Facebook is testing a new feature where users can create and manage as many as five different, linked profiles on the site. One will need to stay under the user’s real name and identity (to the extent that Facebook requests verification). However, the other four could be listed under a fake name or nickname as long as that identifier is unique and doesn’t contain numbers or special characters). Currently, the option is only available to a select test group, but it could be coming to everyone on the platform soon.
The possible future feature was first reported by Bloomberg on Thursday, and then confirmed by the company to multiple media outlets. Facebook explained some of the details of the ongoing test to Gizmodo via email.
“To help people tailor their experience based on interests and relationships, we’re testing a way for people to have more than one profile tied to a single Facebook account,” wrote Facebook spokesperson, Leonard Lam.
In other words: Different profiles could be employed to help tailor a Facebook user’s social media presence to suit difference audiences and curate media based around different content. For instance: three distinct profiles for friends, family, and co-workers. But certain features, like Facebook Dating and making a page, will be restricted to users’ primary accounts.
Further details from the company include:
- Additional profiles will be displayed with an @ symbol before the username, distinguishing them from primary profiles.
- Some settings will be customizable between profiles like photo tag settings, but others like language and ad preferences will be static across someone’s whole account.
- Each linked profile will require starting a “friends” list from scratch, but each list will have the capacity to be totally distinct.
Multiple profiles is a concept already well established on other social media platforms, like Instagram (also owned by Meta). The thirst traps and memes are kept sequestered away from the earnest self-promotion and/or professional content.
But Gizmodo has already identified one key issue with the new feature: Facebook already starts with an ‘F’. So, the fake account ‘Finsta’ portmanteau doesn’t translate. You can’t refer to your alternate profile(s) as a F-Facebook(s). Maybe a Fage? a Frofile?
Regardless of what term takes off, the company says all profiles on the site will need to abide by their existing terms and conditions. Linked accounts will all face consequences if one among the group violates a rule, and all accounts will tie back to a user’s primary account. Notably, using a fake account to impersonate someone else is still a violation of Facebook policy. There will also be additional policies for the extra profiles.
The shift towards multiple profiles is a big one for Facebook, which has historically barred standard users from holding multiple accounts under one identity. But it’s an apparent move to try to attract younger people back to the platform. Or simply, more people. Earlier this year, Facebook’s number of daily active users declined for the first time in the company’s history. However, the company told Bloomberg that the change won’t alter how it calculates user totals, and that it will still only count and report primary profiles.
Update 7/15/2022, 12:59 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional information from Facebook.