Nicknames: An Open Letter to a Salesforce Product Manager

This post is not only for the Communities Product Manager but to anyone that may be using Salesforce Communities products to date.

To give it some context, this refers to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) where as a data controller, a company using the Communities product (and/or any product really), has the responsibility to comply with the law and protect the identity of personal data held.

By the regulation personal data is defined as below when in a structured format:

Direct Identifiers

Online Identifiers

Indirect Identifiers


Contact Details

ID Number

Location Data

IP Address









Social Identity

More context which I think is worth mentioning is that I have been working with Salesforce Support since 28/01/2019 on the subject that I am about to describe. I should also mention that Communities do give the ability for external individuals to interact with internal.

Now, as a Data Controller you need to protect the personal data of individuals, whether those are internal and/or external users. At least giving the ability for a user to protect their identity, and today there’s a feature recommended for this: Nicknames

Enabling nickname display in your community allows more privacy and protects member identities. This protection is especially helpful in a public community where unregistered visitors can access member profiles.

Now in the knowledge articles it mentions that Nicknames appear in place of first and last names in almost all locations in the community. There are some exceptions, but I have also found a further 2 more:

  • Email Notification When a Question is Escalated into a Case.


  • Web App (browser) Notification When there is a Comment into a Question or the user gets @mentioned.


So even when this feature of Nicknames is enabled and the users have a nickname populated, in these two scenarios their full name will be revealed to the recipient.

After some work with the Salesforce Product Team and the Engineering team they have applied a ‘back end permission’ to the affected orgs I have highlighted, but not all orgs. However, there is NO documentation about this.

So if you are encountering this issue, do open a case and describe the above and ask for that ‘back end permission’ (there is not yet a formal name, although I do keep asking for one) to be enabled for you.

Whilst I continue the quest I am told it will be released in the upcoming Spring ’20 release for all orgs. So in the meantime above is the ‘why’ and the ‘what to do’ so that it can be referenced.

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