Over 1 billion people a month use Facebook, and as that number continues to grow, so do the opportunities for a certain type of online harassment: identity theft. But the social network is testing a way to stop these impersonators by alerting users if it detects another account with the same name profile photo.
According to Mashable, this notification process is automated. Whenever Facebook identifies an account that matches your own, you’ll be asked to confirm whether or not it’s an impersonator by using your personal information.
In addition to checking with the suspected victim of this identity theft, the Facebook team will manually review any flagged accounts before taking action. The feature, which the company has been testing since November, is now available to around 75 percent of users worldwide, and will soon expand to cover everyone else.
Impersonating someone on Facebook isn’t allowed as it falls under the social network’s real names policy. The controversial rule means people can’t use pseudonyms or anything other than their real name when signing up for an account.
Facebook’s Head of Global Safety, Antigone Davis, says the new feature is partly aimed at protecting women on the platform. Facebook has been holding roundtable talks aimed at addressing privacy and safety issues faced by the women who use the service.
“We heard feedback prior to the roundtables and also at the roundtables that this was a point of concern for women,” Davis told Mashable. “And it’s a real point of concern for some women in certain regions of the world where it [impersonation] may have certain cultural or social ramifications.”
Facebook is also introducing other safety features to the site, including new ways of reporting non-consensual intimate images – often referred to as revenge porn. It’s also testing a new way of reporting nudity; anyone who flags an image will now have the ability to identify themselves as the subject of the photo. Doing so will be provided with links to support groups and be provided with potential legal options.