Facebook stops surveying users about friends' real user names

Published Date
27 - Sep - 2012
| Last Updated
27 - Sep - 2012
Facebook stops surveying users about friends' real user names

Facebook has wrapped up an experiment that called on users to report friends that were using fake names on the Social Networking website. Facebook had recently started conducting a survey to its users that enquired - "Is this your friend's real name?" The social network showed the image of the 'friend' along with the name he/she was using and his/her location. There were four options to respond Yes, No, I don't know this person, and I don't want to answer.

It's notable the actual question posed by Facebook is phrased more delicately: “Please help us understand how people are using Facebook,” it reads. “Your response is anonymous and won’t affect your friend’s account. Is this your friend’s real name?”

Facebook's experimental survey was first reported by an Activist/writer/artist/photojournalist @chapeaudefee, who tweeted the survey snapshot, asked who'll be participating in what one privacy advocate is calling "Snitchgate". Here's the snapshot:

In the meanwhile, Facebook confirmed to TPM that it has been indeed experimenting by surveying users about their Friends' user names for a few months.

“This isn’t so we can go and get that person in trouble,” Facebook’s spokesperson told TPM. “None of our surveys are used for any enforcement action. Basically, what this model does is help better inform us in how to classify different types of accounts. Just because we’re showing a question about a particular user doesn’t mean we suspect them of anything. The user is chosen by a system.”

The Facebook spokesperson pointed out that the survey would help the company achieve a “better understanding” of their ecosystem.

It's worth pointing out Facebook's official name policy here. The policy states: "Facebook is a community where people connect and share using their real identities." The company is evidently striving hard to make its users use their real names on the network.

Last month, Facebook said it was making huge efforts to remove the bogus accounts from its network. The company in its quarterly report admitted that 8.7 percent of the total 950 million active users duplicates, misclassified, or "undesirable." For more, read our previous coverage. Facebook is also working to keep its brand Pages free from 'fake' Likes. The social networking company believes the move will benefit the legitimate users and Page owners.

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