German court rules Facebook’s real name policy Is illegal

FILE – In this Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018, file photo, a man shows how he comes on his Facebook page as he works on his computer in a restaurant in Brasilia, Brazil. Facebook users will soon have more local news and more messages from friends and family as the company tries to give users more “meaningful social interactions,” as CEO Mark Zuckerberg said recently. (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres, File)

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Back in 2015, the Federation of German consumer organisations (VZBV) started a lawsuit against Facebook because of the default settings and conditions of the service presented to everyone who create an account. VZBV claimed they were in breach of consumer law. This week, a German court ruled that Facebook’s use of personal data is indeed illegal.

As The Verge reports, the verdict was in Berlin, a regional court that parts of the social network of the consent for use of data were invalid. Informed consent for the collection of personal data and the use are not sufficient to comply with the law. This includes the use of real names, which VZBV said the court regarded as a “hidden” way of obtaining the users consent for the sharing of their names.

As you would expect, Facebook is not ready to change its real name policy and is planning to appeal the decision. At the same time, the social network, changes made to comply with European Union privacy laws to be introduced in June. Facebook wants to comply with the law, but for the moment want to push it to its core policies, including the real name to use.

With respect to the default settings, the court was not happy with how some of them were presented without a user having made a clear choice. For example, the default location of a user is shared during chats. Facebook was also told use of personal information, including profile pictures is not allowed for “commercial, sponsored or related content.”

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We must not forget that, while Facebook strives to be your number one destination for interaction with friends and family, it is also a company to rely very heavily on advertising revenue. It must be our data, and the more you can collect, the more money can be made from advertising. The collection of data will not end, but it can be reduced in certain locations around the world.

Facebook is becoming more and more used to fight against consumer groups and government agencies focused on keeping personal information secure. At the end of last year France threatened to fine WhatsApp via Facebook share data, and only in the last month of the Facebook Messenger Children’s app was deemed “irresponsible”, because it was found to be “undermining children’s healthy development.” It is unlikely that such an action will stop, unless of course Facebook changes the way it collects data, presents options, and, of course, require real name use. There is also still the Russia-Linked ads revelations is hanging over the company.

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