Facebook will meet with LGBT community members over ‘real names only’ controversy

When you find yourself in a drag queen’s bad books, you know you’ve seriously slipped up, so it might be time for Facebook to re-examine its life choices.

Last week, anyone not using their legal name to access the site was suspended from logging on. As Mashable reports, drag queen Sister Roma was one of the first to flag this up. She made a series of frustrated Facebook posts after having to change her site ID to a name she hasn’t used in years.

This is oppressive enough, but transgender people and others who don’t want to be identified by their given names (including abuse survivors, stalking victims, and anyone else who only feels free to communicate under a pseudonym) also have to choose between outing themselves or risking suspension. UNLIKE. The hashtag #mynameis started trending on Twitter and a Change.org petition for Zuck and co. to let performers use personas has 17,988 signatures and counting.

Facebook has so far refused to back down, pointing out that people have the option of adding a nickname or alternative name to their profile or creating a fan page for a persona. But they’re missing the point that for some people, their given name doesn’t reflect who they are anymore, while for others, it may actually not be safe to use it. Today, the site’s reps will meet with San Francisco politician (and lawyer) David Campos and other members of the local LGBT community to discuss the policy, and Sister Roma will bring testimonies from supporters about how the new restrictions affect them.

This row is particularly ironic given that Facebook looked like a beacon of gender inclusivity and acceptance back in June when it unveiled a wide range of gender options to choose from – 70 in the UK. ‘It’s all about Facebook enabling people to be themselves, and making users feel comfortable in how they express themselves,’ the site’s UK policy director Simon Milne said back then. If I were more cynical, I’d probably think that they only say such things for PR and don’t really care about the needs of oppressed minorities, but I’m sure that couldn’t be case. Right, FB?

Image via Pixabay.

Want to read more? Here’s our coverage of the recent Apple announcements, including everything you need to know about Apple’s ‘phablet’, the iPhone 6 Plus, and smartwatches buying guide, or if you’re sick of Apple completely, here’s our rundown of our 14 favourite dating apps, from Tinder to eHarmony.

Diane Shipley

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