Facebook’s controversial and discriminatory practice of deleting drag queen accounts sparked outrage among the LGBT community for weeks before the social network decided to rescind its real-name policy.
— kinkydotcom (@kinkydotcom) September 30, 2014
After a meeting between Facebook community managers and members of the San Francisco LGBT community went awry, the company was quick to change its mind, which prompted the city’s supervisor, David Campos, to release this optimistic press announcement praising the company’s decision to finally acquiesce to user feedback:
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,” Campos said. “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.
However, an official announcement came much later from Facebook via Chris Cox, the company’s chief product officer, who said, “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.”
Cox blamed the mass deletion on one user who indiscriminately flagged several hundred accounts as fake. Since Facebook required flagged users to provide documentation of real names, all drag queens were unable to prove their identification, and therefore, lost their accounts.
Facebook may have intended to remove trolls and abusive users by requiring users to adopt their real names on the social network, but obviously, real, official names and real public names are drastically different. Cox said that Facebook is “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.” What that means has not been clarified.