Facebook’s Authentic Name Policy and ‘Celebrate Pride’ Tool

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Facebook’s authentic name policy is under protest again, even after the company launched its “Celebrate Pride” tool to celebrate marriage equality. The LGBT community chanted on the streets during Sunday’s Pride parade in San Francisco. In front of the parade judges, LGBT members showed signs saying, “Shame on FB,”, as part of a #MyNameIs campaign. The social media site makes users use “authentic names” during sign-up, and provide ID upon request. Otherwise, the user account would be locked.

Many claim the policy discriminates against members of the LGBT community who may use pseudonyms in order to remain safe. A transgender Facebook employee said her own account was shut down recently because there were conflicts in her names. She wrote about it in her blog, where she expressed that names are “tools for description,” for “quickly communicating the idea of a person or thing,” which may change due to the fact that individuals have many social groups and contexts.

In September, the protest against the authentic name directive soared as LGBT members were denied access to their accounts following reports that hundreds of “fake names” were being used. Facebook modified the policy, including accepting additional forms of IDs, as long as they have a date of birth or photo which corresponds to the information on the profile. Magazine subscriptions or bank statements with such information will also suffice.

The #MyNameIs movement attempted to block FB from participating in the Pride march, but the board took a vote, ultimately deciding to allow the company in after CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg called the organizers personally. Those in support of the movement marched in the parade alongside drag queens, all of whom walked in front of the representatives from Facebook, doling out stickers and fliers attacking the social platform.

Facebook’s s authentic name policy is under attack, even while its users celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding same sex marriage and use the newly-launched “Celebrate Pride” tool. In Business Insider, Lil Miss Hot Mess, an organizer of the parade, said that while Facebook wants to publicly show that they support the movement, they need to make sure that their actions match their words. Facebook expressed its support for marriage equality.

Meanwhile, after the decision from the Supreme Court on Friday, which declared same-sex marriage as a constitutional right guaranteed in the 14th amendment of the Constitution, profiles on FB turned into a rainbow spectacle. The users of today’s dominant social media site started to celebrate the Supreme Court decision by overlaying their profile photos with a spectrum. This manner of celebration via Facebook is something the tech world has not witnessed since March 2013, when three million users changed their images to the Human Rights Campaign logo (the red equal sign), to show their support of marriage equality.

This time, a million people had already colored their profile pics with rainbows after just a few hours, and the number is still growing, said William Nevus, a Facebook spokesperson. The tool to “Celebrate Pride” was announced by Zuckerberg to allow users to express their support of marriage equality. Users can do so by clicking on the “Celebrate Pride” tool, where their profile photo will be shown with a rainbow filter. Clicking on “Use as Profile Picture” will make the rainbow pic the user’s actual profile photo.

MIT network scientist Cesar Hidalgo said changing profile pics to express one’s support of something might be an experiment. Some have raised the question of whether the tool launched by the social network is actually a research tool. Data scientists within FB have been scrutinized by the public for conducting experiments on their users, including checking in on their moods and voting behavior. This research may bring understanding as to whether or not citizens can organize online and how they affect larger social movements with their collective activity.

Facebook’s authentic name policy is facing protests again, even after the company launched its “Celebrate Pride” tool to allow users to express their support of same-sex marriage. Aside from the social network, other tech firms also support same-sex marriage, including Apple and Microsoft.

Written by Judith Aparri

Edited by Jennifer Pfalz

Sources:
Business Insider: Members of the LGBT community are protesting Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg at the Pride Parade
The Atlantic: Were All Those Rainbow Profile Photos Another Facebook Experiment?
Forbes: Facebook Launches ‘Celebrate Pride’ Tool Which Puts A Rainbow Filter Over Profile Pictures

Photo Courtesy of Buunnymaan‘s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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