Facebook's stance on real names drew criticism recently, and it looks like the social network is leaping vigorously in the other direction. Sources within the company told the New York Times that Facebook plans to release an app that would let people talk anonymously.

The company is working on a stand-alone mobile application that allows users to interact inside of it without having to use their real names, according to two people briefed on Facebook's plans, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the project.

With anonymous messaging apps like Whisper and Secret continuing to grow and grab users away from Facebook, and upstart social network Ello pointedly allowing pseudonymity, it makes sense that the company would jump into the anonymous posting game.

Earlier this year, Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would branch out from real-name apps. "I definitely think we're at the point where we don't need to keep on only doing real identity things," he said in an interview. "If you're always under the pressure of real identity, I think that is somewhat of a burden."

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Sources identified product manager Josh Miller as the app's leader. It'll be interesting to see how Facebook manages to guard against trolling, and whether the app will offer us anything new or be an unoriginal disaster like Slingshot. Facebook has a sneaky tendency to rip off apps it can't buy, and it'll have to offer something beyond a watered-down Whisper knockoff to convince people to download yet another Facebook app on their phone.

Then again, there's no confirmation that this is even happening for sure. ""We do not comment on rumors or speculation," a Facebook spokesperson told me. [NYTimes]

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