Facebook vows to revise how ‘painful’ real-name policy is enforced

The social media giant’s policy has been called discriminatory against transgender people, drag queens, and drag kings.

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For the past decade, Facebook has required people to use their real names on their profile pages. That may soon change in the wake of intense backlash from transgender Facebook users, drag queens, and drag kings.

In mid-September, dozens of people got locked out of their Facebook accounts after someone—according to Facebook, a single person—flagged the accounts of certain people, many of them members of the San Francisco drag community who for years had been using identifying monikers, as fake.

Facebook’s chief product officer, Chris Cox, explained what happened in a lengthy post Wednesday:

These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn’t notice the pattern.

Facebook’s policy has long been to ask people whose accounts are flagged as fake to prove their identities with a form of ID, but Cox said the spirit of the policy isn’t to force people to use names they don’t want to use.

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