Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) is under fire today from Germany, which has a law giving its citizens the right to utilize pseudonyms while they’re online. Germany’s data protection commissioner in Schleswig-Holstein state issued a decree pushing Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) to allow its users to use pseudonyms. It is likely that the data protection commissioners in Germany’s other states will follow suit.
Privacy Commissioner Thilo Weichert issued a statement saying, “It is unacceptable that a U.S. portal like Facebook violates German data protection law unopposed and with no prospect of an end.” Weichert also said the decree issued in Schleswig-Holstein state is just a primary move that’s designed to see how Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) would react to it.
Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) said it would “vigorously” fight the decree because its real name policy is in compliance with data protection rules in Europe. The social media giant has two weeks to respond to the decree in court. Facebook has said that it requires users to sign up with their real names because it aims to build security and trust among its users. Facebook tested a feature recently that made it possible to report users who did not use their real name on the site.
As social networking has grown, there have been other concerns about the use of real names on these sites. Google+ actually suspended accounts in 2011 if the user was suspected of using a pseudonym. Also YouTube has tried to get its users to use their real names in hopes that the comments listed on the videos posted on the site might become less hateful.