As they face another protest on June 1 by the LGBT community, Facebook has issued yet another statement talking around the issue of their "authentic names policy," suggesting vaguely that they've been adjusting how it's enforced, but saying nothing definitive about how they plan to protect vulnerable communities from the abuse they've been suffering as a result of it. (See some background here and here, but suffice it to say, it opens up trans people, the drag community, and others to frivolous "reporting" by individuals who wish to see their accounts suspended.) The latest campaign by local drag queens calls for #NoPrideForFacebook, saying that until the company shows more accountability around this issue, they shouldn't be allowed to participate in this year's SF Pride parade. (A petition to keep Facebook out of the parade currently has over 2,300 signatures.) Well, now SF Pride has come out in support of Facebook, but saying that they too are concerned about the policy.
Anyway, there's a lot of spin here, and it sounds like SF Pride would like to give Facebook a pass and let their employees march in the parade like they always do.
Here are the statements:
FROM SF PRIDE: The 45th Annual San Francisco Pride Celebration and Parade is a commemoration of the struggles the LGBTQI community has faced, a celebration of the victories we have won, and an acknowledgement that there are further barriers to dissolve before we reach full equality and fair treatment for every member of our community. We are one of the largest Pride events in the world, and it has been a core value for us to keep this event free and open to all. We recognize the significant role the support of our community and the support of our corporate partners play in helping to achieve this goal.
For many years, Facebook has been a consistent, and welcomed, partner of SF Pride. The company has been a strong ally of the LGBTQI community - from their custom gender options for user identities to their advocacy on behalf of LGBTQI public policy. The company has been an open supporter of marriage equality and joined amicus briefs to support striking down DOMA. SF Pride is grateful for the company's support and looks forward to its participation this year.
Members of our community approached us on April 29th, expressed ongoing concern about Facebook's authentic name reporting policy and the adverse effects it has on vulnerable members within the community, and petitioned us to exclude Facebook from participating in SF Pride. We take these concerns seriously and we acted immediately to meet with both the community members and Facebook to understand the issues at stake.
The SF Pride parade and celebration is an opportunity for us to bring together the diverse community of LGBTQI individuals and our allies to show solidarity in the face of our detractors. Along with this opportunity comes an obligation to the rights of the most marginalized members of our community. Part of our mission is education and liberation, which means helping to push the LGBTQI rights movement forward where we can. Facebook access is now a critical lifeline for so many people, and we are particularly concerned about the situation facing transgender youth who still may not have adequate documentation of their authentic names. SF Pride believes more must be done to address the negative effects of the Authentic Names reporting policy in order to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are not targeted.
Facebook has shown willingness in recent months to make improvements in the Authentic Names reporting policy, and has committed to continue quarterly meetings with organizers and stakeholders and to continue to work with recommendations to ensure that everyone can be on Facebook as their authentic self. Additionally, Facebook has agreed to participate in a community forum on this issue and to be represented by leaders within their organization who are empowered to authorize and facilitate further changes to the enforcement and reporting options associated with the policy. We believe that the best solutions can be found through keeping an open dialogue, and that is what we have requested of Facebook. We look forward to helping to facilitate and participating in these discussions; and we also look forward to the LGBTQI members and community allies on the Facebook team participating in our parade.
FROM FACEBOOK: Facebook is pleased to continue our support of San Francisco Pride by participating in this year's parade. We have been a strong supporter of the parade for many years, and our employees are excited to participate once again this year. We also look forward to San Francisco Pride joining our ongoing conversations with national and local LGBTQI leaders on ways we can continue to improve the enforcement of our authentic name policy. We firmly believe in and are committed to our authentic name policy, and we've made significant improvements over the last nine months in the way the policy is enforced. We look forward to ongoing discussions to make the experience even better for people who use Facebook. Specifically, we welcome recommendations from many community organizations on how to work more closely with the local and national transgender community and its leadership to improve their experience on Facebook.