Facebook’s policy on real names is causing a problem for drag queens. A number of performers have had their profile pages closed down because they refuse to use the name that is on their driver’s license. While the policy has been around for some time, many are only just facing the issue now.
A number of drag queens in the U.S. have rallied together against the policy. Others are fighting with them, too. The activists use the argument that having real names on profiles is not safe for everyone. This is not just about the drag queens, but about anyone wanting to protect their identity. Having their real names could put them at serious risk.
However, Facebook claims that the use of real names keeps everyone safe. It is an attempt to prevent online bullying, which has been a major issue recently. A number of teenagers have been found dead from suicide due to cyber bullying. The bullies are either using anonymous profiles or will keep all the taunts and name-calling to private messages to make it harder to be caught.
The social media giants wants to make sure everyone is accountable for their actions. It also prevents fraud and impersonation – another issue that is a problem. However, people do not need to use legal documentation. There are other forms that can be used to verify a name, including student ID and credit cards.
While the Facebook real name policy is causing a problem for drag queens, there is always the option of having a fan page, also referred to as a business page, for their stage work. This can be controlled through their profile page in their real name. This is not enough for a number of drag queens, who want to keep their real identities off the site to protect themselves.
The real name policy makes it clear what is and is not allowed on the site. Some of the terms are contradictory and confusing. At one point, the policy says that nicknames are not allowed in place of a middle name, but then goes on to say that nicknames can be used for first or middle names.
Facebook goes on to say that the profile pages are designed to be personal and not for business use. Pretending to be something else is also not allowed, which could be why the drag queen profiles have been removed. However, the drag queens argue that their rights are being violated. If they have to share their real name, the social media site is breaching their rights to privacy.
The decision to remove the profiles has led to a number of users leaving the social media giant. Many are turning to a smaller site called Ello, which does allow alternative names. It is also an ad-free network, but still in beta mode.
The question is whether a small group of people leaving is enough to make the social media giant change its policy. There is also the question of whether enough people care to get involved. While Facebook’s real name policy is causing problems for drag queens, there are plenty of others who prefer the idea of real names being used to protect them.
Opinion by Alexandria Ingham