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Drag queens protest outside Facebook HQ over ‘real name’ policy

Nick Duffy June 2, 2015

A number of prominent drag queens have protested outside the headquarters of Facebook – as they still face bans for using their names on the social network.

Facebook banned hundreds of drag artists from the website last summer for not using their legal names on their profiles – which was later revealed to be the work of one user submitting a vast number of malicious reports.

The company promised to alter the ‘real name’ policy to allow drag artists to use their chosen names if they prefer – but no changes were ever made, and the network still regularly faces criticism for banning people over their choice of name.

Drag group the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence yesterday held a protest outside the company’s Menlo Park headquarters, to protest the ongoing policy.

Sister Indica said: “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and drag queens are not the only targets of Facebook’s ‘Real Name’ policy but just like at Stonewall, we’re at the forefront of the fight to be ourselves authentically – both on and offline.

“We have always been a voice for those who aren’t heard — but I assure you, they will be heard.”

Rival network Ello – which saw an influx of users amid the ‘real name’ drama – laid on a number of buses from San Francisco to get the protesters to Facebook.

The network also declared June 1 ‘Ello Pride Day’ – and CEO Paul Budnitz says Ello is proud of being more exclusive.

He said: “Ello is not motivated by the needs of advertisers and data aggregators.

“Facebook’s policy is aimed at squeezing the most money out of its users by bullying them into using real names so they can more easily track them and sell their data.

“Because Ello will never have ads or sell user data, you can safely be whoever you want. On Ello we celebrate the LGTBQ community’s right to live their digital lives with freedom and dignity.”

Facebook has previously blamed the bans on user reports, saying: “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.”

More: Artist, drag, drag queen, Facebook, Gay, LGBT, Mark Zuckerberg, protest, protests, real name, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, tech, US

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