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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Facebook Apologizes to Drag Queens for "Real Name" Policy (Update)

Posted By on Wed, Oct 1, 2014 at 10:30 AM

click to enlarge drag.png
Update, 12:13 p.m.: Facebook has, indeed, made its apology official. According to a press statement from Supervisor David Campos, it is working to remove language that requires users to divulge their legal names.

The City Hall protest is still on for tomorrow at noon, though it will be more of a celebratory rally, Harvey Milk Club President Tom Temprano assures us.

Original Story:

Facebook has evidently caved under pressure from the LGBT community, and may issue an apology later today for its controversial "real name" policy, sources tell Valleywag

Yet the company has stopped short of offering to rescind the rule, which bans users from creating a profile under any name that isn't tied to a credit card. In August, Facebook began systematically deleting any page flagged with a fake name, stage handle, or avatar. Not surprisingly, drag queens, whose names tend to be particularly flashy and campy, got caught in the crosshairs of this Dragnet-style operation corporate reorganization.

The LGBT community struck back with a series of protests — mostly carried out on social networks — and held a meeting with Facebook's PR corps at the company's Menlo Park headquarters. In September, drag queens and their allies began a mass exodus to the new anti-corporate social network Ello, whose co-founder, Paul Budnitz, told SF Weekly he's now getting about 45,000 new users an hour, six weeks after launching the site in Beta.

Budnitz believes that Facebook's reasons for the "real name" policy are mercenary, rather than discriminatory. Because the company scrapes user data in order to sell ads, it works more effectively if it knows everyone's real name and purchasing habits. "So you're worth a lot more money to them," Budnitz says.

Facebook insists that its rule "helps prevent bad behavior," including impersonation and hate speech.

Valleywag reports that Facebook will first apologize in a private meeting with a coalition of drag queens, LGBT activists, and Supervisor David Campos. We are still waiting on confirmation from the social network, though an activist confirmed that the meeting just started.

In the meantime, activists have planned a protest this Thursday at City Hall. For details, check Facebook

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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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