Facebook and real names
Ah Facebook. You were doing so well. You gave us over 50 options to describe our gender, you even let us use more than one! It seemed you were finally learning your lesson, improving yourself, and now it seems you’re back to your old tricks.
So for those of you unaware, Facebook only allows you to use your legal name for personal profiles. Now the reason for this makes sense, they don’t want people posing as someone they aren’t nor do they want someone to be able to bully others while hiding behind anonymity, but, surprise surprise, the execution is pretty horrendous and ends up causing a lot more harm than good.
Many in the trans* community end up getting affected by this policy, often times getting their account banned and having to start a new one simply because their real name does not match up with their legal name. But they aren’t the only ones. Abuse victims may use a different name so that their abusers can’t follow them and many performers use a different name for their stage persona. In fact the latest issue over this policy has been thanks to Facebook deleting the accounts of drag performers.
As well intentioned as this policy is, it simply ends up being discriminatory. If you have a “normal” sounding name you won’t get reported and you’ll just get ignored by Facebook. But if you’re name is unique, whether or not it’s legal, you can get reported and told by Facebook to provide proof it’s your legal name or change it. Otherwise, they’ll just delete your account.
Look, Facebook, I know you want to keep your community safe. You want people to feel comfortable sharing and talking to their friends without the fear of some anonymous troll coming out of the woodwork to ruin their day. But you can do it much more easily than saying what is and what isn’t a real name. Does this person have a name, a location, and actually has discussion with others who recognize and know who this person is? If they do, guess what, they aren’t anonymous. They’re just another person trying to live their life. How about you keep them comfortable and not tell them they aren’t real.