Facebook has issued a public apology over its real-name policy after coming under fire for locking San Francisco-area drag queens out of their accounts and requesting they use their real names instead of stage names. The social network also told these individuals to set up fan pages for their drag personas.
In a post on the matter, Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox said the entire incident caught them off guard and came about when a single Facebook user reported several hundred accounts used by drag queens, drag kings, transgender people and those in the LGBT community as fake.
Cox pointed out that these reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports they process each week, the vast majority of which are “bad actors” doing bad things like impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, hate speech and so forth.
Because they receive so many requests, Facebook didn’t notice the pattern with the aforementioned accounts. As such, hundreds of members of the community that use stage names to protect their true identity were locked out of their accounts.
Cox went on to explain that Facebook’s policy has never been to require people to use their legal name but rather, the authentic name they use in real life and until recently, it’s never been a problem. He said that Facebook believes this is the right policy for the social network because it differentiates the service from the rest of the Internet where the use of pseudonyms is the norm.
As a result of this event, Cox said they’ve realized there is a lot of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms as well as the customer service for anyone who’s affected. Facebook is already working on a fix that’ll help authenticate the real people and keep the so-called bad actors out.