Menu
Facebook apologizes to LGBT community, clarifies names policy

Facebook apologizes to LGBT community, clarifies names policy

Profiles can be under users' 'authentic' name, not necessarily their legal name

Facebook has apologized to drag queens and the larger LGBT community in the wake of controversy over the site's names policy, clarifying that users don't have to use their legal name.

Drag queens and other members of the LGBT community initially met with Facebook last month after some of their profiles were deleted and then restored, ostensibly because they weren't using their legal names. San Francisco-based Sister Roma, a member of the city's performance group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, was one of the affected users. The incident sparked a debate over Facebook's names policies and how it enforces them.

Facebook messed up, said Chris Cox, chief product officer at the company. "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," he said Wednesday.

The accounts were deleted because they were flagged by a user as fake, Cox said. Facebook receives several hundred thousand fake name reports per week, and most of the time the reports target people engaging in abusive behavior, he said. Because the drag queen accounts were dropped into that larger bucket, Facebook didn't notice that the names didn't violate the company's policies, he said.

At least some of the controversy is likely due to a misunderstanding of Facebook's policies. Facebook has never required anyone to use their legal name, but people must use the "authentic" name they use in real life, Cox clarified.

"For Sister Roma, that's Sister Roma," he said. "For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that's Lil Miss Hot Mess."

Facebook will improve both the way it identifies fake accounts and customer service around accounts that get flagged. "We're already underway building better tools for authenticating the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors," Cox said.

It's not clear how the company will do that. For the past 10 years the firm has asked users of flagged accounts to verify their names by submitting some form of ID, like a gym membership or piece of mail, but that likely won't work for everyone. Facebook did not immediately respond to comment further.

The changes were outlined following a meeting on the matter Facebook held at its headquarters with activists Wednesday morning.

The changes represent strong signs of progress, said Mark Snyder, senior manager of communications at the San Francisco-based Transgender Law Center, who was part of Wednesday's meeting.

"It's clear Facebook has been grappling internally with how to handle this," he said in an interview following the meeting.

For instance, Facebook earlier this year started offering more gender-identification options.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and serviceslegalsocial networkingsocial mediainternetFacebook

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments