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I've been participating in the engineering private beta this week and filled in the form in the sidebar to invite a friend.

I was very surprised to find out that my real name was sent to that person as the inviter instead of my display name. Is this on purpose and can it please be changed to display name only? I was under the impression that my real name would not be made available to the public. It was shared with SE under this assumption.

Please could you fully disclose under what circumstances is my real name shared and with whom?


I did it again with a dummy real name and it came up, so this is definitely where the name was taken from:

My real name in email screenshot


I believe this is against the Stack Exchange Privacy Policy.

'Personal information' is any information that we could use to identify an individual. It does not include personal information that is encoded or anonymized, or publicly available information that has not been combined with non-public information. We do not disclose personally identifying information other than as described below.

...

Notice will be provided in clear and conspicuous language when you are first asked to provide us with personal information, or as soon as practicable thereafter, and we’ll notify you before we use the information for something other than the purpose for which it was originally collected.

...

Here are some of the ways we may use personal information you provide us:

To allow you to register for our web sites, online communities and other services, and to administer and process those registrations

To communicate with you about our products, services and related issues

To evaluate the quality of our products and services, and to enhance your experience on our web sites

To help employers find or contact users who post profiles on the Careers site

To maintain and administer our web sites and comply with our legal or internal obligations and policies

To transfer information to others as described in this policy or to satisfy our legal, regulatory, compliance, or auditing requirements.

  • 3
    Are you 100% certain your real name is not listed in your friend's address book? Apple Mail for example will display the address book name if a from email address matches. Did your real name appear in the body of the email, for example? – Martijn Pieters Jan 25 '15 at 21:48
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    @MartijnPieters I tried it and it actually puts the real name into the mail body – Mad Scientist Jan 25 '15 at 21:53
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    Well, they assume whoever you invite is a friend of yours hence already knows your real name. So, don't think it's a big issue. Still +1 since this better get official stamp and be documented somewhere. :) – ShaWiz Jan 25 '15 at 21:56
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    It was a person I was friends with online, I wanted control over when I tell them my name. It's not a huge deal but very concerning nonetheless. – stanri Jan 25 '15 at 22:15
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    @Mad thanks for verifying. That does sound rather unexpected. – Martijn Pieters Jan 25 '15 at 22:24
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    @bluet actually I didn't put in my full name when I comitted. It populated my full name and I took out my surname. – stanri Jan 26 '15 at 3:34
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    This is not good. It's most likely an oversight. We're looking into it ASAP. – hairboat Jan 26 '15 at 14:33
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We agree this isn't ideal. You should now get (if logged in, and you have a real name specified that is not the same as your display name) a choice of which name to use for the invite. Additionally, it now defaults to the display name.

Sorry about that.

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This will be fixed real soon -- like today. We'll now allow you to choose which name to include in the invitation email. You'll hear from a developer here when the fix is going live.

update: it's aliiiive!

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    For me at least, there is now a radio button in the sidebar that lets you pick to use your screen name or your full name for inviting people. – Ethan48 Jan 26 '15 at 16:45

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