Little Resolved in Facebook Meeting with LGBT Activists Over Real-Name Policy

Facebook did not budge on its real-name policy in a meeting Wednesday at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., with activists representing the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and drag queens, with the only concession being a promise to reinstate deleted profiles for two weeks, which did little to quell anger toward the social network.

AngryDragQueen650Facebook did not budge on its real-name policy in a meeting Wednesday at its headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., with activists representing the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community and drag queens, with the only concession being a promise to reinstate deleted profiles for two weeks, which did little to quell anger toward the social network.

Facebook manager of policy communications Andrew Souvall issued the following statement to BuzzFeed:

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’ve decided to temporarily reactivate the profiles of several-hundred members of the LGBT community whose profiles were recently deactivated. This will give them a chance to decide how they’d like to represent themselves on Facebook. Over the next two weeks, we hope that they will decide to confirm their real name, change their name to their real name or convert their profile to a page.

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.

Facebook users including transgenders and drag performers have protested the social network’s enforcement of its real-name policy, saying in many instances that their “alternative names” are the only ones they are known by, and that they do not use their legal names, and adding that pages do not offer the same ways to communicate with friends and family that user profiles do.

Sister Roma, part of drag group The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, who was forced to change the name on her account to Michael Williams, told BuzzFeed:

We didn’t get the whole issue solved by any means. Facebook refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem with the policy.

Now we’re trying to get Facebook to realize there’s a problem with the way pages are reported and the way that those complaints are researched. There’s a whole community of people that are being targeted and being bullied.

Basically, they offered to give us our profiles back so that two weeks later they could suspend them, demand we comply to their unfair and discriminatory policy and, if not, take them away again. This is completely unacceptable.

And San Francisco Supervisor David Campos told the San Francisco Bay Guardian:

When we began the discussion, it was clear that the people there did not have the authority to make a policy change. We asked Facebook to set up a meeting with whoever it is who has that authority. They said they’d get back to us, and it seems like they’re open to it, but we haven’t gotten that call.

Readers: How should Facebook handle this dispute?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.