The Right to Self-Identify

Facebook’s ‘Real Name’ Policy Update Is A First Step, But “Not A Final Solution” For The Queer Community

sister roma facebook real name policy drag queen queer update december 2015
Facebook released a statement on Tuesday revealing changes to their controversial “Real Name” policy. The policy has had a significantly negative impact on Facebook’s queer users, and came under fire in 2014 when Sister Roma, a well-known San Francisco drag personality, was forced to change her profile to reflect her given name.

“On Facebook, we require people to use the name their friends and family know them by,” the new statement reads. “When people use the names they are known by, their actions and words carry more weight because they are more accountable for what they say. It also makes it harder for bullies to anonymously smear the reputations of others, or anyone else to use an anonymous name to harass, scam or engage in criminal behavior.”

In order to make the social network a safe space for everyone, Facebook has released a new version of the name reporting process that requires additional context as to why the claim is being made.

“The good news is that reported names have to go through a much more rigorous review,” Sister Roma shared about the new process. “They’ve even hired a full-time employee to work on the authentic name policy, and that’s huge… The bad news is that the new process has only been given to 1% of Facebook users.”

Facebook currently has 1.55 billion users, so approximately 15.5 million users should now be able to see the new process.

Prior the the new process update, Sister Roma met with a working group at Facebook to review the changes. “It’s not a final solution, it’s not perfect, but Facebook is moving as quickly as they can,” she shared. “It takes a lot of time to make changes at such a big company. We’re going to continue to review.”

The fight isn’t over, especially for the thousands of people who have been effected by the out-dated policy. “I’d like to get a way for people to get their names back,” Roma commented on this issue. “That’s the next step for me.”

The goal of this new process is to make it more difficult for people to have their authentic names taken away from them. If a Facebook user’s name is reported, that user will now be able to explain their special circumstances for using that name. The report will then be submitted to a real human, not a computer, for review. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

“I’ve been here since the beginning,” Roma remarked. “I’m going to stick with it until all users have the right to self-identify.”

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  • Francis Thomas

    If you are not paying, you are the product.

  • topshelf

    Nice try attempting to manufacture outrage among gay Facebook users. It isn’t a gay issue and I’m not interested in being associated with a cause that impacts a bunch of drag queens.

  • scotty

    nope. still not using facebook for anything.

  • Shannon1981

    @topshelf: Not just drag queens. I lost my “Equality” as my middle name because of this. This happened more than a year ago, and I STILL don’t have any recourse to get it back. I’m a lesbian, BTW, not a drag queen or a trans woman.

  • Dan Levin

    Being an active member of the gay community, I can honestly say that the real name policy doesn’t apply to me and bears no significance to my community.

  • JaredNorthcutt30

    @topshelf See if I stick around for gay marriage or whatever issue you whine about.

  • JaredNorthcutt30

    And this product chooses to self-identity. Have fun in your oppressive cyberpunk dystopia, Francis Thomas.

  • Giancarlo85

    @Dan Levin: Whether it applies to you is irrelevant. And it does apply to the community.

    I don’t use Facebook anymore as I had issues with their privacy policies. But I am not going to attack anyone who doesn’t want to use their real name. They aren’t all drag queens. And the way some attack those within our community who are affected by this… Is highly hypocritical.

  • joeyty

    What’s the nun-dude complaining about now ?

  • onthemark

    WTF. Somebody should point out to Sister Roma that the term “final solution” doesn’t refer to anything good!

    Anyway, considering all the dumbass “original” names that people give their kids nowadays, FB will have their hands full dealing with this issue in about a decade.

  • SonOfKings

    Those in this thread saying they don’t care about this issue because it doesn’t affect them need to have a whole auditorium of seats. Many in the LGBT-Queer community have found it easier to cope and deal by projecting and alternate persona, and that is how they are recognized in their social circles. It is not unlike the urban, Black, inner-city hood I grew up in where many folks fashioned identities and names for themselves that expressed how they swag and flow, versus what was on their birth certificate. I would have never dreamed of addressing these people by their birth names. That would have been disrespectful, because that was not how they were known. The people who run Facebook seem to have a generic, White, straight, suburban mentality, which expects “Herbert J. Smith” to answer to and identify as “Herbert J. Smith.” In my hood that person might have been known as “Heat-Jackson Smith,” or some such. Facebook needs to get with the program and understand that authenticity is not the same as being literal and exact.

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