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Thursday, February 19, 2015


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Kitty Revolver

I LOVE Sister Roma! This is great!

Arcadia Codesmith

It's great she's stepping up, but the Facebook policy hasn't changed. It's always been possible to get an account under your stage or pen name if you're a performer/artist. If you're somebody, you get past the velvet rope. If you're nobody, so sad, too bad.

And Facebook totally ignores the fact that few people have a single fixed identity with a single fixed name. My friends call me something different than my boss or the server at my favorite restaurant, in part because I'm a different person depending on who I'm interacting with.

Identity is fluid. Trying to freeze it and display it like a dead bug is an exercise in artifice. Facebook doesn't know or care who you really are, as long as they can sell you in bulk to their advertisers. Drop the pretext that this is about anything else.

Wagner James Au

"It's great she's stepping up, but the Facebook policy hasn't changed. It's always been possible to get an account under your stage or pen name if you're a performer/artist. "

If I'm reading Sister Roma's guidelines right, they have changed -- they'll make allowances for people with pseudonym names as long as they're used in real life contexts offline. (For example, accept an odd nickname that someone is known almost exclusively by in the person's town.) My point is that it would be much easier for a performer/artist to *prove* that a pseudonymous name is used offline, because they could point to an article/theater billing/whatever.

Adeon Writer

There are more, many more, far more, people who call me Adeon than there are those who refer to my by my given name, but, the thing is, they all do so over the medium of a computer.

The people who talk to me in real life on a daily bases... I can count them on both hands.

Tracy RedAngel

Facebook just wants to harvest real identities so their advertisers can spam you. They can claim to have altruistic intentions regarding their real name policy, but I don't buy it.

Wagner James Au

That's actually not how Facebook works -- they just enable advertisers to target you by your self-designated age, gender, location, favorites, activity, etc. etc. They could care less about your real name vis a vis ad revenue, they already got everything that really matters. :)


Avatars are not in a "nebulous state." Facebook has made it clear that if they cannot track your real world identity, then they do not want you on their service. Facebook is interested in one thing - collecting intelligence on the users so that they can sell it. If your Facebook activities are not tied to your real world activities, you are useless to them and are just cluttering up their data.

SL avatars need to understand that Facebook could cut them off at any time. Backup your friends list and photos now!

Wagner James Au

Again, that's not accurate - they don't track your real world activities through your name, they track it through your actions *on Facebook*.

ice petal

I know FB's real name policy is intended to curb bad behavior and so on, but their policy doesn't make *me* feel safe. We're in a world where various entities demand the right to view your page, such as employers - and I'm just not interested in playing this game. I was on FB under my real name which they shut down because, paradoxically, they emailed didn't sound like a real name! They then demanded various forms of proof which were way beyond what i would trust with most online entities, let along FB. So that was that.

Arcadia Codesmith

"They could care less about your real name vis a vis ad revenue, they already got everything that really matters. :)"

The aggregators want your unique identity, including real name, address, etc. That allows them to track your activity across multiple platforms and build the most complete profile of you. For marketing purposes, of course. No ethical person would ever dream of using that information for other ends...

Wagner James Au

Citation for that claim, Arcadia?

Arcadia Codesmith

What claim? That's how data aggregation works. Without a unique identifier (preferably your real name) it's useless. Facebook is a pioneer on the bleeding edge of extreme data warehousing, It's pretty much their only profit center, and they are constantly pushing the envelope. From a pure techie standpoint, it's a thing of beauty. From a social stanpoint, not so much.

Other entities might not have direct access to that warehouse, but they're using cruder methods to scrub as much info as possible from Facebook. The IRS does it on taxpayers with suspect returns. Immigration uses it to gather information on undocumented residents. The NSA... who the hell knows, but you can bet that anything the other agencies are doing, NSA taught them.

This is all public record stuff. The controversy isn't whether it's happening, it's how can we the people limit it. And I'm afraid there aren't any easy solutions.

Wagner James Au

"What claim?"

Your claim that Facebook wants users' real names for marketing purposes -- where's your citation? I work with several companies that work with Facebook and/or deal with Facebook ads on one level or another, and that notion's never come up, but it's possible I missed it.

Arcadia Codesmith

I regard it as self-evident. So, apparently, does the Wall Street Jounal:

"Knowing its users' real identities has been central to Facebook's business model, which involves building detailed profiles of people so it can send them targeted advertisements based on their personalities."

(WSJ, "Facebook Changes Real-Name Policy After Uproar From Drag Queens", 10/02/2014, http://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-changes-real-name-policy-after-uproar-from-drag-queens-1412223040)

Carmen Sutter over at Adobe blogged essentially the same thing:

"Their business model also relies on gathering as much data about users as possible – information that becomes less valuable when not attached to a person’s legal name."


Silver lining: Zuckerberg's bizarre crusade against personal privacy is resulting in boom times for alternatives like Ello (which, as a public benefit corporation, doesn't have to maximize profits at the expense of its users).

Wagner James Au

Arcadia, "I regard it as self-evident" kinda sounds like there's no actual source for an actual Facebook policy. (And neither source cites one.) In fact, here's how Facebook advertising works: In enables advertisers to target ads based on the aggregate of demographic info and interests its own users self-designate. Its true that this info is more valuable when it reflects the users' actual interests and demographic info, but that doesn't depend on RL per legal names per se.

Seriously: Anyone can create a Facebook ad, so give the platform a look. You can, for example, target males in San Francisco who are between 24-35, who have Liked or uploaded photos from restaurants in the Mission District *and* Liked the Democrat party and World of Warcraft pages, and that gives you a means to be super precise with who sees your ads. But it really doesn't depend on RL names.

Arcadia Codesmith

Oh, I see. You want the portion of the Facebook Terms of Service where it says, "We reserve the right to cynically abuse your real-world data to stuff our pockets with billions of dollars."

No, I don't have that.

All I have is that exact same cute pair of shoes I looked at on Amazon staring at me from the right margin of my Facebook page. And gee, that's some pretty slick predictive algorithm, unless my real identity on Amazon is linked to my real identity on Facebook.

Wagner James Au

I'm not an expert, but sounds like you were browsing Amazon while logged into Facebook, or clicked on an Amazon ad *on* Facebook.

That or this came from a standard web cookie which showed you visited that Amazon page. Now *those* are kinda spooky - cookies can and do track the users' name and address and credit card info via web forms. But that was pre-Facebook, and those are going away as we shift to mobile. In either case, it's not really about real names per se.

Arcadia Codesmith

Facebook's not relying on anything as primitive as a cookie. Their system, which they refer to as a "Facebook Pixel", is using embedded code to directly load personal information from an advertiser's website to their servers.

In its crudest form, it just identifies Facebook users who have also visited an advertiser's website. But it can get a lot more granular than that. In my case, it can tell that I took an interest in a particular Mary Jane style shoe and use that data to advertise that exact shoe (and others like it) to me on Facebook. It could also feed to Facebook the titles of erotic and political literature I've perused, what sex toys and bondage gear I've seen and bought, how much money I spend with that retailer, and my real name and address.

And while I'm not ashamed of my affiliations, I'd rather not have my magnum opus "HTML for Toddlers" launch with the byline, "Real Namesmith, sex-positive kink-friendly genderqueer lesbian feminist green-party environmentalist". I'll save that for when I land a column with the Huffington Post.


You are surprisingly naive about Facebook's big data practices, James.

Here's a piece by Propublica from a year ago. http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-we-know-about-what-data-brokers-know-about-you

"More traditional consumer data can also be connected with information about what you do online. Datalogix, the company that collects loyalty card data, has partnered with Facebook to track whether Facebook users who see ads for certain products actually end up buying them at local stores, as the Financial Times reported in 2012."

That is not aggregation. That is Facebook selling your information (partnering is a euphemism) to people who are compiling big databases on your every move.

And this is just corporate marketing. The political big data racket is even better funded than the marketers thanks to the billionaires playing with our society like it's a tinker toy. You think they are not buying Facebook data?

Wake up, James.


Would have been polite to list Sister's email in a less bit trollabke format.

Email at versus email@


* bot trollable

Gealya aeon


Gealya aeon

The title of the previously posted link is "Surveillance as a Business Model".

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