The social medium Facebook is reportedly targeting professional drag performers and telling them to use their birth names on their profiles or get out.
According to Queerty.com, some performers have been locked out of their accounts for refusing the company’s ultimatum.
San Francisco drag performer Sister Roma said she has had to change her profile name to her birth name, Michael Williams.
“In light of the new demand by Facebook that we use our ‘real’ names,” Roma wrote on Wednesday, “I am considering shutting down my personal page to concentrate on my ‘FAN PAGE.’ I update it and interact as much as I can but I detest the idea of having a fan page. I’m not fucking Britney Spears. I have friends, not fans.”
“We know Facebook just rolled out gender-neutral family options,” wrote Queerty’s Dan Tracer, “so clearly they’re trying to appear sensitive to nonconforming identities. So what’s with the name police?”
Roma described the process of getting locked out of her Facebook account — which she has operated under the name Sister Roma since 2008 — to Greg Seals at the Daily Dot, saying, “I was automatically logged out and told my account was suspended because it appears that I’m not using my real name. I was instructed to log in and forced to change the name on my profile to my ‘legal name, like the one that appears on your drivers’ license or credit card.'”
The account was suspended until she complied.
SeattleGayScene.com reported that local performers Cherry Sur Bete, Gaysha Starr and others were targeted by the Facebook policy.
Facebook maintains that it insists on “real names” in order to “keep our community safe,” but performers and privacy advocates argue that the policy makes drag performers and transgender people more vulnerable to harassment, stalking and other invasions of privacy.
Blogger Brad Gilligan at SeattleGayScene.com said that Facebook is most likely trying to make money by driving performers to “Fan Pages/Like Pages, which for all intents and purposes, are the most useless thing on Facebook…Unless you have thousands of dollars to shell out for ads to get your page boosted for views, Like Page posts get lost among a sea of InstaGrams and viral trends.”
[image of Sister Roma, left, via Facebook.com]