Thursday, September 25, 2014

We Finally Heard Back from Facebook on Their Real Name Policy

Posted By on Thu, Sep 25, 2014 at 10:14 AM

In this week's Tucson Weekly, we talked to Patrick Holt about the challenges he faces dealing with a new policy Facebook began enforcing on identities, which seemed to specifically target drag queens who use personal pages to connect with the public on their work. For Holt that's Tempest DuJour. We also talked with Tucson activist Abby Jensen, a member of the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance and an attorney, who shared her perspectives on how the policy could possibly be damaging for people in the LGBT community, especially those who are transitioning, and use new online personal pages to begin learning about their new gender identity and the transgender community.

At press time, Facebook had yet to respond, but before we get to their response, here's a new site Holt shared with us that could be an interesting way for drag queens and their fans to connect, and take this community away from Facebook and any potential income it thought it could make from these entertainers:

Due to space constraints we weren't able to include further comment from Jensen, who brought up her worry about activists and LGBT people living in foreign countries "whose very lives are at risk, yet have or need an online presence to continue their activism or just to relieve some of the pressure of living in the closet. It also includes those who just don't want their bosses or family to know everything about what they do online."

"The other problem with FB's 'real name' (policy) is the assumption that only the name on a person's ID is their 'real' or 'legal' name. In the US, it is legal to use any name you want to identify yourself as long as you are not doing so to defraud someone," Jensen said. "And you do not need a court order or other governmental approval to use a different name. The reason trans and other people get name change orders from the court is that, especially in this post-9/11 world, it's difficult to get government agencies, banks, etc. to acknowledge a name change without it."

OK, so from Facebook spokesperson:

“We had a good discussion with the group about their perspectives on our real name standard, and we stressed how the standard helps prevent bad behavior, while creating a safer and more accountable environment. We look forward to continuing the conversation with the LGBT community, so that we can work to ensure they can continue to connect and engage on Facebook."

Here's additional information Facebook provided on the standard and information on some of the documentation that can be used to verify a real name that someone uses in their everyday lives:

In order to provide a safer, more open environment, we’ve always required that people use their real identity on their Facebook Profiles. For instance, we’ve seen situations where people have used fake names to engage in bad behavior online, including harassment, impersonation and hate speech.

Facebook understands that, for many different reasons, drag queens and other members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community choose to be known by identities other than their legal names in their daily lives, including for their Facebook profiles.

We also recognize that a person’s real identity is not necessarily the name that appears on their legal documentation. That’s why we accept other forms of identification that verifies the name the person uses in everyday life. As explained here, we accept many different forms of identification including mail, a yearbook photo, student card, library card, paystub, bank statement, bus card, and magazine subscriptions.

If people want to use an alternative name on Facebook, they also have several different options available to them, including providing an alias under their name on their profile, or creating a Page specifically for that alternate persona. These Pages do not have to publicly show the person’s real name or link to the person’s Facebook Profile. Many musicians, bloggers, and entertainers use Pages to represent their entertainment personas without linking to their real name profile.

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