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Drag Queens Plan New Protest Against Facebook Real Name Policy

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Facebook requires its users to use their real names when creating an account. Likewise, the company has allowed users to report user accounts that are allegedly believed to have been created under fake names.

Facebook's "real name" policy has received a great deal of criticism for years. However, the company defends its stance on imposing the policy, which it believes is an important tool toward ensuring that FB users are not anonymous and in protecting people from abuse.

As a result, Facebook has already suspended accounts of people who haven't been using their officially recognized names.

"Having people use their authentic names makes them more accountable, and also helps us root out accounts created for malicious purposes, like harassment, fraud, impersonation and hate speech," said Facebook in a statement.

This move by Facebook has caused drag queens, transgenders, Native Americans, survivors of domestic violence and others to come together and form a coalition now known as #MyNameIs as a sign of protest against the company's "real name" policy.

Some members of the coalition believe that they are being targeted by users with malicious intent who are against their identity and behavior.

"People who've done nothing wrong are being targeted and harassed," said Sister Roma, a drag queen who hails from San Francisco. Roma states she's been using her name for almost 30 years. "People realized it was a tool to maliciously target and bully people they didn't like. It started with drag queens and then spread to hit gay and lesbian activists and others."

Roma adds that she didn't want to use her legal name because of fear of potentially being harassed. Her Facebook account was suspended in September of the previous year after somebody complained about it. The incident led her to start the #MyNameIs protest on Twitter.

In 2011, Salman Rushdie challenged the social networking site after his account was suspended under the suspicion that he was an impostor. Eventually, his account was reinstated, although it included the name Ahmed, which is the first name on his passport. He then appealed to Mark Zuckerberg over Twitter and had his account reinstated under his preferred name.

Sister Roma and other members of the "My Name Is" campaign group have already met with Facebook four times, most recently in March. During the meetings, Facebook apologized for the closure of the accounts and promised that the company would find other means to verify and authenticate FB user names.

"Over the last several months, we've made some significant improvements in the implementation of this standard, including enhancing the overall experience and expanding the options available for verifying an authentic name," said Facebook. "We have more work to do, and our teams will continue to prioritize these improvements so everyone can be their authentic self on Facebook." 

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