Three weeks after SFist broke the story about Facebook's "real-name" crackdown on drag queens and performers a story that made headlines literally everywhere, because the internet loves drag queens it appears that the great and all-powerful social network has met its match. Sister Roma, Supervisor David Campos, and others headed back down to Menlo Park for a meeting this morning, and Facebook has apologized to all those whom they've offended. Though the exact policy changes remain TBA, a source contacted by Valleywag says Facebook is planning to revert to a "preferred name" policy instead.
The company is not likely framing this as a reversal, however, and it sounds like they may craft an exception for performers and the LGBTQ community, who in the ensuing weeks since this identity crisis began have repeatedly claimed that the policy is discriminatory. It's also been pointed out that abuse victims, teachers, and psychotherapists may want to be on Facebook under assumed names as well.
Rather than owning up to its discriminatory behavior, the company plans on insisting that it always defined "real name" as a person's preferred name. We're told the company will claim that its "real names" policy was being improperly enforced and that a "fix" is on its way.
Though we don't yet know what the wording of this new policy will be, via a release issued just after today's meeting we learn that Facebook has "apologized" and "agreed that the real names policy is flawed and has unintentionally hurt members of [the LGBTQ] community." S.F. Supervisor David Campos says, “The drag queens spoke and Facebook listened!... We have their commitment that they will be making substantive changes soon and we have every reason to believe them."
At issue still is the burden of having to weed out fake profiles among the authentic ones created under peoples' preferred, assumed, or stage names.
Sister Roma, a.k.a. Michael Williams, said today, after posting the above photo, "Off to Facebook Campus... Armed with letters and support from thousands of people with chosen and protective names. Your voice will be heard." There is now a victory rally planned tomorrow at noon on the steps of San Francisco's City Hall, and Facebook employees have been invited to attend. Harvey Milk Democratic Club President Tom Temprano, who was also at the meeting, tells SFist, "Everyone feels like they were heard. Facebook has a lot of LGBT employees and they did a lot of work on this, and we feel pretty satisfied."
It unclear whether Facebook was more bothered by the claims of discrimination, or by the shockingly rapid wave of signups for upstart network Ello last week, which may yet pose a threat (but who are we kidding).
But as Temprano succinctly put it on 48 Hills:
Oh Facebook, if only you knew the 11th Commandment: Don’t fuck with drag queens. Drag queens start riots, drag queens publicly highlight the deficiencies of others for a living, and most importantly drag queens generate more compelling and interactive content than just about any other users on your platform.
Anyway, it looks like the drama ends here, and the drag queens and everyone with a stage name can go back to filling our Notifications box with invites to their shows via names that we recognize.
This post has been updated throughout.
Previously: Anti-Facebook Social Network Ello Sees Major Spike In Sign-Ups
Zuckerberg Has Always Believed That We're Only Entitled To One Identity
Drag Queens, David Campos Meet With Facebook Over Real-Name Controversy
Drag Queens, Other Performers Outraged As Facebook Forces Them To Use Their Real Names [Updated]