Facebook is reportedly developing an app that provides its users with anonymity, a source has revealed.
The standalone service, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks, was unveiled to the New York Times by an insider who spoke, coincidentally, on the condition of anonymity.
The social networking site recently came under fire from drag acts and other performers after it rolled out a new ‘real name’ policy that prevented users from operating under pseudonyms.
It was an unexpected fall-out from efforts by the firm to help stem the slew of trolling and online bullying perpetrated by those hiding behind anonymous accounts.
In one case, a San Francisco drag queen who used the name Sister Roma, was forced to change her name back to her real of Michael Williams or see her account suspended.
Facebook privacy settings you should know about
Facebook privacy settings you should know about
1/6 Change who sees your posts.
Anything you post on Facebook - from a status update to a photo - can be given its own privacy setting. 'Public' means that the information can be found via Google, or you can create custom groups of friends (http://ind.pn/1bVJJ2H) to share info with. Remember: whatever setting you last choose will become default until you change it again.
2/6 Check what your friends are sharing about you.
Sometimes it's not you, but your friends that give information away. Follow this link to see the information that your friends might be sharing with third party apps - http://ind.pn/1bVVar6. Click the 'edit' option to the right of 'Apps other use' and un-tick every category of info you don't want to share. There's also an option above labelled 'Apps you use' that lets you select which apps can use your Facebook data elsewhere on the web. Don't trust them? Click the little cross on the right.
3/6 Hide old posts.
If you're keen to make your Facebook past more private, limiting who can see your old posts should be your first step. Follow this link - http://ind.pn/1bVK7hv - and click 'Limit The Audience for Old Posts on Your Timeline'. You can make all of these old photos and stats updates vieweable to the public, friends only, or just yourself. From this page you can also change who can send you messages and friend requests.
4/6 Create friend lists.
Since September 2011 Facebook has let you create different 'lists' of friends in order to let you separate what your close buddies and your work colleagues see. Facebook can give you a head start by suggesting lists based on who you went to school with and where people live - and you can even choose to browse a News Feed populated only by a certain list. Follow the link below for a full guide: http://ind.pn/1bVPu0d
5/6 Limit adverts.
Pages you like will sometimes be used by Facebook to endorse a product to your friends. If you don't wnat these to show up head to this page - http://ind.pn/1j6Mc2b - select "Pair my social actions with adverts for no one" and click Save Changes.
6/6 Check your profile.
If you're still worried about which of your photos or posts are visible to people you can check what the public (or any specific individual) sees when they click on your profile. View your profile by clicking on your namem then click the cog in the bottom right hand corner of your cover photo, then select 'View as...'
More than 36,000 people signed a petition calling on Facebook to take these cases into consideration, particularly because many in the LGBT community felt that it was being used as a weapon by those against them.
“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,” Sister Roma said in a blog post earlier this month.
Facebook’s Chief Product Officer Chris Cox apologised on 1 October for not realising the negative effect the site’s policy would have on some people, that it had caught them “off guard”, and that they were working towards a solution.
He said in a Facebook post that most of the fake name accounts they delete on a weekly basis are “bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more.”
This new app, then, will be a decisive move away from the site’s recent policy changes and will, according to the sources cited, allow people to discuss topics using identities that are not their own – possibly opening up avenues of conversation that would otherwise not happen under real names.
For example it could be useful for health communities, or even perhaps whistleblowing. It is not known how the app would operate in friendship circles nor what it would look like.
Neither is it clear how it hopes to tackle online abuse undertaken through the anonymity app.
This new move could also be in response to the early success of start-up social network Ello and other anonymous apps and sites such as Secret and PostSecret.
A Facebook spokesperson told The Independent: "We have nothing to add on this – we don’t comment on rumour or speculation."Reuse content