Michael Williams (Sister Roma), one of the key figures behind the campaign against Facebook’s ‘real name’ policy

Following a meeting with a group of drag performers, Facebook has refused to stop suspending their, and anyone else’s, profiles unless they use their legal names.

The company’s ‘real name’ policy has come under fire from performers and artists who use ‘stage names’ on their Facebook profiles.

It also affects people who might face harassment and violence if they use their real names on the site, such as closeted LGBT people and women escaping domestic abuse.

Facing protests against the policy and the suspension of profiles, Facebook agreed to meet with drag performers at its California campus on Wednesday.

According to Michael Williams, also known as Sister Roma, their pleas at the meeting didn’t sway the company. “Facebook refuses to agree that the legal name policy is unfair and discriminatory,” he said.

Facebook revealed that the recent spate of profile suspensions had come about after it received reports from other users about the profiles not reflecting the owners’ real names. Williams described these complaints as an “attack” against the profiles. The profiles were evaluated and if found to contravene Facebook’s terms of use, they were suspended.

Facebook announced after the meeting that it would temporarily restore suspended profiles of members of the LGBT community for two weeks until these users either confirm their real identity, change to their legal names, or move to a fan page.

Williams said that, “While at first glance this seems like a grand show of support for our community it is actually a completely hollow gesture. Basically they offered to give us our profiles back so that two weeks later they could suspend them, demand we comply to their unfair and discriminatory policy, and if not, take them away again. This is completely unacceptable.”

He went on to say that, “While we could not get them to budge on the actual policy they did seem more open to considering that there are flaws in the complaint review process.”

Williams added that, “We left the meeting with an agreement that they would continue to meet with us to further hear our concerns and work together to find a compromise.”

He stated that if the company refuses to reconsider its policy, protests at the Facebook campus will go ahead.

“They might be able to wipe us off Facebook but they’ll know we’re still here! We will not rest until not only drag queens, but everyone, has the right to CHOOSE how they wish to be identified on Facebook,” Williams said.

Facebook claims that its ‘real name’ policy is necessary to maintain an “authentic” and “safe” community.

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