It has long been Facebook policy that users must use their real names. Founder Mark Zuckerberg says that this is essential for the open, generous climate he’s trying to foster; for him, aliases go against the purpose of social media. He may have a point, but he’s also trying to make money by matching identities to consumer behavior.
The real names policy has always been loosely enforced — until now. In the past week, a number of Facebook and Instagram users have been locked out of their accounts and prompted by the services to upload images of government-issued ID in order to regain access. Facebook confirmed that the services are attempting to ‘validate’ accounts in response to suspected Terms of Service violations.
For Facebook itself, the meaning is clear; the affected users are thought to use aliases. But sister site Instagram has no real name rule, and it’s unclear why identity checks are being carried out there. It’s also unknown if Instagram will move to a real name policy in the future.
To our knowledge, business pages have not yet been affected by the move. We advise you to think carefully before sharing your government-issued ID with anyone.