Facebook apologizes to gay community, alters identity policy
Facebook is working on a way to verify the identities of people who prefer to go by pseudonyms rather than their birth names following pressure from gay rights activists.
In a post on Facebook on Wednesday, Chief Product Officer Chris Cox apologized to “the community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender” and the members of the LGBT community after the company mistakenly cracked down on their use of fake names.
“Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name,” Cox said. “The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life.”
Facebook is building better tools to authenticate “the Sister Romas of the world while not opening up Facebook to bad actors,” Cox said. The social network is also working to improve its customer service in an effort to prevent the abrupt dropping of accounts in these situations.
The move is a major milestone for Facebook’s “real-name” policy, which until now required that anyone using the social network had to identify themselves by the same designation they had on a government-issued identification card. For most people, this isn’t a problem, and for married people who want to display their married name, Facebook has already created a feature to do that.
It also isn’t the first time Facebook has changed its identity policies. Earlier this year, Facebook expanded the options people can use to define their gender beyond “male” and “female.” But this move changes a core feature of Facebook, its focus on true identify for the Web.