Facebook apologized to drag queens and the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community after an outcry over the social network’s policy of requiring members to use real names for their accounts on its service.
The company, which from its founding has focused on authentic identities instead of allowing anonymous activity, drew criticism after it locked out some users going by their drag names, leading to complaints that the inability to use a pseudonym could compromise individuals’ safety and privacy.
According to a statement yesterday by Chief Product Officer Chris Cox, Facebook was caught off-guard when someone reported several hundred of these accounts as fake, triggering a process that requires users to validate their names with some form of identification, like library cards, mail or gym memberships, which can be difficult for those who go by pseudonyms.
The company, whose authentic-name policy is meant to protect members by avoiding impersonation, bullying, hate speech and scams, now realizes that the resulting events put these users through a hardship, and Facebook will fix the way the identification policy is handled, Cox wrote in a post on the site.
“The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life,” Cox wrote. “For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what’s been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook”.