What's in a Name - Facebook's Real Name Policy and User Privacy

27 Pages Posted: 28 Feb 2019

Date Written: August 11, 2018


There have been growing concerns about the danger of a surveillance society that is facilitated by social media, in which individuals voluntarily surrender their data to service providers. Amongst the major social media services, Facebook stands out not only because of its market share but also because of its insistence on a strong real name policy. Subscribers must sign up with their real name as their username on the platform. Due to this policy, Facebook users have more reasons to worry about government and corporate surveillance. Facebook’s subscribers have protested against its real name policy. Yet Facebook’s position on demanding real names remains firm. The track record of Facebook’s privacy practice is problematic, although they repeatedly assert that users have control of their data, including how much Facebook uses the users’ data they collected for targeted advertising. This paper argues that users lose much of their control so long as Facebook continues to insist on its real name policy, because there is already so much information about us in our names. This paper addresses why Facebook should reconsider their position and allow pseudonymous usernames, and discusses the potential legal grounds to challenge Facebook’s real name policy under EU GDPR’s new regulatory regime.

Keywords: Privacy, Social Media, Facebook, Real Name Policy, GDPR

Suggested Citation

Chen, Shun-Ling, What's in a Name - Facebook's Real Name Policy and User Privacy (August 11, 2018). Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, Vol. 28, No. 1, 2018, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3332188 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3332188

Shun-Ling Chen (Contact Author)

Institutum Iurisprudentiae ( email )

128 Academia Sinica Rd., Sec. 2
Taipei City, 11529

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