The social media website Facebook has operated under a policy that requires users to identify under their legal names. While there wasn’t much in the way of active enforcement of this policy, users could be locked out from their accounts if they were flagged by other users for creating an account with a false name.
This policy recently came under scrutiny when members of the LGBT community were barred from their accounts for using names other than the ones that are on their birth certificates. The account suspensions were not actively executed by the social media website, but they occurred automatically when users started flagging their accounts for using false names.
Members of San Francisco’s drag community first brought the problem to public attention when many of them found that they had been locked out of their accounts for not using their legal names. The group then turned to other social media sites to express their disappointment with the policy, claiming that it is discriminatory and that it can also endanger individuals that are trying to avoid potential stalkers and victims of abuse.
This has led Facebook to consider changes to the policy with the company releasing a statement where they apologized and promised to fix they way that the policy is handled. The company has already held a meeting with the Transgender Law Center to discuss ways in which the policy can be changed and how to handle the potential for future problems.
In a statement following the meeting, a representative from the Transgender Law Center said,
“We had a very productive meeting with Facebook today in which they apologized for the way this situation has been handled and they committed to making changes to the way they enforce their ‘real names’ policy to ensure that folks who need to use chosen names that reflect their authentic selves online are able to do so.”
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