Drag queens plan to lead a demonstration outside Facebook’s Silicon Valley headquarters on Monday in response to the company’s “real name” policy.
Facebook has repeatedly stated its opposition to anonymous users and has suspended accounts when people do not use their officially recognised name. The policy has incited drag queens, transgender people, Native Americans, domestic violence survivors and others who do not use the names on their birth certificates to come together against the policy as part of the #MyNameIs coalition.
Currently, any user can report that another user is using a false identity. Some members of the #MyNameIs coalition believe they are targeted by malicious users who oppose their identity and behavior. “Facebook sides with those bullies,” said Sister Roma, one of the leaders of the effort to change the policy.
She and other opponents have met with Facebook multiple times to discuss the policy, including discussions with the company’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, and head of global policy management, Monika Bickert.
Drag queens challenged the social media giant last September after several received emails telling them that they must change their profiles to their “real names”. Cox subsequently apologized. But talks have since soured and the group believed the company is not moving quickly enough to address their concerns.
Facebook has adjusted its policy to create a more clear appeals process for people whose accounts have been suspended, and loosened the requirements for people who want to use their “authentic name” instead of their legal name. But the company has stated that a core element of its site is that it does not allow “anonymous” users.
“Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech,” the company said in a statement.
Those opposed to the policy think it is archaic and needs to be changed.
“Facebook is no longer a cool website started by a bunch of guys who want to chat each other and see chicks, and see who they are talking to,” said Sister Roma. “It’s changed – and it’s time for Facebook’s policies and original ideas to change, because users identities are as fluid as users themselves today.”
The protest is scheduled to begin at 11am, across the street from Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters. Demonstrators are going to demand that the company remove the fake name reporting option, stop verifying people with government identification and to develop a more clear appeals process.