Facebook is once again facing protests for its controversial "real names only" rule.
A group of picketers, including a prominent San Francisco drag queen group, turned up outside Facebook's Menlo Park headquarters today, complaining that the Facebook policies leave them open to discrimination. Native Americans and domestic-violence victims also protested against the rules.
According to The San Francisco Chronicle, there to witness the protests firsthand, the groups argued that the "real names" policy on Facebook leaves many vulnerable to harassment and bullying.
"Users still have the option to flag someone’s name for being fake, which encourages discrimination, bullying, and malicious behavior for simply exercising our right to self-identify," one protester, drag queen Lil Miss Hot Mess, told the paper.
Facebook has been criticized for its policy that requires all users to register under their real names, rather than aliases. Drag queens have argued that requiring real names keeps performers from setting up pages using their stage names, or forces them to unmask their identities in order to maintain a Facebook page.
Domestic violence survivors have argued that the real names policy could put them in danger of retaliation, while Native American groups say that they have been unfairly targeted by Facebook because indigenous names run afoul of the "real names" policy.
Though Facebook updated its names policy last year, protesters argue that the measures do not do enough to prevent abuse and discrimination.
Facebook declined to comment. A spokesman for the website told us Justin Osofsky, veep of global operations, and Monika Bickert, head of global product policy, joint-blogged earlier today: "We firmly believe in and are committed to our authentic name policy, and ask that everyone on Facebook use their authentic name on their profile." ®