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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Local Drag Queens Meet with Facebook over "Real Name" Policy Today (Update)

Posted By on Wed, Sep 17, 2014 at 12:34 PM

  • Jose A. Guzman Colon / CVNewspaper /
Update, 4:35 p.m.: According to Supervisor David Campos, who has strongly pushed the #MyNameIs campaign, Facebook didn't agree to any policy changes today. He suggests there might be another meeting down the line.

A small army of San Francisco drag queens — including Sister Roma, Heklina, BeBe SweetBriar, and Lil Miss Hot Mess — are at Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters as we type hashing out the company's "real name" policy, which has turned into a Dragnet-style eradication of drag performer accounts.

Sadly, the meeting is closed to the public, though Lil Miss Hot Mess assures there will be some great photo opportunities. "Or at least we're picking our outfits with this in mind!" she chirps in an upbeat press release.

In the weeks since Facebook instituted its new prohibition against nicknames and stage handles, drag queens say they've been systematically disappeared from the social network, along with millions of others who, for one reason or another, want to conceal their "legal" surnames. In response, they've staged a mass Twitter protest with the hashtag #MyNameIs, arguing that everyone should have a right to create his or her online identity.
They've been joined by all variety of privacy advocates, avatar-lovers, and sympathizers. Most argue that the right to control one's online persona is a civil liberty; others cite common-sense reasons to keep real names private, such as avoiding an unwanted suitor or domestic abuser, or staving off a nosy employer.

Facebook has argued that the real-name rule is a security measure, meant so that all users know who their connections are. But that explanation hasn't gone over so well in the social media universe that Facebook helped create, which seems to encourage self-invention.

We'll keep you posted on how the debate shakes out today.

Update from Supervisor David Campos:

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About The Author

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan

Rachel Swan was a staff writer at SF Weekly from 2013 to 2015. In previous lives she was a music editor, IP hack, and tutor of Cal athletes.


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