Michael Williams (Sister Roma), one of the key figures behind the campaign against Facebook’s ‘real name’ policy
Facebook has agreed to discuss its policy of forcing drag performers to use their legal names for their profiles.
The social media giant has had the policy in place for some time, but only recently started enforcing it.
The move angered drag performers who wish to retain the right to create profiles under their drag personas.
The site has been locking drag performers and other artists such as DJs out of their accounts until they change their profile names to their legal names.
Facebook claims that the move is important to ensure that people are who they say they are so that it can maintain an “authentic” and “safe” community.
Critics point out, however, that in addition to performers, the policy will affect closeted LGBT people who face potential abuse or violence as well as survivors of domestic violence, migrants, sex workers and artists who work under pseudonyms.
“By forcing us to use our ‘real’ names, it opens the door to harassment, abuse, and violence,” reads an online petition launched to protest against Facebook’s rule.
Albert Ontiveros (also known as Sister Bearonce Knows), a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence drag charity organisation, is one of many who spoke out against Facebook’s policy.
“I receive countless emails via my Facebook page from people in our community who are distraught, or bullied, or turned away from their family, or dealing with breakups, these people trust Sisters, they trust BEARONCE KNOWS – they don’t know who the fuck Albert Ontiveros is,” he said.
“My fear is that by using our real names, people will not be able to find us, people will not be as comfortable to reach out to us. We’ve been ministering our community for 35+ years with our Sister Names… this change brings great disappointment.”
Drag performers had planned a protest at Facebook’s headquarters in San Francisco on Tuesday morning. However, Michael Williams, better known as Sister Roma, also from the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, announced that the protest had been postponed.
He revealed on Monday that Facebook “has agreed to meet with representatives from communities affected by their ‘real name’ policy on Wednesday.”
Williams, who’s one of the key figures behind the campaign against Facebook’s name rule, described it as “an historic victory” but warned that the company still needs to “proactively change their policy and ensure online safety and authenticity for everyone.”
It is not known if Facebook will change or amend its policy following tomorrow’s meeting.