Facebook says sorry for deleting drag queens’ accounts

Several hundred accounts were flagged by user as ‘fake’ due to use of drag names

Christopher Cox, Facebook’s chief production officer, said several hundred accounts had been flagged by a user as fake. He accepted many people had endured a “painful” experience and said they will be able to use their alternative names on Facebook.  Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Christopher Cox, Facebook’s chief production officer, said several hundred accounts had been flagged by a user as fake. He accepted many people had endured a “painful” experience and said they will be able to use their alternative names on Facebook. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

 

Facebook has apologised to transgender and drag queen account holders whose accounts were deleted for violating its policy on using real names.

Christopher Cox, Facebook’s chief production officer, said several hundred accounts had been flagged by a user as fake.

He accepted many people had endured a “painful” experience and said they will be able to use their alternative names on Facebook.

In a post, he wrote: “I want to apologise to the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbours, and members of the LGBT community for the hardship that we’ve put you through in dealing with your Facebook accounts over the past few weeks.”

Referring to two drag queen critics, he added: “The spirit of our policy is that everyone on Facebook uses the authentic name they use in real life. For Sister Roma, that’s Sister Roma. For Lil Miss Hot Mess, that’s Lil Miss Hot Mess.”

He said the issue had shown up the fact that “there’s lots of room for improvement in the reporting and enforcement mechanisms, tools for understanding who’s real and who’s not”.

Facebook is trying to create a safe community, he said, adding that a policy of requiring authentic names is still a good idea.

He said: “The stories of mass impersonation, trolling, domestic abuse and higher rates of bullying and intolerance are oftentimes the result of people hiding behind fake names, and it’s both terrifying and sad.

“Our ability to successfully protect against them with this policy has borne out the reality that this policy, on balance and when applied carefully, is a very powerful force for good.”

Press Association