The world's most popular social media website, Facebook, was reportedly targeted by a group of protesters in San Francisco's Pride Parade Sunday, still dissatisfied with its "authentic name" policy.
Members and supporters of the #MyNameIs campaign, which included drag queens, marched with the Harvey Milk group, ahead of the Facebook group, according to Business Insider. They handed out buttons and fliers, criticized the company and its founder, and turned their signs to say "Shame on FB" in front of the parade judges.
The #MyNameIs campaign had unsuccessfully tried to block the social network company from participating in the parade, but after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally called organizers, the board voted 5-4 to let the social network march.
The campaign is in reponse to Facebook's continued policy requiring users to register with "authentic names," and to provide identification if asked, or risk being locked out of their accounts.
Because many members in the LGBT community go by nicknames or pseudonyms for safety, the policy has been labeled as discriminatory. One former Facebook employee who is transgender, Zip, says her account was recently shut down due to a name conflict and wrote about the issue on Medium.
"Names are a tool for description, a shorthand for quickly communicating the idea of a person or thing," Zip wrote on Medium. "They change based on context. Each person has many names, because each person has many contexts and social groups. Like the government, Facebook tries to warp all of these contexts into one identifier. And like the government, it demands the final say in what you are called."
The debate over the real-name policy first flared up last year, as drag queens and other LGBT community members were locked out of their accounts after a single user reported hundreds of people as having "fake names."
As The Advocate previously reported, Facebook agreed to meet with a group of users last September, and on October 1, 2014, the company apologized and adjusted the policy to accept many more types of IDs — like bank statements or magazine subscriptions — as long as one of them has a photo or a date of birth that matches the information on the Facebook profile.
Facebook chief product officer Chris Cox posted on the site that day:
"Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess. Part of what's been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook."
A statement from the Transgender Law Center, which sent representatives to the October 1st meeting between concerned activists and Facebook executives at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., expressed optimism about the social network's willingness to revise its policy:
"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. We are excited to work in good faith with Facebook to address all the concerns raised in today's meeting. What was made clear today is that Facebook is ready to collaborate with our communities and shares our value of making sure everyone is able to safely be their authentic self online. We applaud the many staff at Facebook who advocated tirelessly for this progress."