Last weekend, we wrote about Ello, a proposed "Facebook-killer". Despite its myriad of lacking features and minimalistic interface, the service has grown incredibly in the past couple of weeks, all thanks to a bad move made by Facebook: Forcing people best-known under an alias to use their real names.
The drag community has been integral in making Facebook take note that forcing a real name is not a great idea. Outside of that community, there are many legitimate reasons why someone might want, or need, to use an alias.
Nonetheless, changes are coming, and I'm sure that's something many will be glad to hear - especially those in the drag community. Chris Cox, Facebook's Chief Product Officer, has taken to his own profile to apologize.
"In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we've had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We've also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we're going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were."
He goes on to say that, "The way this happened took us off guard.", and while you might think that Ello is the reason, he says says otherwise: "An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn't notice the pattern.
As much as I'd love to believe Ello was the cause of this turnaround, it's hard to argue with that. Facebook does in fact deal with a ton of profile- and page-related requests every single day, and when a couple of hundred trickle in, it could be difficult to spot something going on. Even so, after the debacle, Facebook seemed adamant that it wanted to stick to its same-name rule.
Or did it? Chris goes on to say that Facebook's policy has always been to allow people to use their "authentic" real-life name, but that's not necessarily their "real" name. He stats that "Lil Miss Hot Mess" would still be "Lil Miss Hot Mess", but after the all of those requests, it wasn't clear to anyone exactly what the policies were. What does seem true is that Facebook was a wee bit too hasty in taking care of those initial requests.
So, it's hard to say that Facebook is backtracking, but rather setting things straight, and trying to win back the hearts of those who left. Chris finishes, "And we're taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way."
Sounds good to me.