Facebook just spent weeks banning users and battling back criticism against their misguided "real name" policy. So you wouldn't think that the company would be now embracing online anonymity. However, that's exactly what they've done.

The social network is preparing for the release of a new anonymous app which will enable users to interact with each other "without having to use their real names." The New York Times reports:

The app, which is expected to be released in the coming weeks, reveals a different, experimental take on Facebook's long-established approach to identity. Facebook has pushed its main site as a way to establish your online identity, and to map out the connections you have to other friends and family, both on and offline. [...]

The point, according to these people, is to allow Facebook users to use multiple pseudonyms to openly discuss the different things they talk about on the Internet; topics of discussion which they may not be comfortable connecting to their real names.

That's a quick change of heart! In September, Facebook spent most of the month forcing transgender people, immigrants, performers, and victims of abuse to use their "legal name" on the site. The company later apologized for the controversial policy, realizing many people have legitimate reasons to use pseudonyms and preferred names online.

It seems Facebook created the new app to fight competitors like Secret and Whisper, not to assuage upset users. But the last time they tried to release a clone of a rival, it was an anxious mess.

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Photo: Getty