Facebook tweaks "real name" policy to be more inclusive

After receiving some criticism over the past year for requiring members to use their "real" names on their profiles, Facebook announced that it has made some tweaks to its name policy.

In a company blog post, Facebook's Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations, and Todd Gage, product manager, explained that Facebook has traditionally required real names because users "need to feel safe and be confident they know who they are communicating with."

"However, after hearing feedback from our community, we recognize that it's also important that this policy works for everyone, especially for communities who are marginalized or face discrimination."

As a result, the company has developed two new tools that will enable users to go by the names they are most comfortable with and that most people know them by.

First, Facebook is requiring users to go through several more steps when reporting the use of a name to the company. In the past, you could simply report that someone was using a "fake name;" now, you would have to provide additional context for why a name is being reported.

Facebook will now ask users to provide more context when reporting a name to the site. Facebook

Facebook has also created a name verification tool that gives a user the chance to explain why he or she goes by a certain name. For instance, if a user has been the victim of domestic abuse or stalking and would like to go by a pseudonym, he or she would be able to say so.

The social networking site came under fire from LGBTQ groups last year when some personal accounts belonging to drag queens and members of the transgender community were removed because they did not use the individual's legal name. The company ended up revising its policies to be more inclusive, clarifying that the naming policy referred to the "authentic name" a user goes by in "real life," rather than strictly his or her legal name.

Through the new tool, there is a category for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer" that a user can select when explaining the reasoning behind the choice of a specific profile name.

Facebook says it plans to continue to make tweaks to its name policy.

"Early in the new year, we will be looking at other ways we can reduce the number of people who have to go through an ID verification experience, while preserving the safety of other people on the site," Osofsky and Gage said. "We will also continue to work on making the experience itself more compassionate and easier to navigate. Throughout this process, we will continue our ongoing conversations with the Facebook community so they can share their thoughts on improvements they'd like to see."

The new tools are being tested on a limited basis in the United States through the social network's mobile and desktop sites.

"We want to create the best experience that we can for everyone, and we will continue to make improvements until everyone can use the name that their friends and family know them by," they added.