Facebook taking a step toward anonymity (well, with an app)

Facebook is working on a stand-alone mobile app that people can use with a pseudonym, the New York Times reports.

The app, which will likely be for conversations among a small number of people, is expected to be released in coming weeks, the report said. It is unclear if it will be integrated with Facebook’s main site.

The move comes as other social media such as Secret, Whisper and Reddit that allow anonymous conversations have risen in popularity.

In a column last week, I said it was time for Facebook to accept that there is a place for fake names on the service.

The company has long required that people use their real names on their service and asks for some level of proof when users sign up. The company has said that the requirement has helped protect people from spammers, online abuse and so on.

In recent weeks, that policy has been called into question by drag queens, authors and members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community who use pseudonyms. The company had contacted some of them noting that it appeared they were using a fake name and giving them the option of either switching to their “real name” or terminating their accounts.

Facebook’s apologized over the issue and said its real name policy had been misconstrued. It always intended by “real names” that users would use their “authentic name,” which didn’t have to be their legal name. The company said it would update aspects of its policy in the future.

Photo from Reuters archives


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