Friday, September 21, 2012

How does friends reporting friends make a better Facebook?

Facebook started to prompt users to report fake accounts used by their friends.  By now most people know that Facebook wants to become a social network where real name is used.  The reason is simple one.  Facebook generates its revenue by serving ads to users, and wants real users who connect with their real friends so that more information can be collected regarding each user.

Real identity makes sense for Facebook.  But what is in it for user?  How does Facebook become a better social network by turning in a friend who uses Facebook with pseudonyms?

@chapeaudefee reported the screenshot.
I wonder how many users actually respond with 'yes'.

Let me guess what Facebook's argument might be:

1. Allowing fake identity means people will do stupid things like spamming.

2. Real identity encourages more constructive participation.

3. You are not paying for your 'free' Facebook account if you are using fake identity.

4. It's on Terms of Use.  Get used to it.

Fake identities, i.e. pseudonyms, do not necessarily mean trolling and disruptive behavior.  In fact there are examples where pseudonym actually encourages more constructive participation rather than using real identity.  Perhaps #3 can more likely be the real reason for real identity.  But even then, it's not clear to me that pseudonymous account's social graph will be much different from real accounts because a user with pseudonym will still be connected with real friends.  I would think that friends who connect with a pseudonym will be more likely to know the real user behind the pseudonym before friending the account.

But at the end of the day it's a free-to-join network, and Facebook owns the network.  I understand that Facebook can set their own acceptable Terms of Use.

What I do not understand is how Facebook is approaching to solve this.  By applying crowdsourcing technique to report on your friends using pseudonyms, Facebook is creating an environment that is not conducive to more openness and sharing.  Instead, it's creating an atmosphere where friends can turn on each other for violating Facebook-centric Terms of Use.  It's not a good place to be when Facebook wants to stimulate more sharing.

I hope Facebook realizes the power of pseudonym and updates its Terms of Use.

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