Students’ Union Facebook profiles disappear over Facebook policy change

University of Lincoln Students' Union building

The Students’ Union has fallen victim to Facebook’s new “real names” policy (Photo: Gregor Smith)

The official Facebook profiles of three Students’ Union sabbatical officers disappeared over the weekend as a Facebook policy change came into effect.

The official accounts of the SU President, VP Activities, and VP Welfare and Community (aka Ulsu Pres, Ulsu Activities, and Ulsu Welfare) are used for the SU to communicate with members, as well as for the officers to take questions and concerns from students.

Yet they fell victim to a Facebook policy change at the weekend, as the social network clamped down on profiles without ‘real names’.

Facebook guidelines, which were updated last month, clarify: “Profiles are for individual use only. We offer Pages for professional personas, organizations and businesses.”

Communications Officer at the University of Lincoln Students’ Union, Scott McGinn, committed to resuming normal service as quickly as possible.

He said: “We were given no warning that this would happen by Facebook.

“Students’ ability to communicate with their officers is, of course, of top priority to the Union, so I am in the process of looking into this issue.

“Officers are, as always, available on via their Twitter accounts and on email.”

At the time of writing, two of the profiles – that of the SU President and VP Welfare and Community – were available as ‘like’ pages rather than personal profiles. The official profile of the VP Academic Affairs (Ulsu Academ) has so far managed to escape the site’s policy change.

The change has also caused consternation in scenarios far wider than the Students’ Union – including an online revolt of drag queens and transgender people.

Chris Cox, Chief Product Officer at Facebook, apologised in a post on the network: “We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.

“The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail,” he explained.

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