• Germany's news in English
 
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

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)

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
Today's headlines
LG offices raided over suspected vandalism
A Sumsung washing machine. Photo: DPA

LG offices raided over suspected vandalism

South Korean prosecutors raided the Seoul headquarters of LG Electronics on Friday following allegations that the firm's executives vandalised their rival Samsung's washing machines at a trade fair in Germany, company officials said. READ  

Neuer cautious over Ballon d'Or prospects
Photo: DPA

Neuer cautious over Ballon d'Or prospects

Germany's World Cup winning goalkeeper Manuel Neuer on Friday played down his prospects of securing the World Player of the Year award over holder Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. READ  

News Feature
No Boxing Day football tradition for Germans
Germans football fans will have nothing to watch this Boxing Day Photo: DPA

No Boxing Day football tradition for Germans

Defying national stereotypes, it is British footballers who will be braving the freezing cold to take to the pitch on Boxing Day, whilst Germany's players are already sunning themselves on their winter break until the end of January. READ  

Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement
Demonstrators protest against PEGIDA. Photo: DPA

Germans hit back at anti-immigrant movement

Business leaders, the political class and average Germans are pushing back against a growing anti-immigrant movement, saying it threatens the values and image the country fought hard to establish since the war. READ  

German president urges refugee compassion
Photo: DPA

German president urges refugee compassion

Germany's president appealed in a Christmas message for compassion and openness towards refugees coming to the country, which is grappling with a growing anti-Islam movement. READ  

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon
A female homing pigeon. Photo: DPA

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon

A breeder in Düsseldorf has offered a €10,000 reward after thieves stole a homing pigeon worth €150,000 from his aviary. READ  

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit
The vestibule of the Schloss Charlottenburg, which reopens on Boxing Day Photo: DPA

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit

The royal palace of Fredrick the Great in Berlin is to fully reopen to visitors on Boxing Day after a 4.5 million euro refit. READ  

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad
Bertolt Brecht and his salad. Photo: DPA

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad

Bertolt Brecht's statue in front of the Berliner Ensemble theatre was splattered with potato salad by pranksters early on Tuesday morning, in a protest against supposed gentrification of the capital by wealthy southerners. READ  

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire
The ferris wheel at Alexa Christmas Market where a man fell to his death last week Photo: DPA

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire

A blaze at one of Berlin's biggest Christmas markets has caused locals to wonder if the place is cursed. READ  

JobTalk Germany: Entrepreneur series
'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'
Taulia co-founder Bertram Meyer. Photo: DPA

'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'

In our weekly feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Bertram Meyer, one of the four German co-founders of Taulia. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,185
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd