Drag queens and other artists were forcibly logged out of their Facebook accounts for not having legal names on their profiles in the company's newly enforced "real name" policy.
Performers were suspended from their accounts on Sept. 10 and have publicly complained about the discrimination.
Facebook is sticking to its "real name" rule to "keep the community safe." A Facebook spokesperson says that all users need to follow the company's policy that declares users need to "use their real identities" and "provide their real names, so you always know who you're connecting with."
The company addressed the complaints from performers such as drag queen Miz Cracker, and at least 20 of her colleagues who have been suspended from their accounts for days. Facebook released a statement that says that users who want to use an alternative name can provide an alias under their profile name or create a Page for their persona. "As part of our overall standards, we ask that people who use Facebook provide their real name on their profile," the statement says.
Drag queens debate that even though the real name rule has long been Facebook's policy, they were able to use their persona names in the profiles for years without being bothered.
"I found out that my account had been suspended on Wednesday night, right in the middle of a show, when a fellow queen texted to ask 'Why is your Facebook profile gone?'" the New York based-performer writes. "Facebook was letting me know that I had a choice: I could either select a name they liked, or lose touch with the contacts, creative content, and memories that my name has earned me over the years."
Facebook could be cracking down on the policy as a result of users reporting profiles. Profile pages are only reviewed when "a member of the Facebook community reports it to us," a Facebook source says.
Other reasons for the suspended accounts could be homophobia or linked to financial gains Facebook gets when artists create post promotional Fan pages that require payment.
Some performers say that they use their stage names on their profiles for privacy reasons. "We are not businesses selling products; we are encouraging our friends to come to our events and performances, promoting charitable causes, and making calls to political action, with occasional mundane daily life updates like every other Facebook user," performer Olivia LaGarce of Seattle, writes in a petition against the policy.
In February of this year, Facebook made a policy change that allowed users to use 50 suggested terms such as "intersex," "other," or "gender fluid" to customize how they identify themselves.
The petition against the real name policy has gotten over 6,800 signatures.