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Behind the Facebook DRAG QUEEN CRACKDOWN: 'Anonymity soon!'

Demands ultimate control over fake IDs

+Comment Facebook is reportedly planning to release an app that will allow its users to hide their identity behind anonymous profiles.

The apparent policy shift comes just weeks after drag artists in New York complained that the free content ad network was forcing them to ditch their stage names on the service.

However, it's more likely that Facebook's recent attempt to flush out some pseudonyms on its site could in fact be linked to its forthcoming app.

According to the New York Times, Facebook developers are beavering away at a stand-alone app for mobile devices that is expected to be unveiled within the next few weeks.

Mark Zuckerberg said earlier this year that his company planned to release apps that were separate from its main network, yet still knitted into the the fabric of its service in some way – much like Messenger.

Put another way, the apps are being developed to address markets such as SMS, allowing Facebook to process yet more data about its users.

An app for anon users may present some difficulties, however. It's unclear, for example, how it might link into the main Facebook site. The ad giant recently said that it planned to adjust its real-name policy, following the hubbub around the drag queen community in New York. But that is yet to be unveiled. Might it coincide with the reported anon app? Perhaps.

As noted by the NYT, it was separately rumoured last weekend that Facebook was flirting with the idea of building an app for the health community.

Fake IDs for users talking about embarrassing ailments might be one of the reasons behind Facebook's shift into pseudo territory. Even though the network – despite the image it tries to present – has its fair share of spammers, cats and dogs masquerading as real people on the site.

Zuck and Co clearly want silos within its massive data-slurping silo. The end result will undoubtedly be to please its real customers: admen. But the idea of an anon app spun out of Facebook seems quite fanciful to this scribe. It sounds as though the network wants more control of fake IDs so that it can have a much clearer picture of the types of people who, for a variety of reasons, don't want to provide their real names.

Before now, no one has declared to Facebook their intent to operate anonymously on the site, through fear of being barred from the network. By asking people to download such an app, people who don't wish to reveal their identity to the world online can probably still expect to see some of their personal details – such as mobile phone number and contacts – being zapped back to Zuck's mothership. ®


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