Facebook Apologizes For Real Name Policy
As a result of a viral campaign against Facebook‘s ‘Real Name’ Policy, the company is retracting its controversial requirement that users obtain profiles only using their legal name.
Lil Miss Hot Mess, a drag queen and LGBT activist, says the policy forced her to remove an invisible wall between her life as a performer and otherwise. She explains, "It’s not like I’m hiding from the world, but it’s important for me to keep these identities separate." The battle against Facebook’s policy was faced in the media by Lil Miss Hot Mess, fellow drag queen and LGBT activist Sister Roma–both San Francisco-based, as well as David Campos, a member of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
In an interview with the New York Times, Sister Roma explains, "There are a million people on Facebook who use chosen and protective names for a million good reasons." What Facebook viewed as a totally logical plan to target personal accountability in the age of celeb fakers and online bullying, actually discriminated against people with an identity removed from their birth-given name. In fact, much of the audience discriminated by the policy–largely, but not exclusively, made up of drag queens, drag kings, and members of the transgender community-is more themselves with their "non-legal name" than they are otherwise. Sister Roma continues, "There are millions of users who do not have a legal form of identification that proves their true identity." According to the same interview, the group met with executives at Facebook early in September and they were less than helpful.
Today, the social media site announced a final decision allowing profiles with any "authentic name [used] in real life." Chief product officer of Facebook Chris Cox explained in a statement on his personal Facebook page, "The spirit of [our new policy] is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess."
Facebook’s updated policy is exactly the just outcome we hoped for. But from a PR standpoint, it also saved them from losing a hoard of users allegiant to the LGBT and drag queen and king community to more progressive platforms like Ello. Even if Facebook remains a black hole of rant-y statuses and baby announcements, it will be all the better for having Lil Miss Hot Messes and Sister Romas to bring a little light.