Facebook has long stood apart from the rest of the Internet’s biggest social hubs by requiring a user’s real identity.
But the social media giant is caving in somewhat to the wave of anonymity that still pervades much of the Web with a new app that will let users interact without using real names, according to a report in the New York Times.
It will be a stand-alone app that will allow people to use pseudonyms to discuss topics “which they may not be comfortable connecting to their real names,” the report says.
There are still many things unclear about this new direction for Facebook. Among questions unanswered is how this app will work with existing friends or if photo sharing is allowed.
The report says the app will launch in coming weeks.
Recent controversies have focused on Facebook’s strict identity policies. After weeks of user protests, Facebook said last week that it would allow members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities to use names which they have adopted — even if those names are not their legal ones — to identify themselves on Facebook.
In a Facebook post, Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, said the company would modify its real-name policy in the future, though it was left unclear as to how Facebook would do so.
Facebook later apologized for how it handled the policy and promised to update its guidelines but didn’t provide specifics about what would change.
The reported new app that would allow anonymity could also have a health aspect, according to the report. An earlier report suggested the social network is working on a standalone health-focused app that will connect users suffering from the same health conditions to create a kind of support network.
Because of Facebook’s past problems with consumer privacy issues, such an app would likely work best by allowing users to post anonymously.