Keeping It Real: How A Facebook Policy Is Changing The Name Of The Game

In recent months, viral campaigns have addressed Facebook’s crackdown on users posting on the site under false names, most of which are monikers or stage names. Facebook’s policies can have a far-reaching effect, particularly for those who use social media as not only a means of communication, but also self-expression. According to a recent Pew Research Center poll, a whopping 74% of online adults use social media sites, and many of them opt for eschewing the publication of legal names, for a slew of reasons.

Artists and musicians who use social media to promote their work have complained, arguing the social media site’s crackdown is a form of censorship, preventing users from combining their personal and professional lives as they see fit. For others, like members of the LGBTQ community, using one’s given name in public can raise issues of personal safety. For MCs, B-boys and B-girls, DJs, and other Hip-Hop personalities, a nickname can sometimes become a full-fledged identity, one that resonates deeply with personal history, branding, and recognition. While Facebook still allows users to make “pages” under their stage names, many who opted to combine their personal and professional pages into one profile are now forced to separate the two, or begin posting under their birth/government names.

Surely, a benefit to being forced to use our given names is the idea that issues like trolling and cyber-bullying would come with much more accountability. However, perhaps more pressing, is that one of the most attractive facets of social media – the ability to freely express ourselves – is being threatened. While sites like Twitter and Instagram thrive off of creative handles, Facebook – the most common receptacle for our lives and its memories – has begun opting for formality.

As social media becomes very much an integral and inextricable part of our extended networks, it will be interesting to see where the line becomes drawn between online and real-world personalities. For Heads, a nickname can become an inextricably linked component to a person’s character, and while the lack of a recognized nickname on Facebook doesn’t necessarily translate into a loss of a particular identity, it is hard to ignore how omnipresent and ubiquitous the site is when it comes to our daily lives.

How do you think this policy shift may affect your network, or more pertinently, your life?

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