Facebook announces improvements to 'names policy'

Facebook announced today that it will begin testing improvements to its 'names policy,' which requires "people to use the name their friends and family know them by." In a post on the official Facebook newsroom, the world's biggest social media network said the improvements will address two key goals: 

First, we want to reduce the number of people who are asked to verify their name on Facebook when they are already using the name people know them by. Second, we want to make it easier for people to confirm their name if necessary.

The post goes on to outline specific changes that are now being tested, including "a new version of profile reporting that requires people to provide more context" and "a new way for people to describe their special circumstance when verifying their name." These tools are currently being tested on a limited basis in the US only, across mobile and desktop.

Facebook also notes that, in addition to the improvements announced today, it has "made several other changes to our processes to make sure they work for everyone," including expanding the options and documents that users can use to verify their name.

The improvements come following outcry from many people in the LGBT community -- and specifically, many in the transgender and drag performer communities -- whose profiles were suspended because they were not using their "real" names on Facebook. GLAAD worked with Facebook, local activists, and the Network of Support to advocate for and advise on improvements. 

“By taking important steps to improve its name policy, Facebook is once again demonstrating a strong commitment to inclusion and respect for LGBT users,” said GLAAD CEO & President Sarah Kate Ellis. “GLAAD looks forward to our continued work with Facebook to further improve on this policy and ensure that the world’s largest social network remains a place where all people can feel accepted and safe to be their authentic selves.”

Since 2010, GLAAD has worked closely with Facebook to ensure the safety of and improve the experience for LGBT users. In October 2010, Facebook partnered with GLAAD and other national LGBT organizations to create "Network of Support," an educational initiative that works to combat anti-LGBT bullying online. GLAAD also worked with Facebook to reshape the way that the site responds to hateful, anti-LGBT comments posted on public pages. In 2011, GLAAD worked with Facebook to add 'In a domestic partnership' and 'In a civil union' options to users' profiles. And GLAAD worked alongside Facebook to expand users' gender options, making the platform safer and more inclusive of transgender and gender non-conforming users. 

Since 2010, Facebook has participated in GLAAD's annual anti-bullying campaign Spirit Day by 'going purple' on select national pages in a stand against bullying and to show its support for LGBT youth. Facebook became the first social media company to receive a GLAAD Media Award in 2012.