Score one major victory for the drag queens. Facebook bows under pressure and apologizes to the drag community for its "real names" policy.

Chris Cox, chief product officer at Facebook, posted a lengthy apology to the drag community and the broader LGBT community, which has been outspoken about its support for the drag queens, kings and transgenders that were affected by Facebook's crackdown on the use of performer names. Cox says Facebook is "going to fix the way this policy gets handled."

"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," Cox says.

He says that Facebook has been "caught off guard" by the backlash that happened when several members of San Francisco's drag community were banned from their Facebook accounts for using their stage names instead of their legal names. According to Cox, the lockdown was the result of one individual reporting several hundred accounts at once. In all of the 10 years Facebook has had the "real names" policy in place, he says it has "done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups."

Cox, however, stopped short of admitting that Facebook was requiring the drag community to use their legal names.

"Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name," Cox says. "The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life."

A page on the social network's support section reminds users that "The name you use should be your authentic identity; as your friends call you in real life and as our acceptable identification forms would show."

Sister Roma, a member of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, first reported the lockdown in September. Soon after, several other drag queens, kings and transgender performers came out saying they too were banned from their Facebook accounts, stating Facebook was requiring them to submit a copy of their IDs to prove that the names they were using, which were their stage names, were their "real" names.

With the help of city officials, the drag community was able to arrange a meeting with Facebook. The initial meeting, however, was unproductive, as Facebook insisted that its users have several ways to display alternative names, such as using nicknames that appear in a parenthesis next to their "real" names and using fan pages for their stage personalities. The drag queens, however, says their stage names are not just for the performer side of who they are; they are part of their identity much more than their legal names are.

The wider LGBT community got involved, prompting a major backlash and an exodus to startup social network invitation-based Ello, which brands itself as the anti-Facebook. At least 31,000 Ello invitations were being requested as of last week.

Cox says that Facebook's policy has "not worked flawlessly" and the social network is already "building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world."

In a statement, San Francisco Supervisor, who was instrumental in initiating a meeting between Facebook and the drag community, says he is grateful to Facebook for being willing to work with the drag queens.

"The drag queens spoke and Facebook listened!" Campos says. "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."

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