Facebook has issued an apology to the LGBT victims of its “real-name” policy, and has said the company will resolve the problems with its push for identity verification.
Facebook said they now require people to use “the authentic name they use in real life,” following weeks of sustained pressure by gay rights activists.
In a Facebook post on Wednesday, Chief Product Officer Chris Cox said: "I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbours, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we've put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.
Under the old rules, that required users to register with their legal name, hundreds of Facebook accounts were flagged by just a single user, and many were suspended, including that of San Francisco drag queen Sister Roma – legal name Michael Williams.
10 facts you didn’t know about Facebook
10 facts you didn’t know about Facebook
Around 350 million photos are uploaded to Facebook every day, with the site estimating in September last year that users had so far put up more than 250 billion images. That’s 4,000 photos uploaded every second and around 4 per cent of all photos ever taken, according to a study by Nokia.
Facebook’s logo is blue because Mark Zuckerberg is red-green colour blind. “Blue is the richest color for me. I can see all of blue," said Zuckerberg in an interview with the New Yorker. The colour is so popular that Facebook’s campus store even sells nail polish in the exact shade named ‘social butterfly blue’.
Zuckerberg's famously low-key wardrobe (either a grey t-shirt or a hoodie) is so that the CEO saves time deciding what to wear each day. However, Zuckerberg is known to dress up when the occasion demands it. For a 2011 event with Barack Obama he showed up in a suit, with the president introducing himself by saying: “I’m Barack Obama and I’m the guy who got Mark to wear a jacket and tie.”
In July 2006 Zuckerberg turned down a $1 billion offer for the site from Yahoo. He was 22 years old at the time and owned 25 per cent of the company. Zuckerberg reportedly turned it down by saying “I don't know what I could do with the money. I'd just start another social networking site. I kind of like the one I already have.” He definitely made the right choice: Facebook is now valued at $135 billion.
A YouGov poll claimed that three-quarter of UK Facebook users' photos showed someone drinking or inebriated. However, the poll did ask users to estimate the number of boozy snaps themselves, and like all things on Facebook, there might have been an element of exaggeration involved.
Facebook operates a bounty hunter program – for bugs. Like many other big technology companies Facebook offers cash rewards to security researchers who point out flaws in the site’s code. The minimum payout is $500 and the largest prize to date has been $33,500.
More than a third of divorce filings in 2011 referenced Facebook, said a survey from UK-based legal firm Divorce Online. The exact figures may be an estimate, but with just under 8 trillion Facebook messages sent in 2013 it’s certain that a substantial body of evidence is to be found on the social network.
Zuckerberg isn’t much of a Twitter fan. Despite having nearly three hundred thousand followers on the service he’s only tweeted 19 times - once in 2012 and the rest in 2009. Although Facebook dwarfs twitter in terms of active users (1 billion compared with 200 million by some accounts) the micro-blogging site handles breaking news better. Facebook has introduced trending topics and hashtags to counter this.
Following the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009 Iceland decided to rewrite their constitution using Facebook to solicit suggestions from citizens. Unfortunately, despite this forward thinking approach, the document was killed by politicians in mid-2013 for various (mostly technical) reasons.
You can browse Facebook upside down. Facebook currently supports more than 70 different languages – including English (Pirate) and English (Upside Down). Check the bottom of the column on the right of your newsfeed and click your current language to change!
Sister Roma has lead the charge against the “real name” policy, penning an open letter that explained how it disproportionately impacts LGBT communities. That letter was delivered just hours before Facebook made its announcement.
The letter read: “This policy lends itself to abuse; some people are using this tool to target and harass our communities with the intent of erasing our identities.
“Many people need to use a chosen name in order to feel safe or to be able to express their authentic identity online.”
Facebook said it did not realise drag queens and transgendered people were being targeted, because of the vast number of fake name accounts that were being flagged.
More on Facebook: Facebook's name policy angers drag queens
Cox said that the company will continue to develop an authentic name policy to crackdown on imposters, as well as curbing anonymous trolling.
He said: "We see through this event that there's lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who's real and who's not.
"We're already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors."
Google+ abolished its real name policy in June.