When Facebook changed the way it sends messages to its members, it may have also affected the way in which English is used in chat rooms and other places on the site. In the past, chat rooms were set up in languages selected by the user. Now, instead of picking a default language for a chat room, users have the option of choosing one and having that language appear as the default language for all messages. This change may sound odd to some who are used to Facebook using English as the default for all messages. But those who have been online long enough probably know how jarring this change can be.
The reason why Facebook changed the language settings on its site is to make it easier for people to communicate with each other. Messages are much clearer when they come in a different language. People can type without converting their text into whatever the equivalent word might be. In some cases, only parts of a sentence can be understood. This is because the new real names policy eliminates words such as “you” and “me.”
For example, let’s say that a person wanted to say to another person, “Mark is my brother.” In the olden days, the phrase would translate to “Mark is my brother in law.” Now, the phrase has been changed to “Mark is my brother in Facebook.” That is how Facebook changes the way it delivers its message across its community.
For the person using Facebook to communicate with friends overseas, this change means that any postings or messages to this extent must be made under the new language settings. These new language settings will require that people either accept the new language or else they will not see the postings. In other words, anyone who uses Facebook to communicate with friends and family overseas must accept the new language settings if they want to use the site to that extent. Failure to do so will result in a posting not being posted.
On a smaller scale, a business might want to change Facebook’s real name’s policy to require people using the social network to use their real names, even if they are using a stage name or nickname. For example, a pizza shop in New York City might want to request that all of the business’ real names be used. That way, employees will have a sense of identification, even if they are using a stage name or nickname. Similarly, restaurants in various locations throughout the United States could also request that all of their employees use their real names rather than pseudonyms.
The latest example that this particular topic elicited was a post by a drag performer named Ariel. In that post, Ariel complained that she was recently banned from a popular nightclub because her real name was posted on the building’s wall. She claimed that the ban was because her real name was visible to several people who enter the establishment by accident. Ariel also claimed that she was aware that some customers were seeing her real name, yet she posted it there anyway. According to Ariel, the reason for her posting was to “prevent misunderstandings and accidents.”
While it is impossible to know whether or not the recent banning of Ariel is related to Facebook’s real names policy, it does seem to fit into a larger trend of businesses requiring employees and volunteers to use their true names when participating in online activities. Businesses have long been hesitant to hire someone based solely on their first or middle name. As it turns out, this requirement extends beyond just job applicants and into online social network activity as well. It now appears to be applied to members of groups as well. This raises the question as to whether or not Facebook should change its policy to require users to use their real names.
The original post by Ariel has gone viral, garnering over 250k shares and causing quite a stir amongst social media users. Ariel has since deleted her original story and shared a follow-up post that includes a longer explanation of her story and reasons for changing her name. As with any high profile social network story, it is entirely possible that other users may come forward with similar complaints about being required to use their real names on Facebook; if you have personally been required to use your real name on Facebook you should definitely share this story with others who have had the same experience. If you haven’t checked your spam folder recently, you may want to do so just to make sure that no one else has used your personal information to gain access to your account.