Facebook & Names

Jo Yardley had an article up a day or two ago about the fight between Facebook and Germany. It seems Germany has some law that prevents Facebook from requiring identification as it violates German privacy laws.

Germany fights Facebook thus perhaps paving the way for using pseudonyms



Today we hear Facebook has decided to allow German users to use anonymous names/pseudonyms  . But, only Germans and ONLY residents of Hamburg.  It is no surprise to me Facebook complied but only allow pseudonyms in this very limited area.

German privacy laws put Facebook in a bind. They either complied or kicked out their Hamburg Germany users.  There are 80± million Germans and something less than 2 million live in Hamburg, so while that is a lot of advertizing eyes it isn’t much of Facebook’s user base.

See: Germans allowed to use Fake Names on Facebook, while everyone else CANNOT.

Expect Facebook to come up with some way to limit new signups from Germany that cannot provide RL ID. While Facebook can’t kick someone out for using a pseudonym there is nothing that says they have to let someone in that uses a pseudonym. So, expect a change in Facebook’s signup process.

4 thoughts on “Facebook & Names

  1. The reason, I assume, the ruling applies only to residents of Hamburg is that Germany is a federal republic, like the USA, and Hamburg is not only Germany’s second largest city but also a state in its own right.

    As far as I can make out from The article in The Guardian\ on which Jo bases her story, the law that’s being applied is a national one, and the reason the Hamburg data protection authority is involved must be that it was a resident of Hamburg who complained.

    However, that strongly suggests residents of the other German Länder are likely to see similar results if they complain locally about Facebook’s policy.

    The ruling is also significant because it says Facebook cannot lawfully insist on seeing official ID, such as passports or ID cards, from German citizens.

      • I’m sure they’ll try, but I don’t expect either the German government or the German courts to be too impressed — having had recent experience of the Stasi, the Germans take privacy a lot more seriously than it’s taken in the UK, where I live, and infinitely more seriously than it’s taken in the USA.

        Eventually, I think, Facebook will have to choose between changing their policy, at least for Germany, and ceasing to do business there (and probably in several other EU countries too). I suspect Facebook will eventually decide that they need the German market rather more than Germany needs Facebook.

        • You may be right. But, Facebook’s income is from getting RL information. Without it those users are a cost that fails to generate Facebook’s primary income.

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