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Data official attacks real name Facebook policy
Photo: DPA

Data official attacks real name Facebook policy

Published: 20 Dec 2012 12:27 GMT+01:00
Updated: 20 Dec 2012 12:27 GMT+01:00

German data protection advocate Thilo Weichert has launched an offensive on Facebook's core "real name" policy, demanding that users should be allowed anonymous profiles.

An outspoken Facebook critic and data protection commissioner for Schleswig-Holstein, Weichert recently wrote to Mark Zuckerberg, telling the social network's CEO that he had two weeks to meet his demands and grant Germans the option of opening an account under a pseudonym.

If the Irish subsidy company responsible for European Facebook profiles fails to comply, the network would be hit with a €20,000 fine. Demanding real names was, Weichert said, an “unacceptable” violation of the country's teleservices law.

A €20,000 payout might not be much for a company with a 2011 revenue of over $3.7 billion, but Facebook seems to have registered Weichert's request and on Thursday hit back, saying that their "real name policy" was an integral part of making the network safe.

"We think that the decree is unfounded and a waste of German tax money," a Facebook spokesman said. “Using true identities brings about a feeling of safety from which our users benefit.”

But Weichert disagreed, telling daily newspaper Die Welt, "The reasons that Facebook gives for demanding real names are a pretext." He said Facebook actually needs the real identities to make more money from advertising.

"I expect that if we are successful, other countries in Europe will follow suit," he told the paper.

This was not Weichert first attack on the social network's business model – last year he launched an offensive against the site's “Like” button, asking for it to be removed for certain users in Schleswig-Holstein.

DPA/The Local/jcw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

13:49 December 20, 2012 by grinners
Perhaps we should first change Thilo's name to Peter. See how that roles
14:12 December 20, 2012 by Berlin fuer alles
How can facebook force you to use your real name anyway? When registering one can give any name one wants. There is no id check. If FB start to ID check it will take them decades to go through all their users.
14:38 December 20, 2012 by lucksi
20k? Yes, that will teach em. That is a huge fine for someone who makes 30 or 40k a year.

Shame that 20k is supposed to be a huge fine for everybody, like Baron cut and paste who paid 20k (or 0.003% of his networth) to stop an investigation. And 20k if you make billions is just laughable.

I would just fly to Mr Weichert in my fleet of private jets and throw it at his feet (because throwing it in his face is probably assault or some crap) then shake my junk in his general direction and laugh all the while. Also, I would film it and put it on youtube. And put out a PR statement that we are so deeply sorry if the data protection guy took the TOS the wrong way.

Not a FB fan btw.

Too bad we don't have bigger bills than 500€. Or you could just hand him a 50k bill and tell him to keep the change. *looks up what gold Krugerrands go for right now*
17:09 December 20, 2012 by raandy
True enough you do not have to give your real ID, but if your into social networking ,accepting friends and all you do.

People in my opinion put way to much personnel info out there, don't forget this will remain out there for years, your profile may be viewed by future employers, school officials ,as well as identity thieves, spammers, and stalkers.People think because there is no physical interaction,that there is some anonymity, and security.Mostly we tailor this info for friends and family often forgetting just about anyone can read it.

I am no fan of facebook, although I maintain a phony ID and profile just to save time signing into many web sites.I get very few friend request.

Sharing info can be problematic ,it can reveal something about you that you¦#39;d rather your current or future employer or school administrator not know, and second, it can put your personal safety and the safety of your family at risk.
19:49 December 20, 2012 by The-ex-pat
At the end of the day, would you really want to be "friends" with Sugglypuss578 or Luvbunny, or Judgedread....................

FB should shut down all German IP's or what ever they have and then let the people decide if Weichert is correct or as I suspect, just self important.............
21:22 December 20, 2012 by McM
Maybe this guy is lobbying for president of the troll protection society.

If you don't want to use your own name on a social network site like FB and can't think your way around it don't join. 

It's social network site not a nanny center for insecure identity crisis management. If you join the social media army and its mega market environment expect to be shot at. 
23:15 December 20, 2012 by chicagolive
I actually have no issue with people using real names, I honestly think you should use your real name in a site like facebook. Which man purpose is promoting the ability to connect with friends and family members no matter where you are in the world.
09:41 December 21, 2012 by hankeat
Do you notice that they always criticise American websites and never criticise German websites? I believe it is pure envy.
10:37 December 21, 2012 by Raydoggy
Facebook would have been the Stasi's wet dream, like it is for the CIA and probably the BND when it moves to Berlin. Anyone who uses their right name on Facebook, deserves what the future holds in store for them. By the way, don't give me that crap about "if you've got nothing to hide...", Communist members in the USA in the 50's didn't think they had anything to hide, but Senator McCarthy sure did while doing the dirty work for the multinational capitalists. All I'm saying is that what you think is quite acceptable, and who you associate with you deem acceptable, doesn't mean the next equivalent of the Stasi will. Wake up!!!
21:03 December 21, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@Raydoggy

You are right and people should be terrified. The best is that former StaSi head Markus Wolf, head of the GDR`s foreign intelligence service, (Hauptverwaltung Aufklärung), was employed for 3 years as an adviser to Homeland Security, so you can imagine what is coming in the U.S.. Think about that. What kind of Bizarro World are we living in when something like that can happen without so much as a headline in the MSM in the U.S. or in Germany?

From the article linked below, American Stasi:

"The captured Stasi files on East Germans are 65 miles long, excluding 16,000 sacks of shredded documents that are being reconstructed. The American Stasi's files will be, for all practical purposes, infinite, because of the advances in technology and information storage."

http://www.lewrockwell.com/blog/lewrw/archives/128662.html

The Lives of Others?
04:59 January 8, 2013 by sofiasamme
German information protection advocate Thilo Weichert has launched Associate in Nursing offensive on Facebook's core "real name" policy, demanding that users ought to be allowed anonymous profiles. The Local's English-language flick listings for European nation. http://tinyurl.com/a5qsk6k
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