There's finally a way to know whether the Katy Perry you follow on Facebook is the real Katy Perry or a 45-year-old man in Florida. Sort of.
According to TechCrunch, on Thursday Facebook began rolling out account verification and pesudonyms to celebrities, the internet famous and people who just have a lot of subscribers.
As with Twitter and Google+, both of which verify celebrity accounts, Facebook verification is by invitation only. There is no way for us regular folk to request a verified account.
However, while Google+ and Twitter both demarcate which celebrity accounts have been confirmed as real by displaying a checkmark next to the accountholder's name, there will be no indication to users as to which Facebook accounts have been verified and which have not.
Facebook is giving prominent users an incentive to verify their accounts as it will increase the frequency with which verified accounts show up on suggested "people to subscribe to" lists and will make them appear higher in searches, reports Gizmodo.
Although Facebook already allowed all users to include maiden names and real names in different languages in their profile information, on Thursday it will begin allowing the use of pseudonyms by those with verified accounts, notes Tech Crunch. For example, Jay-Z whose real name is Shawn Carter, can choose to display his name as Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) or just Jay-Z, although his given name would still appear on his timeline's about page.
Facebook has recently come under fire for its real names policy. In November, Booker Prize winning author Salman Rushdie, who goes by his middle name instead of his first name Ahmed, was flabbergasted when Facebook suspended his account due to the name discrepancy. He wrote on his (ahem, verified) Twitter account, "Amazing. 2 days ago FB deactivated my page saying they didn't believe I was me. I had to send a photo of my passport page. THEN..."
Within an hour of Rushdie's irate tweets, Facebook gave in and restored his profile name to Salman, reported The Huffington Post.
Facebook isn't the only social network to loosen up on its name policy. In January, Google+ announced that it would be revising its real names policy by allowing some alternate names to be incorporated into users' profiles. While maiden names and names in other scripts would be accepted without question, Google said it would be evaluating "established pseudonyms" on a case by case basis and would require documentation that the pseudonym was actually part of the petitioner's identity before accepting it.
Take a look at the screenshots (below) for a look at some of the steps in the verification process.
SUBMITTING YOUR ACCOUNT ID FOR VERIFICATION: