In high heels, feather boas and nun habits, the Sisters of Perpetual indulgence flanked by at least 50 community supporters of all stripes protested at Facebook’s doorstep in Menlo Park, Monday.
Facebook’s “authentic name” policy allows users to report those they believe are using fake names, which protects users, Facebook says. But local drag performer Sister Roma as well as Lil Miss Hot Mess say the policy has the opposite effect: Allowing bigots to target drag queens, drag kings, transgender people and others who use their chosen names.
Notably the protest dovetailed with Olympian Bruce Jenner’s announcement of her authentic identity, Caitlyn Jenner.
Many wondered aloud, would Caitlyn Jenner also be banned from Facebook? Many other groups say pseudonyms protect them on Facebook, including domestic violence survivors. Those with non-Eurocentric names, like Native Americans, also say their profiles were wrongly banned.
A contingent of the “MyNameIs” protesters rode two charter buses, paid for by Facebook rival, Ello, to Facebook HQ to protest. Police escorted protesters off of Facebook property and onto the sidewalk.
“Domestic violence survivors live in the shadows,” co-organizer Trisha Fogleman told the crowd, on the need for pseudonyms. “We have to protect ourselves. But we still want to be connected to community and to people that we love.” Sadaisha Shimmer, a woman who identifies as transgender, said her name was also rejected by Facebook.
“Sadaisha means new princess, it’s an Indian name,” she told the crowd, “and Shimmer, god gave us that, didn’t he?”
Much ire was directed at the San Francisco Pride board of directors, who recently voted (5-4) to allow Facebook to stay in the Pride Parade, despite opposition from LGBT communities.
“What will we do about Pride?” one protester shouted to Sister Roma, who replied, “they were duped like we were, by Facebook.”
Roma, Supervisor David Campos and other community members negotiated with Facebook for eight months to modify its authentic name policies. Campos said the social media giant didn’t budge.
Previous reports by The San Francisco Examiner revealed Mark Zuckerberg called the Pride board personally, which may have swayed its vote to keep Facebook in the parade.
“They had an opportunity to stand up for us,” performer Alex U. Inn told the crowd, who was also told by Facebook his name was not authentic. “It takes one call from Zuckerberg and $15-25,000? That’s all it takes?”
“I’m sorry, but that’s weak.”