Don’t give Facebook your ID, and a report showing it as ground zero for abuse

Today is a really happy day in the U.S., and especially here in my hometown San Francisco. People are literally going happy-crazy in the streets — and we expect this to last all weekend long. It’s beyond amazing!

There’s something I want you to read, however, which is LGBT related and is something that I’m trying to raise awareness about. It’s my newest investigative piece for Engadget, Women, LGBT least safe on Facebook, despite ‘real name’ policy.

If you, or anyone you know, has been asked to submit ID to Facebook, please read this. It’s also the first report to show that Facebook is the number one hot spot online for stalking, harassment and abuse — despite its “real names” policy.

For those of us who watched Google evolve during the #Nymwars it’s both terrifying and validating.

The report is from NNEDV, and those at extreme risk (at least 23 million Facebook users) are victims of domestic violence, victims of sexual assault, women, and LGBTQ people.

In it, I interviewed people who have submitted legal ID to Facebook to unlock their accounts after being “flagged” for allegedly using a fake name — and the company used their ID to change their account names without their consent, and locked the account function so they cannot change the name back.

Here’s an excerpt:

Despite Facebook’s insistence that its “real names” policy keeps its users safe, a new report reveals that Facebook is the least safe place for women online. And things are turning more explosive, as stories emerge that Facebook has been changing its users’ names without their consent — and the company isn’t allowing them to remove their real names from their accounts. Meanwhile, a furious LGBT coalition has rallied around the safety threats posed to its communities by the policy. Though, it was unsuccessful in blocking the company from marching in America’s largest gay pride parade.

… The Safety Net Project (at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, NNEDV) recently released a report based on results from victim service providers called A Glimpse From the Field: How Abusers Are Misusing Technology.

The report found that nearly all (99 percent) the responding programs reported that Facebook is the most misused social media platform by abusers.

… When reached for comment about the How Abusers Are Misusing Technology report, a Facebook spokesperson referred us to this Facebook post explaining how the company’s “authentic name” policy “creates a safer community for everyone.”

… However, Facebook didn’t have anything to say to us about reports that the company is changing its users’ names without their consent.

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