Facebook is forcing its users to use their genuine names for their profile but not everyone is willing to abide by the rule. Drag queens see potential problems with the social network’s policy and have taken the matter to petitions and on another platform – on Twitter.
A group of transgender performers and drag queens have been trying to get Facebook’s attention to allow them to keep their stage names instead of their genuine names on the site.
A petition was made to support the change and has so far gathered over 2,000 signatures. The group of performers wants to retain their stage names for preference, safety, or privacy reasons.
However, the social network giant remains firm on its real-name policy that, according to the company, has helped create a safer environment. The company also added that the policy is for the protection of the community and made to increase accountability.
Performer Olivia La Garce from Seattle started the petition which claims that the stage names are an important part of their identities, personally and to the communities as well. The petition further added that the stage names are what they are called by others and themselves.
The group also appeals that they have used the names they have chosen for themselves to build an audience, community, and networks and forcing them to switch back to their real names again after years of using stage names has brought nothing but pain and confusion.
In Twitter, Sister Roma, a performer from San Francisco, started the hashtag #mynameisroma after he couldn’t log into his Facebook account until he had to use the name Michael Williams. The hashtag was aimed at raising awareness of the matter.
The internet is a great place for everyone to meet. It’s also a reminder that not everyone appears to be what they seem. However, Facebook’s real-name policy is not only what it appears to be at first glance – transparency and openness. The policy is also about business.
Facebook’s ad product relies mostly on the company’s ability to collect accurate and detailed info about its users. The advertising product is expected to generate revenue of about $12 billion this year. To maintain the quality of that information is a constant hurdle for the social network since an estimate of 11.2% of the network’s 1.32 billion user accounts use different names and identities or even fake accounts that are used for spamming.
Facebook says that there are alternative options for drag queens and other performers to be able to use their stage names – to put an alias with their real name on their profile or create a Fan Page for the alternative identity – options that the drag queens are not very keen on using.
Sister Roma said that he does not like to have a fan page as he is not a celebrity like Britney Spears and that because he has friends, not fans.
Facebook’s real-name policy is also affecting more popular celebrities like Lady Gaga, whose real name, Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, was merged with her fan page.