By TJ Acena, PQ Monthly
You may remember when Facebook started deleting profiles of drag queens and asking them to revert to their birth name last fall. It was the beginning of a public outcry against Facebook’s “real name” policy, an outcry that is not going away. Yesterday the #MyNameIs coalition held a protest outside Facebook’s main campus to highlight the continued failure of the company to fix its “real name” policy. In a statement from Dottie Lux, a protest organizer, “Facebook’s apology was empty and insincere: It’s clear that they wanted to brush this under the rug by restoring a few accounts and making a few minor tweaks. But since October, our group has heard from thousands of people around the world whose accounts have been reported and blocked.”
Many of the blocked users who have shared their stories with the #MyNameIs coalition, which you can read on their website, reported that their accounts were closed as an act of cyberbullying and included homophobic and misogynist threats. Victims of domestic or sexual violence need the option of using a name other than their legal name on Facebook to protect both themselves and their loved ones. LGBTQ people may also wish to use a different name from their legal name because it’s not safe for them to be open in their communities. Transgender youth are especially affected because they may lack the legal or financial access to change their names.
Native American groups have also joined the #MyNameIs protest, having independently protested and filed lawsuits against the “real name” policy themselves, citing the Dawes Act of 1887, which stripped an entire generation of Native children of their cultural names—names that are not their legal names.
The #MyNameIs coalition is calling on Facebook to remove the “fake name” reporting system, develop alternative methods of user authentication, and create an accessible appeals process for users whose accounts are removed. You can find more information on their website.