Facebook apologizes to drag queens and LGBT community over real-name controversy

SHAFAQNA –  Facebook has apologised to its transgender and drag queen users, after suspending a number of their accounts under a policy that required people to use their “real” names. The social network provoked an outcry from members of the LGBT community in recent weeks after it locked out users for operating pages under their stage names, such as Sister Roma and Lil Miss Hot Mess. “I want to apologise to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbours, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks,” wrote Chris Cox, Facebook’s chief product officer, in a blog post after meeting activists on Wednesday.

He said that “the spirit of our 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.”

The accounts have been temporarily restored, but Mr Cox clarified that Facebookwould not change its policy of requiring people to sign up with the names that they use in everyday life.

To date, Facebook has asked people holding accounts that have been flagged for potential breaches of its name policy to submit a form of ID, such as a gym membership card, library card or piece of mail.

“Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life,” he said.

Sister Roma, a drag queen and activist in San Francisco, who was present at the meeting with Facebook, wrote on her Facebook page, that “[w]hile we could not get them to budge on the actual policy they did seem more open to considering that there are flaws in the complaint review process”.

She added that “[c]onversations with LGBT employees of Facebook after the meeting left me feeling a little more hopeful. They hinted that this issue has been raised internally and there have been heated debates on both sides of the legal name policy. We definitely have allies working ‘on the inside’”.

The recent uproar has given a boost to Ello, a new advertising-free social network that has attracted former Facebook users who have been turned off by the name policy. Ello allows people to sign up under any name and says it is currently receiving 40,000 requests an hour.

Source : http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/284e9f1c-4a1b-11e4-bc07-00144feab7de.html#axzz3EySv6ZtQ

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