Weeks after Facebook deactivated "several hundred" accounts belonging to drag queens and other LGBTQ users, the company has faced continued scrutiny over the reason for those delistings: the site's real name policy, which requires users to identify themselves on the site by using a name on a driver's license or credit card. Last week, the company's course-reversal and lengthy apology over the matter hinted at bigger changes to come, and a report on Tuesday pointed to that change coming in the form of an entirely new app.
According to sources close to The New York Times, Facebook has been developing a "stand-alone mobile application" for "the past year" that doesn't require logging in or interacting with a real name. Those sources claimed the app would launch "in the coming weeks," and its development has been led by a team that joined Facebook in January after the company acquired Branch, whose apps and software revolved around community and conversation services.
The Times' report was unable to clarify how the app would connect to Facebook's services, going so far as to imply that it may not be part of Facebook's content ecosystem at all (though it's hard to imagine Facebook launching an entirely new, anonymous social network that mimics the likes of 4chan). The report's sources hinted that the app may connect specifically to health-community offerings, as well. Ultimately, any such product would have to balance the positives of Facebook's real-name policies, particularly cutting down on anonymous spam and abuse, while still somehow allowing users to engage in "topics of discussion which they may not be comfortable connecting to their real names."
When reached for comment, a Facebook representative told Ars Technica that "we do not comment on rumors or speculation."