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Facebook Ordered To End Its Real Name Policy In Germany

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the semi-anonymous-cowards dept.

Facebook 471

An anonymous reader writes with a blow to Facebook's policy banning accounts under pseudonyms. From the article: "A German privacy regulator ordered Facebook to stop enforcing its real name policy because it violates a German law that gives users the right to use nicknames online. 'We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers' money and we will fight it vigorously,' a Facebook spokeswoman said in an emailed statement."

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First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322127)

FIRST! GO GERMANY! lol

typical (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | about 2 years ago | (#42322149)

"We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers' money and we will fight it vigorously"

Sounds like someone that has a complete lack of respect for the law in general. "We don't agree with the law, we don't want you trying to enforce the law on us, and we're going to fight it even though it's law."

I do hope the German court decides to haul them out back behind the woodshed and explain how legislature, laws, and law enforcement work.

Re:typical (1)

Jetra (2622687) | about 2 years ago | (#42322165)

Such is the anthem being sung these days.

Re:typical (5, Insightful)

Dexter Herbivore (1322345) | about 2 years ago | (#42322175)

I don't get why Facebook is so against it? Theoretically at least they shouldn't be selling personally identifiable data, just aggregate data, so an individual identification won't affect their product.

Quite simple really (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322187)

It makes the CIA's job much more difficult with nicknames to spy on foreigners.

Re:typical (5, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#42322203)

I don't get why Facebook is so against it? Theoretically at least they shouldn't be selling personally identifiable data, just aggregate data, so an individual identification won't affect their product.

Most likely because they want to guarantee unique and real human accounts to advertisers, when selling ads.

Also, because it makes it easier to connect accounts to other data they may have access to (credit cards on Zinga's servers, etc.).

I am surprised they don't ask for SSN in US so that they can run credit reports and what not. Enough people are sufficiently stupid to hand it over.

Re:typical (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322385)

Also because allowing nicknames lowers the barriers for spammers and people with sockpuppet accounts. It doesn't make abuse impossible, not by a long shot, but it does increase the difficulty of creating webs of realistic-seeming accounts. Since spammers and sockpuppets lower the value of the site to legitimate users, Facebook has that motivation to keep them out as well.

Re:typical (5, Insightful)

fyngyrz (762201) | about 2 years ago | (#42322563)

allowing nicknames lowers the barriers for spammers and people with sockpuppet accounts.

Obviously, AC, you're a spammer and a sockpuppet. Fuck thee off.

You couldn't possibly have a legit reason to be AC.

Re:typical (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322717)

All of my sock puppets have their own facebook accounts. They all love it. They like to set up meetings via facebook. Rick an Pauline are in a facebook relationship.

Umm no (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322721)

That's not the reason. The advertising reason is false, the market can adjust for fake accounts etc as long as the number if real users does exist. The reason they oppose the law is that the facebook business model hinges on the dact that it is easy to find acquaintances and be in touch with people without having to remember their nicknames. It's why Facebook beat myspace, Friendster, Orkut, sixdegrees.com etc. the real name policy is what made Facebook a success.

Re:typical (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 2 years ago | (#42322321)

I don't get why Facebook is so against it?

Part of their product is a directory service. They're also trying to wade into commerce. They also have third-party authentication services through OAuth. For those three things, real names are usually required. No doubt hey have other products in the works - some of their new offering might require real names.

Additionally, anonymous people tend to act like jackasses online, so their costs are bound to be higher.

I'm curious (really) if German ecommerce sites have to accept nicknames along with credit card numbers (and deal with chargebacks if there's fraud).

Re:typical (4, Insightful)

sFurbo (1361249) | about 2 years ago | (#42322527)

The name on credit cards are not used as account names, so I would guess that it is treated differently. If FB wanted to demand a valid CC, I suppose they could do that, but that would remove a lot of children and, I hope, adults who does not want to hand over their payment credentials to anyone who asks. Also, they might still be required to allow people to use pseudonyms on postings.

Re:typical (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322747)

Additionally, anonymous people tend to act like jackasses online, so their costs are bound to be higher.

Fuck you and your baseless assertions.

Re:typical (4, Interesting)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42322775)

I'm curious (really) if German ecommerce sites have to accept nicknames along with credit card numbers (and deal with chargebacks if there's fraud).

No need.

There is no need to even have a login at a site to be able to pay with your credit card. Or you could log in using your (real) name, and use the credit card of another person.

Those things are no problem for web sites, if only because the name as written on my credit card does not match the name that I normally use (my middle name is included, and the order is different).

Re:typical (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322345)

What is this theoretically of which you speak?

Facebook's business model is selling your personally identifiable data.

Re:typical (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 2 years ago | (#42322453)

Which is why they wanted a unique cell phone number to identify my account...

Which is when I stopped using Facebook (about 7-8 months ago).

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322663)

Which is why they wanted a unique cell phone number to identify my account...

Which is when I stopped using Facebook (about 7-8 months ago).

Just FYI, you don't have to give them any information. I've never linked a phone to my account, and it only asked me once.

Re:typical (4, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#42322491)

It is this very policy which stops me from using Facebook. If I can't log in with an alias, I won't log in at all. Plus, until you log in, you can't see what Facebook is all about, so I don't even know if Facebook is worth connecting to in the first place.

yeah! What does fb (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322609)

have against Barry .. erm .. Barack Obama?

Re:typical (3, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#42322657)

Even then, they can still uniquely identify you by the fake name. But I think they've gotten into trouble with people using fake names and pretending to be people they aren't.

If you're friends with Cowboy Neal, but he's not on facebook, and I go and make an account under the name Cowboy Neal, take his photos and use that try and befriend you and get you to divulge personal information about your relationship with Cowboy Neal that's hard to prosecute (or police) without a real name policy. Because I have as much right to call myself Cowboy Neal as Johnathan Pater if we can all use nicknames equally. And how do you show that I'm not cowboy neal who just lost his account info.

Facebook is also trying to convert 'likes' and other marketing products into real tangible things. If you and I both 'like' borderlands 2 then gearbox can see that we liked the page. If we can be fake people that poses a problem. If they want to bill you for a service (points to be used in online games) they need a valid billing name to be able to charge you, and of course eventually they want you to be a paying customer.

Probably some of it is purely practical. Trying to keep track of one friend using a kind of fake name isn't so bad. Trying to keep track of several of them, that use names which have no relation to their actual name seriously limits the usability of facebook. I, now about 15 years out of highschool, have enough trouble trying to sort out women with married names (15 years and kids change appearance a lot) and a lot of times I can't really tell if it's a person I know or not. Facebook doesn't work if it's trying to be private but social, they are opposing goals. At least in the real world, and with people who only sometimes use facebook and where you can regularly have several hundred friends, all of whom are people you actually know and wish to keep in touch with. Facebook lives and breathes on your ability to find people, if enough people become impossible to find or keep track of it starts to lose its functionality. Of course that need to find the actual correct person is the greatest gift to stalkers in history. Unfortunately.

I have lots of my (university) students befriend me on facebook, and being in CS and engineering a lot of them are foreign students. Their names on paper are usually names appropriate to their country of origin. But they then try and use western sounding names either part way through or after graduate. And quite honestly, 2 years after you were my student as Xi Li, now being David Lee, I have no fucking clue who you are. That's not even on facebook necessarily, that's just trying to keep track of records of who people actually are. Take a kid out of a classroom, feed him properly for 2 years, give him a real job and some decent clothes and then give me a thumbnail sized photo and I'm not going to to figure out which name I knew you under.

Re:typical (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | about 2 years ago | (#42322661)

Third paragraph, last sentence 'they' as in Facebook, not gearbox. I mashed up a couple of thoughts sorry.

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322729)

Consider the YouTube effect. people can be less civil, less polite, and hide behind anonimity. speaking anonymously has it's place, Facebook didn't think it was their site. Germany apparently disagrees.

it's more about the sites culture and distinction from forums than short termearnings

Re:typical (1)

luther349 (645380) | about 2 years ago | (#42322185)

if its such a wast of time and money then why are you going to wast more time and money fighting it,

Re:typical (4, Interesting)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#42322311)

if its such a wast of time and money then why are you going to wast more time and money fighting it,

It's a waste of *taxpayer* money. For facebook, though, it isn't a waste because it means their ads are worth less because of the German law, so spending money to ensure that they have high-quality data to sell advertisers is worth it. Remember, it's good for their customers if everyone can lead to a real person.

Of course, how long until Google's G+ falls under the same restrictions? After all, G+ linking your name is getting more insidious across Google sites now, like say, replying to a YouTube comment now uses your real name.

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322501)

It's a waste of *taxpayer* money. For facebook, though, it isn't a waste because it means their ads are worth less because of the German law, so spending money to ensure that they have high-quality data to sell advertisers is worth it. Remember, it's good for their customers if everyone can lead to a real person.

while true, this still sort of misses (what i took to be) GP's point, in that if facebook are so worried about wasting "german taxpayers' money", then they should meekly comply with the new law to avoid more of german taxpayers' money being wasted in a tussle with facebook about it. but if they're willing to cause the german government to piss away money in a legal fight, then it's disingenous at best for facebook to claim any concern about taxpayers' money.

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322669)

if its such a wast of time and money then why are you going to wast more time and money fighting it,

They aren't going to waste any time or money. Facebook isn't a German company, they don't have any presence IN Germany, and thus are not subject to German laws.

Re:typical (3, Informative)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | about 2 years ago | (#42322771)

That German subsidiary company that handles their advertising must not exist then. Or youre fucking clueless.

Re:typical (3, Insightful)

kdemetter (965669) | about 2 years ago | (#42322197)

Not to mention that this seems to actually be a law which serves the people, rather than corporations .

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322221)

Not to mention that this seems to actually be a law which serves the people, rather than corporations .

The people can serve themselves by not using bullshit like Facebook.

Never had an account, never will. I have real friends. We do real things in meatspace. This is the world that opens up to those who are not stuck in Mama's basement.

Re:typical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322271)

Not to mention that this seems to actually be a law which serves the people, rather than corporations .

The people can serve themselves by not using bullshit like Facebook. Never had an account, never will. I have real friends. We do real things in meatspace. This is the world that opens up to those who are not stuck in Mama's basement.

Bullshit friends who take turns attention whoring love Facebook.

But real friends don't let friends use Facebook.

When you have truly healthy and satisfying relationships with real people it is amazing how you don't crave casual attention from acquaintences that are little more than strangers.

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322707)

This is the world that opens up to those who are not stuck in Mama's basement.

I fail to see how trolling family, friends, and people I went to highschool with 30 years ago on facebook is any different than you trolling random strangers on slashdot. At least, from a "get out of Mama's basement" point of view.

I don't spend much time on facebook at all. It's more there so the women and older people I'm related to can feel like they're "in touch" without having to write pointless letters about how the weather is this week or which carpet my dog shit on today. One status update every few weeks satisfies the social obligations I have to "stay in touch" with various people.

I have real friends. We do real things in meatspace.

Yes, so do most people on facebook, and much of what is posted on facebook is stuff about what they're doing in "meatspace". Whether those things are "real" or not is largely a matter of individual opinion. The people who don't have "real" friends and don't do "real" things in meatspace didn't get like that from using Facebook, rather they're turning to it and other forms of online socializing because they have pre-existing issues with establishing social relationships in real life.

Re:typical (3, Interesting)

hairyfish (1653411) | about 2 years ago | (#42322305)

But wait, they don't have freedom of speech or the right to bear arms in Germany so how can this be?

Re:typical (4, Informative)

YttriumOxide (837412) | about 2 years ago | (#42322465)

But wait, they don't have freedom of speech or the right to bear arms in Germany so how can this be?

Article 5 of the German Basic Law (Grundgesetz) would disagree with you on freedom of speech (specifically: freedom of expression). It states:

(1) Every person shall have the right freely to express and disseminate his opinions in speech, writing, and pictures and to inform himself without hindrance from generally accessible sources. Freedom of the press and freedom of reporting by means of broadcasts and films shall be guaranteed. There shall be no censorship.
(2) These rights shall find their limits in the provisions of general laws, in provisions for the protection of young persons, and in the right to personal honor.
(3) Art and scholarship, research, and teaching shall be free. The freedom of teaching shall not release any person from allegiance to the constitution.

There are of course limits to this as indicated by the second statement; but I've yet to see a country where this is not the case. Even in the much flaunted "free" USA, Wikipedia informs me:

In the United States freedom of expression is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. There are several common law exceptions including obscenity, defamation, incitement, incitement to riot or imminent lawless action, fighting words, fraud, speech covered by government granted monopoly (copyright), and speech integral to criminal conduct. There are federal criminal law statutory prohibitions covering all the common law exceptions other than defamation, of which there is civil law liability, as well as making false statements (lying) in "matters within the jurisdiction" of the federal government, speech related to information decreed to be related to national security such as military and classified information, false advertising, perjury, privileged communications, trade secrets, copyright, and patents. Most states and localities have many identical restrictions, as well as harassment, and time, place and manner restrictions.

Overall, it seems similar.

Re:typical (4, Insightful)

Spaseboy (185521) | about 2 years ago | (#42322215)

An American company really believes they can force Germany to change their laws or allow Facebook to operate outside of the law? Just WOW. What the hell kind of shenanigans are they pulling over here, then?

Re:typical (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322253)

Eat shit kraut

Re:typical (0)

hairyfish (1653411) | about 2 years ago | (#42322293)

If we really went it what Americans believe we'd be here all day...

Re:typical (3, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | about 2 years ago | (#42322369)

Germans have a very different attitude towards corporate power and influence. It seems almost quaint.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/world/europe/berlin-tour-raises-awareness-on-lobbying.html [nytimes.com]
Berlin Journal
And on Your Left, Behind Those Walls, Lobbyists Are at Work
By NICHOLAS KULISH
November 22, 2012
(Timo Lange, campaigner LobbyControl, gives tours to sites of lobbyists. German Brewers Association, cigarette lobby. German Chemical Industry Association. Germans suspicous of propaganda and paid advertising. Money in campaigns is seen not as free speech but as buying access. Merkel lives a modest life.)
“The problem is the linkage between economic power and political power,” said Daniela Haug.
“We are very thin-skinned when it comes to any form of propaganda,” Claas Lorenz, 25, a student on the tour, said in a succinct reference to Germany’s Nazi history. “We had very bad experiences with it in our past.”
Andrea Römmele, a professor at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, said: “Money in campaigns in the United States is freedom of speech; it’s seen as a way of expressing oneself. In Germany, giving money in politics is always seen as trying to buy access.”
German attitudes toward politics and money help explain the enduring appeal of Ms. Merkel, who still lives in the apartment she got before she became chancellor, and who hikes on vacation. “Merkel is so beloved for her sober, unglamorous style of governing,” said Frank Decker, a professor of political science at the University of Bonn. “With her, you would never imagine that she might use politics to become rich.”
The Christian Democrats

Re:typical (2)

StuartHankins (1020819) | about 2 years ago | (#42322543)

They've been through the extreme -- I hope we don't also have to go through such pain to have such a "quaint" attitude. We could use some of that here now. It's been getting bad for a long time.

Re:typical (1)

mister2au (1707664) | about 2 years ago | (#42322427)

More to the point, a German regulator in a tiny state thinks they can regulate an American website ????

In what possible way is this enforceable?

Worst case, just terminate the service to 1 million German in the affected state and see what happens.

Re:typical (1)

anagama (611277) | about 2 years ago | (#42322481)

Yeah, the shareholders are going to love that "cut off your nose to spite your face" policy and start wondering what other countries FB is going to bail out of. They already don't have enough customers to justify their IPO price -- to actively reduce them seems a rather unwise policy.

Re:typical (1)

tbird81 (946205) | about 2 years ago | (#42322503)

Exactly. It's understandable if Facebook operates a business in Germany, but if it's a US website, surely they can tell the Germans to stick it.

I don't want Saudis or Egyptians deciding what a website not on their soil is able to do either.

Re:typical (2)

nosferatu1001 (264446) | about 2 years ago | (#42322787)

They DO operate a business in Germany. Advertising.

Re:typical (1)

tooyoung (853621) | about 2 years ago | (#42322513)

If the ruling had been against Google, the prevailing comments on this site would be a call to return no search results for German websites. Interesting how attitudes differ based on the company in question...

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322571)

facebook believes itself to be above the law, except when the government or its agencies ask for data, then it's "here, take all you want. please close the door on your way out".

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322767)

An American company really believes they can force Germany to change their laws or allow Facebook to operate outside of the law?

Really, +4 Insightful? For getting this entirely 100% backwards?

"The orders were issued on Friday against Facebook USA and Facebook Ireland,"
Mind telling me how you went from "German regulator with jurisdiction over one small part of Germany attempts to enforce laws on other countries where he has no jurisdiction" to that crap you spewed out your asshole?

Facebook has the right, under German law, to contest this mandate within the area of jurisdiction, which is what they plan to do. Their defense is that the claims are without merit because it's outside the jurisdiction, and because their policy complies with the privacy laws of the EU which apply to the Ireland office.

Re:typical (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322267)

Turn this around. What if a government had forced Twitter to use real names? Would you still call it a lack of respect of law? Twitter's entire premise is built on anonymity.

Facebook's product model is built on real names. Why should Facebook have to change their product model to accommodate every country's wish?

Re:typical (1)

boblaroc (1670576) | about 2 years ago | (#42322357)

They don't. Facebook has the option not to do business in said country

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322425)

Facebook's product model is built on real names. Why should Facebook have to change their product model to accommodate every country's wish?

They don't. Their option is to not operate in that country. Have no offices or other presence within the borders. Then if German citizens decide to access the site anyway then that is their own problem. IANAL but it would not surprise me if they could even put a little clause on Page 37 of the TOS (that you read and understood of course) saying that people in the jurisdiction of Germany are not authorized to use the site and should disconnect immediately. I suppose another option could be to block German IP addresses.

I simply don't deal with a country if I really have a problem with their laws. Or anything else about them. But then I am not a whiner who loves to cry about how unfair everything is. If Facebook is providing something truly important and valuable then that will be Germany's loss and might get the law changed eventually. If Facebook is a completely non-essential service of dubious value that doesn't provide as much privacy as the Germans would like, then that's a favor to Germany. Either way there is no real problem here. It is self correcting and the gigantic Facebook corporation will just have to carry on somehow, the poor dears.

This is not a crisis. But it is funny to see the PR coming out of Facebook. IMHO none of it is very convincing. If they just straight up said "we don't like this law because we could make more money without it" I would at least respect their honesty. Also IMHO this company doesn't deserve this kind of attention.

Re:typical (1)

kbw (524341) | about 2 years ago | (#42322275)

This is interesting, a wealthy global company taking on a powerful sovereign state and largest European market. Maybe Germany will take another look at Facebook's local tax arrangements.

Re:typical (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322303)

Somebody is challenging the government?? How dare they talk back! Nazi Germany won't stand for this.

Re:typical (4, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | about 2 years ago | (#42322307)

The statements of belief are matters of opinion to be decided by the German courts. As for the German taxpayers, I doubt that many of them would consider this a waste of money. The Europeans in general and the Germans in particular have very well developed and sophisticated legal concepts of privacy and ownership of personal information. This is due in no small part to successive generations of European taxpayers who, recognizing the value in such things, directed their governments to secure them rather than allowing them to routinely violate them as we've done here in the United States.

Re:typical (2)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | about 2 years ago | (#42322347)

Sounds like someone that has a complete lack of respect for the law in general. "We don't agree with the law, we don't want you trying to enforce the law on us, and we're going to fight it even though it's law."

I do hope the German court decides to haul them out back behind the woodshed and explain how legislature, laws, and law enforcement work.

What? That's not what they said, they said that the order is not grounded in the law and that the legislature never passed anything requiring that. Part of the way that "legislature, laws, and law enforcement" works is that when an order exceeds the authority of the person making the order or is based on a mistaken interpretation, it can be challenged and the court will figure out who is correct. Lots of good caselaw (at least here in the US) was made that way -- not by claiming that the law is wrong, but that the government isn't following it or has gone beyond its limits.

Of course, I'm not a German lawyer, and so I'm not asserting that the claim is right, only that their claim ("the order is without merit") is perfectly consistent with respect for the law and the legislature in general.

Re:typical (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 2 years ago | (#42322361)

Yeah, I'm not sure the average German citizen would be swayed by that argument. I suspect they'd like their money being spent to ensure that corporations obey the law.

Re:typical (1)

suomynonAyletamitlU (1618513) | about 2 years ago | (#42322419)

More like I hope Facebook pulls out of Germany entirely. This is what happens when you try to govern an open, international forum by fencing yourself in.

facebook = open???? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322651)

This is what happens when you try to govern an open, international forum by fencing yourself in.

facebook is NOT an "open" forum.

read the terms of service, educate yourself. would you consider a forum an "open" one if it forbid participation by those unfortunate youngsters who had a relationship over one of the famous age lines? what if you pissed on a bush and bought yourself a "sexual offender" label? What if you "sexted" an image of yourself to your sig/other? still "open" in your estimation? if so, you're a total dunce.

facebook is more like a parody of "open"; they limit membership, they censor photographs, they insist those who need anonymity be exposed to those who threaten them, and then they sell you to the highest bidder. only idiots and the bewildered participate. not that there is any shortage of those.

Re:typical (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 2 years ago | (#42322437)

I do hope the German court decides to haul them out back behind the woodshed and explain how legislature, laws, and law enforcement work.

What a fascist idea. A German court would get this, I would think. Telling the government it is doing its own laws wrong...well, that sounds rather free to me.

Re:typical (1)

mumblestheclown (569987) | about 2 years ago | (#42322489)

Sounds like someone that has a complete lack of respect for the law in general. "We don't agree with the law, we don't want you trying to enforce the law on us, and we're going to fight it even though it's law."
I do hope the German court decides to haul them out back behind the woodshed and explain how legislature, laws, and law enforcement work.

Try posting this response in any slashdot piracy thread. I guarantee you you won't get the +5 insightful that you seem to have gotten here.

FB failed to adjust their droids (2)

formfeed (703859) | about 2 years ago | (#42322619)

"We believe the orders are without merit, a waste of German taxpayers' money and we will fight it vigorously"

Sounds like someone that has a complete lack of respect for the law in general. "We don't agree with the law, we don't want you trying to enforce the law on us, and we're going to fight it even though it's law."

Yes, it is disregard for the law. And it is an attempt to manipulate the public opinion in their favor.

But the really funny thing is how unadjusted to the German market their spokesdroids are.

The argument "waste of taxpayers' money" is corporate propaganda used in the US. If government funds a law that provides oversight, it is "waste of taxpayers' money", if however things get funded by "private donations" politicians ought to be praised. (The latter is called corruption in other countries.)

In Germany people expect government to fund and enforce laws. The attitude is more like: I paid for it, I expect good service. So FB basically shot itself in the foot by claiming that government did its job.
- They should have used the "anonymity helps online predators" argument, since that one works in Germany too.

Re:typical (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322643)

I think the Germans need to send zukerburg and the rest of his execs to the showers.. nothing sends a message like the smell of burning meat.

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322649)

do hope the German court decides to haul them out back behind the woodshed and explain how legislature, laws, and law enforcement work.

You mean like how German laws only affect shit in Germany?

Re:typical (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322727)

"I do hope the German court decides to haul them out back behind the woodshed and explain how legislature, laws, and law enforcement work." I think the Germans did this to the Jews once

Bullshit-o-meter (3, Insightful)

Mitreya (579078) | about 2 years ago | (#42322163)

The excuses just get better and better:

Any accounts set up under fake names will be removed from the site when discovered in order to keep the community safe, according to Facebook.

How does this keep community safe? Facebook is not a dating site.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (3, Insightful)

khallow (566160) | about 2 years ago | (#42322179)

Facebook is not a dating site.

And if it were, then fake names would provide better security than real ones.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (3, Insightful)

luther349 (645380) | about 2 years ago | (#42322193)

the real answer is Any accounts set up under fake names will be removed from the site when discovered in order to keep the ad money roiling in.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42322475)

How does a fake name cause an issue there?

Users are followed and profiled by other means than their names: by the content of their comments and posts, groups they subscribe to, "like"s, other web sites (with Facebook "like" button in place) they visit, and probably a few other means that I can't think of.

The actual name attached to the account should be quite irrelevant in that matter. It's merely psychological - a "real name" (whatever that may mean) would denote an individual, and a "fake name" not? Most people using nicknames tend to use the same handle across various web sites, exactly so other people can recognise them, and those handles tend to be more unique than real names anyway.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (2)

Nyder (754090) | about 2 years ago | (#42322195)

The excuses just get better and better:

Any accounts set up under fake names will be removed from the site when discovered in order to keep the community safe, according to Facebook.

How does this keep community safe? Facebook is not a dating site.

They mean safe for them to use the data to make money.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (1)

dadioflex (854298) | about 2 years ago | (#42322259)

If Facebook remove all the accounts using fake names they'll have fewer members than Myspace.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322315)

How does this keep community safe?

The trick I use when interpreting Facebook/Zuckerberg's messages is to remember that you, the user, are not the customer. You are the product

I interpret Facebook's messages to be directed at the real customers - advertisers and people who buy data from Facebook

The "community" that is being protected here is no the community of users, but community of advertisers and people who buy Facebook data

Using that interpretation, it's easy to see why Facebook's statement is in fact correct - Facebook wants to make sure the data they're selling is good, so the people who buy them - Facebook's real customers, the "community" - are safer from the dangers of buying bad data (and the consequences that come from it)

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322509)

Do you have any evidence that people buy data from Facebook?

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#42322525)

Well said. The same goes for any ad based service, like television. The commercials aren't there to sell product to you. The show is there to sell you to the advertisers.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (1)

motoservo (1327295) | about 2 years ago | (#42322373)

I, for one, really appreciated that Facebook forced real names. After a few years on myspace and lists upon lists of nicknames that changed daily left my friends list kind of useless. This, separating friends from other groups, and not letting people "pimp" their pages were the main things that made FB clearly better, IMO.

Re:Bullshit-o-meter (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#42322469)

No one said people need to be able to change their account name a hundred thousand times after creating the account. If you can't associate a single nickname with a single person, then I'd be surprised if you could actually associate regular names with individual people either.

Wrong. (1)

Andy Prough (2730467) | about 2 years ago | (#42322409)

Facebook is not a dating site.

Facebook is very heavily used as a dating site.

IHaveASolution (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322261)

I have a solution that is plain and fair for everyone:
Stop Using Facebook!

Unenforceable (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322281)

About 10% of my associates use fake names or pseudonyms on The Facebook with no consequences. What's stopping everyone else?

What about USA? (2)

antdude (79039) | about 2 years ago | (#42322295)

When will USA do the same? :P

Wasting German Taxpayers' Money? (1)

pkthunders (2777383) | about 2 years ago | (#42322319)

Seems like it's hurting Facebook's personal information sales... But good for them trying to fight the law; at least they have enough balls to say that they're unhappy with it. It sure beats all the worthless arguments people get into online who don't actually ever bother to do anything about it. That includes all the people who complain about Facebook's privacy policy/business model/etc but still use the damned thing.

Unfait (1)

dnixx (2753817) | about 2 years ago | (#42322343)

I gave up on Facebook many years ago, but I've got their back on this one. People may have the right to use nicknames on the internet, but they certainly don't have the right to be on Facebook. Follow the rules or get lost.

Whether their policy is sound is another issue.

Of course it's without merit (3, Interesting)

SlovakWakko (1025878) | about 2 years ago | (#42322363)

The law gives you the right to use pseudonyms online without being prosecuted for it. If a service provider decides that you can use its service only with your real name, that does not violate the law. You can always use a different service provider. Really, it's ridiculous what the governments are trying to regulate nowadays...

Re:Of course it's without merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322417)

Maybe people ought to only be prosecuted for doing things that are against the law. Why ought using a pseudonym online be against the law?

Re:Of course it's without merit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322439)

No, this law is not about the right to use pseudonyms. It's about the obligation of service providers to make the use of pseudonyms possible:

The service provider must enable the use of telemedia and payment for them to occur
anonymously or via a pseudonym where this is technically possible and reasonable. The
recipient of the service is to be informed about this possibility.

German Telemedia Act translation (5, Informative)

rgbrenner (317308) | about 2 years ago | (#42322371)

http://www.cgerli.org/fileadmin/user_upload/interne_Dokumente/Legislation/Telemedia_Act__TMA_.pdf [cgerli.org]

The important section is 13.6:

The service provider must enable the use of telemedia and payment for them to occur
anonymously or via a pseudonym where this is technically possible and reasonable. The
recipient of the service is to be informed about this possibility.

(emphasis mine)

Since it's obviously technically possible, Facebook will have to argue that it's unreasonable.

Re:German Telemedia Act translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322467)

The solution is simple. Facebook should charge $100 / month for users who want to use pseudonyms.

Keeps the regulators happy; keeps people who are willing to trade their privacy for free services happy.

A week later... (1)

game kid (805301) | about 2 years ago | (#42322399)

(A week later...)

Neither Weichert nor Facebook's privacy officers would comment on the record, but a member of the ULD who wished to stay anonymous said "We're glad we could come to this agreement. Facebook is a wonderful free service. We hope to continue to...accommodate this...wonderful...free service," as he caressed his monitor and looked over deposits to his bank accounts.

Darned privacy laws... (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | about 2 years ago | (#42322403)

Those darned privacy laws... Gruss How is poor Facebook supposed to properly monetize its members, if they are allowed to hide their identities?

That the one thing missing from the US Constitution: an explicit right to privacy.

What's in a name? (4, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42322449)

One of the big questions is: what's in a name? What is someone's real name? When you introduce yourself to someone, you give a name. Is that your real name? Everyone will assume it is, without questioning it. But as a matter of fact I know people that go around by a nickname instead of their real name - usually a shorthand of their actual name, that they don't like, but a nickname nonetheless. A friend of mine once called me, introducing herself with her real name (which I heard before but never use - we always used a nickname), and basically I recognised her mostly by voice. The name on her passport is not the name her friends know best.

In Hong Kong it's even more so: all the locals have a Chinese name, written surname first - which sites like Facebook tend to mess up as they use the Western format of given name first. Many also go by an English name, which they actually use mostly in daily life, yet many never bother to register that English name on their passports. That makes it a nickname, yet also the name friends and business associate will know first and foremost.

For myself as my surname tends to be nearly impossible to pronounce for the locals, I usually just give them my first name to address me. That's hard enough to pronounce for them. And many will use that as were it my last name (adding "mister" in front). And for e.g. writing cheques, I must add my middle name as well - a name that I normally never use.

Then there is the issue of many people carrying the same name. My name is relatively unique do to a fairly rare surname, and my first name was not used much in my generation. So you see a name, but is that the John Doe you know from the bar, or another John Doe?

And finally names can be changed, legally, at will. Kim Dotcom from Megaupload fame is an example, and recently on Slashdot the mention of an American man who sold his name to the highest bidder, and for the next year he'll go by another name before assuming his original name again (or taking on yet another name).

It all comes down to a name being just a label, a way to recognise a person. Whether that label is the same as in that person's passport, that's not so relevant to their friends. They know a guy called "Bill", even when it says "William" in their passports. The argument that names must be "real names" to have people find their friends online, breaks down badly in those cases. A person is who they say they are, and no legal document or whatever is going to change that.

Re:What's in a name? (2)

Maow (620678) | about 2 years ago | (#42322667)

In Hong Kong it's even more so: all the locals have a Chinese name, written surname first - which sites like Facebook tend to mess up as they use the Western format of given name first. Many also go by an English name, which they actually use mostly in daily life, yet many never bother to register that English name on their passports. That makes it a nickname, yet also the name friends and business associate will know first and foremost.

And then, they'll take their 2nd or 3rd name, double it up, and use that as a Chinese nickname as well as having an English nickname.

i.e. Wong Tse Mei could be known to Chinese friends as "Mei Mei", English speaking friends as "Sally"...

And when in North America, they'll use the English name, sometimes use the 2nd & 3rd name's initials (sometimes not, sometimes the whole words), and the surname (which, like you said, comes first usually) in official documents.

Gets confusing fast! "What combination of 4 names did I use on my insurance / license / government forms, ...

Re:What's in a name? (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42322739)

i.e. Wong Tse Mei could be known to Chinese friends as "Mei Mei", English speaking friends as "Sally"...

Indeed they do it like that, but the "Mei Mei" version is rather colloquial and primarily used for children, and the English name "Sally" would be used by most Chinese speaking friends as well. The short-hand version would more likely become "Ah-Mei" - it is so often that I have been told to "ask for ah-something" when I was looking for say the person in charge of a scrap yard, or a construction site, or shop.

And Wong being the surname, on many Western web sites this name would become "Tse Mei Wong" (I have no idea how Facebook this really handles - never tried). An order not used in normal life, very confusing to see that appear.

In case of official forms it's easy and unambiguous: "the name as it appears on your Hong Kong ID card". And that's got a very strict order of "surname, given names" with all given names fully written out.

I shall now go by my proper name on the German FB (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322463)

Wolfe schlegel stein hausen berger dorff vor altern warenge wissenhaft schafers wessen schafewaren wohlgepflege und sorgfaltig keit beschut zenvonangreifendurchihr raub gierig feinde welchevor alt ern zwolft aus endjahresvorandieer scheinen wanderer steer demen schder raum schiffge brauch lich talsseinurs prungvonkraft gestart sein lange fahrthin zwischenstern artigraum aufder suche nach die stern welchege habt bewohn bar planeten kreise drehen sich und wohinder neurassevonverstandig mensch lich keit konnte fort planze nund sicher freuen anlebenslanglich freudeundruhe mit nicht ein furcht voran greif envon anderer intelligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum

Apologies for the spaces, but Slashdot's filter error is defiling my name.

For that, I shall sue.

Re:I shall now go by my proper name on the German (0)

camperdave (969942) | about 2 years ago | (#42322589)

Wolfe schlegel stein hausen berger dorff vor altern warenge wissenhaft schafers wessen schafewaren wohlgepflege und sorgfaltig keit beschut zenvonangreifendurchihr raub gierig feinde welchevor alt ern zwolft aus endjahresvorandieer scheinen wanderer steer demen schder raum schiffge brauch lich talsseinurs prungvonkraft gestart sein lange fahrthin zwischenstern artigraum aufder suche nach die stern welchege habt bewohn bar planeten kreise drehen sich und wohinder neurassevonverstandig mensch lich keit konnte fort planze nund sicher freuen anlebenslanglich freudeundruhe mit nicht ein furcht voran greif envon anderer intelligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum

I had a cousin by that name, but we lost touch... Are you the Wolfe schlegel stein hausen berger dorff vor altern warenge wissenhaft schafers wessen schafewaren wohlgepflege und sorgfaltig keit beschut zenvonangreifendurchihr raub gierig feinde welchevor alt ern zwolft aus endjahresvorandieer scheinen wanderer steer demen schder raum schiffge brauch lich talsseinurs prungvonkraft gestart sein lange fahrthin zwischenstern artigraum aufder suche nach die stern welchege habt bewohn bar planeten kreise drehen sich und wohinder neurassevonverstandig mensch lich keit konnte fort planze nund sicher freuen anlebenslanglich freudeundruhe mit nicht ein furcht voran greif envon anderer intelligentgeschopfsvonhinzwischensternartigraum who used to live down the road from an abandoned POW camp near Hammelburg?

Compliance (2)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#42322507)

Facebook's real name policy complies with European data protection principles and Irish law, according to the social network.

Oh, well then, as long as it complies there, I guess it doesn't matter if it doesn't comply elsewhere.

"real" "names" (1)

rueger (210566) | about 2 years ago | (#42322515)

Ahem. I know of one user who lists their names "Anal Medusa", an anagram of their legit name.

Does anyone really think that more than 70% of names on Facebook are for real?

Re:"real" "names" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322635)

The way I read this, in the US, if Facebook says "it's not your real name" they can force you to change it, or even cancel your account.
If they catch a german citizen doing the same, they can't do either.
Whether or not the german having a fake name is a good thing isn't the point.
That Facebook can discriminate against them probably is.

How can law apply? (1)

DI4BL0S (1399393) | about 2 years ago | (#42322553)

To put you on track with my opinions on Facebook: I feel no desire to use it, it's a self maintaining address book for me. Now, I'm really wondering what gives Germany the right to say Facebook should allow nicknames, since when is it a users right to use Facebook by law? Is there a facebook.de? hosted in germany for germans? I dont think so. you use Facebook on free will on terms they define... you don't like it, go somewhere else!

Re:How can law apply? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322741)

Well, if Germans are by law allowed to use nicknames online then they can. If facebook doesn't want to allow people from Germany signing on, then they can try to limit them from registering. Might be hard concept for americans with strong contract law, but I believe in most of Europe there are way more rights you can't sign away even if you try. If they are allowed by law to use pseudonyms then facebooks EULA can't take the right away.

German citizens can solve it themselves. (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | about 2 years ago | (#42322559)

"Hello Facebook, my name is Hans. Hans Steiner. Yes, even though I'm a woman. My parents hated me."

For every single new signup.

That'll fix 'em.

Why should Facebook have to do anything? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322607)

Facebook is not a required service. Nobody has to use it. Users are not paying for it.

I do not understand why Facebook should have to do anything. I think Germany telling a web site owner/developer that they have to make their system work a particular way is wrong. If Germans do not like sharing their real name online, then Germans should not join Facebook. Simple! How is it Facebook's problem that Germans want a feature that Facebook does not support?

I think it is great that Germany is trying to be on the cutting edge of protecting the privacy of its citizens; but this looks like another example of government over-reach. As a developer, I believe that I should be free to create websites, applications, etc. as I see fit.

Merry Christmas!

Quick hit the unfriend button Mark (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42322637)

I imagine that Thilo [facebook.com] has already unfriended Mark [facebook.com] . Just wonder how much longer Thilo will have a profile? Though looks like his account is rather bereft of any content in the true German minimalist tradition, so just maybe it is just a doppelganger dupe profile, who knows.

Germans bureaucrats and law makers seem to be getting really up in arms at both Google and Facebook now that Microsoft [zdnet.com] has paid them off enough like the way they do in the States.

This is just another sponsored attack and you can bet that Microsoft is somewhere not to deep in the background egging on the German politicians with the usual grease. How else could the Germans have lost their minds and allowed ridiculous American software patents to stand.

Attacking Facebook and Google in the US would be suicide for Microsoft but as usual they are just doing it where a small amount of grease will get the biggest results. Germany has become the Utah and West Texas of Europe, shame on them! Angela Merkel is nothing more than a sheep in wolves' clothing. Same as Stephen Harper in Canada. No balls at all but at least Merkel has a real excuse.

Your name on the internet (1)

Tei (520358) | about 2 years ago | (#42322695)

I don't care much about the german law either, but forcing people to use his real name in the internet is just wrong. With your real name you can have people know everything about you, while you don't even know that exists. May pull other data from other sources, like your taxes, where you live, who is your family. Is unhealty and a big risk, probably the motives has ben made a law in germany (making it a law is a bit excesive, I think). Revealing your real name open the floodgates for anyone to easy reveal all other data, and start connecting the dots.

regulations and laws (2)

l3v1 (787564) | about 2 years ago | (#42322733)

As always, this is another example of how US companies sometimes fail to see that there are countries on this planet where data and privacy protection regulations do exist, and not just left to the companies to go by their own terms&conditions changing by the weather.

Facebook can fight this all they want, it still won't make them any more likeable to a lot of us.
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