Facebook has recently launched a new crackdown on people using stage names, adopted nicknames, or drag names as their primary profile names, forcing local drag queens and Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence to suffer the indignity of using birth names that no one recognizes. From Facebook's perspective, this "helps keep our community safe," but from many other peoples' perspectives, it's just one more reason to despise Facebook.
Facebook has locked several local performers and Sisters out of their accounts in recent weeks informing them that they must revert to their given names and set up fan pages for their alternate personas. The problems with this are several. In the case of the Sisters, these are not necessarily performers with fan bases but more a community of people who identify by these alternate names in public more often than not. In the case of drag queens, many already have fan pages but have found those to be less reliable ways of promoting themselves than friend networks, which in most cases they've taken years to build.
Also there are the cases of people who have chosen to use alternate names, or pseudonyms, on Facebook precisely because they don't want to be found there by employers, family members, or nosey journalists. I know a number of these people.
Is anyone going to understand what's happening when Stefan Grygelko invites them to a party? No. Because very few people, relatively speaking, know that Heklina's real name is Stefan Grygelko. (For the record, Heklina's account seems safe for the moment.)
As Sister Roma who has been fomenting much rage on Facebook now under the name Michael Williams says, "I use this site to keep up with friends and simply don't want employers or crazy stalker people to log on and search me . I want my friends to find me...I detest the idea of having a fan page. I'm not fucking Britney Spears. I have friends, not fans."
Drag queens in Seattle have also been struck by this inconvenience, and as Seattle Gay Scene puts it, "Fan Pages/Like Pages...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." They're even calling the move by Facebook "quasi-homophobia."
While I won't go that far, I will say it seems short-sighted and discriminatory, and not something that they'll ever be able to adequately police. Facebook is used for many things by many people, and obviously the overlords down in Menlo Park don't understand that for small-time performers, a sudden switch over to a fan page means cutting off their established promotional reach.
One workaround that Facebook will accept appears to be registering a DBA, or "Doing Business As" name with the Small Business Administration, so that may help.
You can sign this petition if you want to send Facebook the message that this is bullshit.
Also, there's always Twitter!
Update: Following our story, CBS 5 picked up the story and interviewed Sister Roma. And as they point out, "How Facebook determines you are using your real name, that's still unknown."