Facebook Real Names Policy

This has been circulating around Facebook lately. The posts are usually about how horrible Facebook is, wondering why they need your real name and concluding its because they want to sell your information. I have over 25 years of sales and marketing experience so I thought I’d give my take on what’s going on.

Why now?

Facebook has been around for since 2004 and they’ve never tried to force us to use real names. In fact, they stood idly by while I watched kids and baby boomers create numerous fake accounts to shore up their Farmville and Mafia Wars games.

But, advertising…

Facebook’s advertising network has been around since 2008 and they had a lot of trouble monetizing the site back then. If they wanted to make money selling your name they would have done it years ago.

So why does Facebook want our real names?

Facebook Real Name

Let’s look at other networks. Hotmail, Yahoo, Lycos and AOL were never very picky about your info. Enter whatever you want, they don’t care. Most people used those networks as their throw-away accounts. Need to sign up for some contest, but you don’t want spam? Get a Yahoo account.

Like Gmail?

Interesting question. Gmail started much in the same way, but they did something a bit different. They wanted to be your primary email. Gmail minimizes ad space, is easy to use, can have more than one email address, was started by invitation only and still has value today. They also require your real name as well as verification.

It’s a conspiracy!

Not really. Google’s verification process is to ensure you are a real person. This reduces spam from their servers, reduces the number of accounts each person has and adds value to the account. The value you assign to something is based on how much it cost to aquire it. The cost, in this case, is time.

It is my main email account.

And that’s what Facebook wants. They want people to put more value in their accounts so they’re less likely to throw them away. And right now people are starting to reevaluate whether they need Facebook or not. This is their response. They also have one more reason.

They’re selling my info.

Kind of. They revolutionized online logging by allowing other sites to use their verification system to log you in. If your account is a junk account with junk information, partners that use Facebook as a login won’t want to keep that service. The value of Facebook is being eroded and they want to mitigate the damages.

So, what about my info?

When you use Facebook to login to a site, that site gets access to your account information. The cool part is they only get access to what you allow them. If you lock down your settings, they won’t get much (Name & account#). If they want more they will ask you directly and you can say no.

Should I leave Facebook?

Where are your friends? Stick with them. They might miss you if you go.