Facebook has agreed to make changes to the way it works, after locking the accounts of a number of drag queens because they weren’t using their “legal names”.
The social network has been under fire over the policy, after it last month began locking the accounts of users with noticeable drag names
Following protests the company agreed to temporarily reinstate some drag performers’ profiles , but previously insisted the policy itself would remains unchanged.
However, at a meeting with the San Francsico drag community organised by Supervisor David Campos today, Facebook representatives said the ‘flawed’ policy had hurt people, and would be changed.
Mr Campos said: “The drag queens spoke and Facebook listened! Facebook agreed that the real names policy is flawed and has unintentionally hurt members of our community.
“We have their commitment that they will be making substantive changes soon and we have every reason to believe them.
“Facebook apologized to the community and has committed to removing any language requiring that you use your legal name.
“They’re working on technical solutions to make sure that nobody has their name changed unless they want it to be changed and to help better differentiate between fake profiles and authentic ones.”
Drag artist RuPaul had previously weighed in to the controversy, saying: ” it’s bad policy when Facebook strips the rights of creative individuals who have blossomed into something even more fabulous than the name their mama gave them.”
Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, updated his page with a lengthy apology which read: “I want to apologize to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.
“In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we’ve had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it. We’ve also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we’re going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.
“The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern.
“Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life.
“We see through this event that there’s lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who’s real and who’s not, and the customer service for anyone who’s affected. These have not worked flawlessly and we need to fix that. With this input, we’re already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors. And we’re taking measures to provide much more deliberate customer service to those accounts that get flagged so that we can manage these in a less abrupt and more thoughtful way. To everyone affected by this, thank you for working through this with us and helping us to improve the safety and authenticity of the Facebook experience for everyone.”