#MyNameIs Rally at Facebook HQ on Monday
If you go by ‘Bunny’, ‘Kitty’, ‘Queen’ or some other nickname, you’ve got to fight for your right to go by ‘Bunny’, ‘Kitty’, ‘Queen’ or some other nickname on Facebook. That’s why the #MyNameIs campaign is organizing a protest at Facebook headquarters on Monday, June 1, taking the real names policy fight right to Facebook to defend the digital privacy rights of “thousands of users [who] are still being maliciously targeted, reported, and their accounts suspended for having an alleged ‘fake’ name.” Facebook’s policy has not only enabled widespread LGBTQI harassment, but also online harassment toward all manner of regular everyday peeps and members of disenfranchised communities.
“This isn’t just an LGBTQ issue, but one that’s affected numerous communities, including Native Americans, survivors of sexual and domestic violence, sex workers, teachers, government employees, mental health professionals, and the list goes on and on.” says #MyNameIs organizer and drag impresaria Lil Miss Hot Mess. “This policy is dangerous” says Red Hots Burlesque founder and co-organizer Dottie Lux, “especially to anyone not using the name on their ID as their real name: trans people, domestic abuse survivors, sex workers, performers, the Native American community and so many others.”
“Everyone is invited to join us for our protest on Monday,” Ms. Hot Mess told BrokeAssStuart.com. “We have two buses that will be leaving from the Castro Safeway in San Francisco, and have plans to carpool from there as well as from the East Bay. The best way to connect with others planning to go is through the Facebook invite. (The irony is not lost on us, the usefulness of Facebook as an organizing tool is one of the reasons we’re fighting this policy!)”
If you’re upset by the Facebook real names policy but can’t attend the protest on Monday, the movement will surely appreciate your signature on the Change.org petition to ban Facebook from SF and NYC Pride sponsorship. Considering how Facebook policies directly discriminate against LGBTQI people, they are a damned curious choice as a sponsor and their fancy-ass float maybe ought not be allowed premium placement in the Pride Parade.
Not all of the real names policy victims are drag queens, burlesque performers, sex workers or Native Americans. Some are just moms trying to live with their kids in peace and steering clear of an abusive ex.
Facebook Makes Life Harder for Domestic Abuse Victims
“I have a violent past marriage [partner] and never want him finding me and my/his daughter for fear of our lives and now my last name is on here,” said Burnin Merni, a nicknamed individual and abuse survivor. “I do have a fear of her father finding me and doing something bad.”
“No other social site does this,” Ms. Burnin correctly noted. Several other abuse survivors share their Facebook horror stories in Samantha Allen’s excellent Daily Beast article How Facebook Exposes Domestic Violence Survivors.
The penalty for hiding from an abusive ex with a pseudonym is a suspension from Facebook. This blame-the-victim tactic is a harsher penalty than it sounds, considering Facebook’s ubiquitous status for online communication and the fact that you need Facebook to log in to half of the fucking apps on your phone.
“I have had several friends ask me ‘Where did you go?, ‘Are you mad at me?’, ‘Why did you block me?’, ‘Why did you delete me?’ That hurts too.” Burnin Merni said “I am planning on taking probably all my pictures off soon.”
‘Real Names’ Can be a Privacy Nightmare
In a post-Gamergate world (not that we’re post-Gamergate or anything!), online publishers should realize the unprecedented level of harassment that some communities face. “As an out sex worker and porn performer, my legal name can and has been used to threaten me, my family, and my likelihood of finding work outside of the sex industry,” said out sex worker and porn performer Kitty Stryker, “Marginalized people, particularly women, trans people, and people of colour, have had their home addresses published and have received death threats for their activism work, or because of an abusive ex partner. ‘Real names’ have a dangerous power, and it is shortsighted for Facebook to demand users offer that power willingly to any stranger on the internet.”
“So far I have been challenged three times on whether ‘Kitty Stryker’ was ‘real’,” she said. “I’ve won every time, even though it’s disrupted my work (which requires *and pays* Facebook for marketing).”
Horror Stories Galore
“This week, we’ve started posting stories that users have sent us about how they use Facebook and how this policy has humiliated and harmed them,” Lil Miss Hot Mess said. “They really range from people just trying to connect with their friends and loved ones, to people who have had traumatic experiences and are looking for added privacy—many are really quite harrowing.”
“Just yesterday alone, we received stories from someone who has been stalked, multiple people who endured abuse from close family members, and an international gay rights activist working in a country where being gay is outright banned. All of them want better control over their privacy than what Facebook offers, and using a pseudonym is one way they do that.”
“We also heard from a former cop who fears retribution from a drug group they testified against, and another who works in a psychiatric hospital and needs to maintain boundaries with patients. Another user was told by some dude on Facebook that he hopes that a man beats her to death, and this jerk then reported her account for allegedly having a ‘fake name’.”
“Facebook claims that this policy is about stopping bad behavior, but the reality is that there are more direct ways to report and stop harassment or impersonation. Instead, this policy hurts more than harms the people who really need safety,” Ms. Hot Mess said.
The Protest Facebook’s ‘Real Names Policy’ rally is Monday, June 1 at Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park. Check the Facebook event page and the MyNameIsCampaign.org website for details and transportation options.