BGH judgment on the real name requirement: Facebook must allow pseudonyms

BGH judgment on the real name requirement: Facebook must allow pseudonyms


The Federal Court of Justice has decided that users on Facebook must provide their real name to Facebook. However, they are then permitted to use a pseudonym.

The background to this decision was the lawsuit filed by two Facebook users. You had registered with a false name on the Facebook platform. Facebook then blocked the accounts and referred to its terms and conditions. According to this, every user must register with their real name or with the name that they use in everyday life. After the two plaintiffs failed to comply with the request to change their names, Facebook blocked their profiles.

The network suspended the accounts of a man and a woman in 2018. Facebook justified this by saying that the two violated the terms of use by using fantasy names and that both of them had not complied with Facebook’s request to change their profile names

Both plaintiffs argued that they had a right to anonymity. After all, nowadays anyone who expresses an unwelcome opinion must reckon with a pinnacle. They also pointed to employers who now search Facebook when you receive an application. The plaintiffs therefore have an interest in being able to express their opinions anonymously.

The Federal Court of Justice ruled in favor of the two plaintiffs (Federal Court of Justice, judgment of January 27, 2022, Az. III ZR 3/21 and III ZR 4/21). These should have the right to appear on Facebook with pseudonyms, i.e. fantasy names. The Munich Higher Regional Court had agreed with Facebook.

Note: the two judgments of the Federal Court of Justice were based on an already outdated legal situation. It is disputed whether one has a right to fancy names due to the current legal situation.