Facebook is testing changes to its controversial "real name" policy after criticism from transgender, Native American and other Facebook users who use names on the social network that they were not born with.
Two changes are aimed at reducing the number of people asked to verify their name on Facebook who are already using the name they are known by and at making it easier for people to confirm their name, Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations, and Todd Gage, product manager, wrote in a blog post.
Facebook users who flag an account will be required to provide additional information. And Facebook users whose accounts have been flagged will be able to provide more information about their circumstances, such as whether they are victims of abuse, stalking or bullying or if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer.r.
Over the last year, Facebook has made other changes such as giving users seven days to dispute a challenge to their identity and expanding the kinds of documents people can give Facebook to verify their identity.
The changes that are geared particularly to those "who are marginalized or face discrimination" are being tested in the United States on desktop and mobile. Facebook said it would continue to look at ways to make its policy more "compassionate" in 2016.
Facebook's policy of requiring real names, not pseudonyms, is designed to encourage accountability and limit abuse. It came under fire last year from drag queens in San Francisco who campaigned to get Facebook to review its policy because its enforcement subjected certain groups to unfair scrutiny. The #MyNameIs campaign led to some concessions by Facebook for users such as survivors of domestic violence and Native Americans who use tribal names different than those on their driver's licenses.
In October, Facebook received a letter from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and Human Rights Watch, among others, accusing the company of having a system that "disregards the circumstances of users in countries with low levels of internet penetration, exposes its users to danger, disrespects the identities of its users, and curtails free speech."