Facebook has been cracking down on the use of stage names on their site and have been locking people out until they change their name. The social media site is requiring people to use their real identities or legal names in order to keep an account with them. A spokesperson for the company says that if an individual wants to use an alternative name on the website then they have other options available to them. These options include having their alias under their actual name on the profile or creating a fan page that is specifically designed for the professional name.
This is not the first time a social media group has required performers and other users to give their legal name in order to access their site. Google Plus required users to only use their given names in order to have an account. There was a public outcry from users and by January 2012, Google Plus’ policy was changed to allow established pseudonyms to be used. The policy for Google allowed people with a following, or those who can prove both of their identities, to use a stage name when using their service.
Unfortunately, Facebook has not taken the same measures in regard to performers and their stage names. Instead, they are standing firm against the use of an assumed identity. A spokesperson for the social media site says that by requiring a real name they are creating a safer online environment. Facebook believes that by requiring the use of a legal name it lends the site to being transparent and open.
Some individuals are questioning the idea of a safer online environment by sharing their legal names. For many the stage name is about protecting their identity so as to not be a target. For many of the performers who use a stage name on Facebook, this is the identity they live and work under. The people they connect with on social media become friends and taking away their ability to use Facebook hurts their business and their brand. They do not want to use a fan page as if they were a Hollywood actor or actress. Instead, they want to continue to use Facebook as they have been, adding friends and interacting on what is a virtual one on one platform.
In an effort to fight against Facebook’s name policy, one performer, Olivia LaGarce, turned to change.org to create a petition. The petition is calling for people to take a stand against Facebook and their refusal to allow performers to use their stage name as their online identity. In the petition, it is pointed out that by using a professional name they are keeping themselves safe from people who might abuse or target them. While Facebook might see the idea of forcing a performer to use their legal identity as a way to promote a safe and transparent environment, the performers do not agree and they are willing to fight to keep their name.
Opinion By Kimberley Spinney