Facebook crosses line by deleting drag queen accounts

State Hornet

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Facebook has been shutting down the profiles of drag queens and other performers who use stage names as their account name and not their birth names.

Facebook claims the owners of the profiles did not comply with the site’s requirements that users go by their “real names” on their profiles.

Wrong, Facebook. Users should have the right to use the name they identify with.

Looking through the popular social network, there are plenty of profiles displaying jumbled names to hide from potential employers and even combined names of couples who share one profile.

“Abused women, bullied teens, transgendered people… there are a million different people with a million different reasons to use fake names,” said Sister Roma, one of the drag queens battling with Facebook over its policy.

According to an article by The Associated Press, drag queens and others in the LGBTQ community say many Facebook account holders are afraid to use their real names for reasons including threats to their safety and employment.

It is a reasonable fear. Hate crimes and bullying are prevalent on social media and Facebook users deserve the right to protect themselves and their identities.

The policy is a slap in the face to those who feel comfortable identifying themselves with a name other than the one on their birth certificate.

The Facebook rule does not recognize there are people who identify with their display name on and off social media.

Sister Roma is a member of San Francisco’s Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a charity and street performance organization. She has been using her stage name on and off the Internet and even has friends who know her only as Sister Roma. In order to regain access, Facebook required her to change her display name to “Michael Williams,” her legal name.

Sister Roma recently posted in a Facebook status saying the policy was “unfair, hurtful, discriminatory and an invasion of privacy”. Indeed, it is.

There needs to be exceptions to the rule.

Apparently, this is not the first time users have criticized Facebook’s “real name” policy.

The AP explained even political activists have complained about the policy, some who are living in countries where they could face danger if their real identities are revealed.

Michael Anti, a Chinese blogger and activist, had his profile deleted in 2011 because he was not using his given name, Zhao Jing. His professional identity is one that has been established for over a decade.

Facebook needs to consider how their “real name” policy affects the lives of other people. In some cases, using a stage name or pseudonym protects an individual’s safety. In other cases, it allows them to be their true selves.

It is time for Facebook to recognize these individuals and rethink the “real name” policy.