberg’s evolving thinking on real identity on the Internet bring about the end of ubiquitous Facebook login requirements? The Businessweek article mentions that there’s been much internal debate about identity and anonymity at the Menlo Park company. But Zuckerberg’s quote above is telling; he just wants to ease “the pressure of real identity.” For now, though: Paper, the Creative Labs-produced news-reading app the company announced today, still requires a Facebook login.