Facebook demands identity. When is enough, enough?

By: Joshua Needham

Just the other day, when trying to access my personal Facebook account, I was met with an interesting message: “Your account has been temporarily suspended because it looks like you’re not using your real name.”
Granted, this message was a long time coming. I created the account specifically so I could manage contact with a few friends that didn’t own cell phones as well as manage a brand page, so I started the account with my nickname “ProxyFox” to prevent old high-school acquaintances, relatives, etc. from finding me. I had no desire to use the platform for its “social” aspects.

With Facebook’s recent additions to the platform – job listings and the marketplace – it makes sense that they would want to crack down on alias accounts to prevent fraud and keep people from hiding behind anonymity when dealing on their platform, so I understand the why behind it all, but it really begs to question: what’s next?

New features have been introduced slowly, over time, so as not to overwhelm the user base, but looking at what Facebook has evolved into can be both inspirational and terrifying, depending on your personal knowledge about your privacy on the internet.

Facebook messenger has the ability to send payments between users, requiring banking information or a credit card. Brand Pages, such as the one I manage have the option of “boosting” a post, or paying money to make sure more people (and often your existing audience, but that’s a whole other issue) see it, which also requires payment information.

When going through the name dispute for my account I had only two options:
1. Keep the name Proxy Fox, which involves uploading a photo of my driver’s licence to prove that the name on my account was my real name.
or
2. Change my name without having to prove my identity.
Honestly, in hindsight, this presented me with an opportunity to become anyone I wanted without question, and I really screwed it up by just using my real name.

It should be known that I, personally, don’t have an issue at this point using my real name. Enough people have found me and connected with me that I just stopped checking the app more than once or twice a week, but it concerns me for what could be introduced next.

If Facebook decides to move from a social network to a more business-centered network, perhaps offering employment through their platform, it could involve requiring your social security number for tax purposes, your home address, work history, etc. Not that these are things you haven’t already provided them with (save for your SSN I hope), but it’s important to know when and where you will personally draw the line.

All of that being said, I’d love to hear your take on things. At what point would you call it enough. Where would you draw the line between “I’m okay with sharing this information” and “I’m deleting my account, this isn’t worth it.”

Let me know in the comments below, or on the Mount Observer’s Facebook page what you think. It’s about time we had a conversation about the future of our personal information and its security.