German data protection agency orders Facebook to let people use fake names


Facebook doesn’t like fake accounts — they’ve even gone as far as deleting them to clean up the top social site. With that said, it’s not really a surprise that Facebook also requires users to use their real names on their accounts. Germany, however, has a law that gives people the right to use pseudonyms online and now a data protection agency in Schleswig-Holstein has issued a decree demanding that Facebook allow people to use fake names immediately.

In a statement, Thilo Weichert, who is head of the data protection office says, “It is unacceptable that a US portal like Facebook violates German data protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end.” He argues that using a pseudonym on the social network is “reasonable” and would allow people to use it “without fear of unpleasant consequences.” He also adds that Facebook’s current policy hasn’t stopped problems such as people throwing insults and identity theft.

Facebook says that it would fight against the decree “vigorously” and that its current policies are in line with current European data protection laws. If the decree is successful, however, it could potentially be adopted by the nation’s other data protection agencies.

Do you think Facebook should allow people to use pseudonyms on its site? Let us know in the comments!

[via BBC, image via West McGowan]

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  • Shava Nerad

    As a major face of the G+ #nymwars, and former execdir of the Tor Project, you can guess my opinion.

    Good for the Germans for wedging this open!

  • thegreenwizard

    Give what a computer want: two words:

    nooe boddy


    And FB would be happy. But the best is to avoid it totally.

  • Seamus McSeamus

    I do have a FB account that I created a few months ago… there was a software giveaway that required liking the company on FB, so I signed up. I have used it a couple times since then for the same purpose, and it is under a pseudonym with no personal info attached.So, yes, I think Facebook should allow pseudonymous accounts. :)

  • I’m living and working in China (yes, my VPN still going strong — only certain VPN routes were disabled, not all), and do use Facebook, BUT I only use my real first name, and don’t use my real last name, and I lock up whatever privacy measures there are quite tightly. Thus I can basically put a lot of info (but still avoid obvious security issues like real date of birth etc), that will enable ONLY those people I invite to join my FB to keep in touch with me, despite my fake surname they do know who I am. This works perfectly, as it will be impossible for anyone I don’t invite, to find me on FB, therefore I can keep in touch with, or just follow my friends’ profiles without sacrificing privacy.

  • kelltic

    Agghhhhhh. Facebook.

    Pseudonym or nothing. Better nothing.

  • pseudonym

    facebook sucks. nuff said.

  • AFPhys

    I don’t know about anyone else, but I use fake names on Facebook. I have three of them, though I very seldom use any of them at all, and I NEVER put anything personally identified to me on that site.

  • GF

    > Do you think Facebook should allow people to use pseudonyms on its site?

    Yes yes yes!

    Using Facebook we are (theorically) forced to use our real name, but in this way many people lost their freedom of speech. In fact many people would strongly like to reveal personal troubles, to vent their problems, to share and to discuss them with other users, but they can’t do it as they are ashamed to make public those personal matters.
    That’s why I strongly wish Facebook allowed the use of a pseudonym, so everyone could freely reveal his/her personal troubles without the shame to be identified.