Now that Facebook has started to enforce the “real name” policy, many gay, trans and adult performers say they are risking their safety for the website.
Earlier this week, many drag queens and transgender performers in Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles were forced to either immediately change their stage name to their real name on Facebook or delete their account.
“If people want to use an alternative name on Facebook, they have several different options available to them, including providing an alias under their name on their profile, or creating a Page specifically for that alternative persona,” a Facebook representative said.
However, many people who use different names on their Facebook page find this policy to be dangerous.
Bay Area LGBT activist Sister Roma, a Facebook user since 2008, was locked out of her profile on Wednesday. She was told to change her “legal name, like the one that appears on your driver’s license or credit card.”
Roma finally gave into the new policy as she had essentially disappeared from her friends, family, job, and nonprofit volunteer work because of the deactivation of the account. Now, she must post under the name Michael Williams.
“I use this site to keep up with friends and simply don’t want my employers or crazy stalker people to log on and search me,” Williams said. “I want my friends to find me…I detest the idea of having a fan page. I’m not f—-ing Britney Spears. I have friends, not fans.”
Williams also said the new policy could be dangerous for LGBT youth.
“Here is an example of the comments I have received regarding Facebook’s legal name change policy: ‘The name I was born with is the name of a victim, a lonely little boy who hated himself. That is NOT who I am. #MyNameIsJayd.’”
A change.org petition was created by Seattle’s Olivia LaGarce asking Facebook to allow performers to use their stage names on their Facebook accounts.
“These are the names we are known by and call each other and ourselves,” the petition says. “We build our networks, community and audience under the names we have chosen, and forcing us to switch our names after years of operating under them has caused nothing but confusion and pain by preventing us from presenting our profiles under the names we have built them up with.”
Google went through the same thing in July 2011 and began suspending and deleting accounts. Many transgender and LGBT users were outed. This fiasco was known as nymwars.
“This appalling, inhuman detachment of Facebook as it peddles its empty advertising gestures could come with a terrible price tag – at great cost to the very people who can afford it the least,” Violet Blue, author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Privacy said.
Facebook has yet to further comment on the issue.