Facebook was forced to apologize to drag queens who had been protesting the social network’s policy of forcing its users to use their real names. In September hundreds of drag queens received emails from the social media giant informing them that they would have to use their legal names, not their stage names, in their profiles. One performer, Sister Roma, said in a Facebook post the policy was “unfair, hurtful, discriminatory and an invasion of privacy.” Following meetings with members of the LGBT and drag queen community, Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, Chris Cox, issued a formal apology for the policy. “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.”
The policy was originally intended to stop impersonation and online bullying, “bad actors doing bad things,” as Cox said. According to the Guardian report on the matter, Cox posted “the policy has never required everyone on Facebook to use their legal name and that the company is building better tools to authenticate accounts for users who prefer not to, like drag queens. He also said Facebook is working to require better customer service for people whose accounts are flagged, which was one of the key demands made by the drag queens and their supporters.” In an email to the newspaper, drag queen Lil Miss Hot Mess wrote, “It takes a lot to impress a drag queen, but I’m beyond thrilled that Facebook has offered a genuine apology and agreed that our real names are the ones we make for ourselves. This is a huge victory not only for us queens, but also for the countless others we’ve met along the way whose names don’t always match their ID cards, but allow them to express themselves with less fear and more fabulousness.” Almost 40,000 people have signed a petition asking Facebook to change its policy to allow performers to use their names on their personal accounts.