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Facebook sorry over 'real name' issues

Thu 2 Oct 2014 In: International News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Tess Tickle (right), pictured here with fellow diva Buckwheat, was among the Kiwi queens impacted Facebook has apologised specifically to drag artists, trans people and the lgbt community over its ‘real name’ policy which saw accounts all over the world suspended. “In the two weeks since the real-name policy issues surfaced, we've had the chance to hear from many of you in these communities and understand the policy more clearly as you experience it,” chief product officer Chris Cox says in a post. “We've also come to understand how painful this has been. We owe you a better service and a better experience using Facebook, and we're going to fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were.” Auckland drag diva Tess Tickle was among those who were locked out of their accounts, but managed to convince Facebook reactivate it after protesting and sending in a few official documents from her business. She says the apology from Facebook is great news. “I’m happy for those performers, trans and people with other legit pseudonyms for keeping their Facebook profiles they have built up over the years as part of their network,” she says. “And good on Facebook for listening to their customers! Although Chief Chris Cox does have a an ironic ring to it.” Others impacted were Family Bar hostess Miss Ribena, who had to add her out of drag name to her profile, so she is now 'Ribena NZ Kevin'. Expat Kiwi Polly Filla, who now lives in Melbourne, was forced to set up a fan page for her alter-ego so she could change her personal Facebook page to her real name. Drag queens led by the Sister of Perpetual Indulgence met with Facebook representatives in San Francisco last month demanding it change the policy, but were initially rebuffed. Cox says the way it happened caught the Facebook team off guard. “An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. 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. “The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We've had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it's done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here.” Lil Miss Hot Mess and Sister Roma met with Facebook to discuss the policy last month Cox says Facebook’s 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.” He believes this is what made Facebook special in the first place, “by differentiating the service from the rest of the internet where pseudonymity, anonymity, or often random names were the social norm,” he says. “Second, it's the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm. The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse, and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it's both terrifying and sad. Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance, and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.” Cox concedes there is room for improvement. “To everyone affected by this, thank you for working through this with us and helping us to improve the safety and authenticity of the Facebook experience for everyone.”     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 2nd October 2014 - 10:42am

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