By now, we’ve all (hopefully) heard about this:
The world’s largest social network has decided to move forward with deleting all LGBT Facebook profiles who do not change their personal profile names to their legal names during a two week grace period. (from The Gaily Grind here, 9/18/14)
Many discussions around the interwebs have hypothesized the hows and whys behind this recent push to enforce something that’s technically “always” been FB’s policy (here). Some dimensions and considerations, etc follow:
Is this *just* about LGBT[Q] folks, as the quote above alleges?
In other words, is Facebook waging a homophobic attack on people who live their lives outside gender and/or sexuality binaries? Personally, I don’t think so.
This new push for enforcement will impact plenty of other people in addition to some (though not all) LGBTQ folks. Many members of the adult industry will be impacted and so will Lady Gaga and Lana del Rey – if they use their stage names on their personal pages, that is.
I kid about Gaga del Rey, but it’s actually not funny… Because some people use pseudonyms for stage names or just for fun – Dr. Chauntelle, for example – but others use them for safety and/or during the course of identity development. This is not limited to members of the LGBTQ community, though our society does still tend to target trans members of this acronym more frequently and more harshly than others. And trans folks also do tend to deal with issues of naming for safety and/or identity development more frequently than others.
Still, rather than this being a homophobic and/or specifically transphobic attack, I think this is just another instance of Facebook being crass, uniformed, and lacking nuance… all while expecting the general public to just go along with it.
It’s a money grab.
THIS sounds way more plausible to me.
If you force people with public personalities that may somehow justify the use of a pseudonym to have a FB fan page, the hits of which I hear are notoriously low, then the likelihood of you corralling people into buying your stupid ads and promoted posts, etc is greater.
And sure, lots of businesses are already doing this. But why not start gathering change from the lower tier – aspiring artists of various forms, writers musicians, and other personalities? Because though they may not be throwing down the same dollars as Lady Gaga (or whoever/whatever), a few hundred dollars multiplied by even a few hundred thousand users starts to add up.
Real vs. Fake?
This is a wider discussion that plagues me in every corner of my work – what is real, what is fake, and who gets to decide?
If Facebook is defining real and fake by proxy of legality – as in, legal name – then why not just say that? And if legal identity is the issue, why not just make a back end field that allows for legal name and another that allows for display name? They could match up, or not, but either way Facebook would get its data and people could maintain their identities and privacy in a relatively autonomous, safe manner.
But, it’s Facebook…
It’s no secret that I detest Facebook. They discriminate so blatantly and uncritically against the adult industry, and thus against me and my work too, that it’s almost too much. You can read about my run in with those inconsistent, hypocritical assholes here.
But, it’s Facebook – “the world’s largest social network” and a free platform that we don’t own. And as fucked up, dangerous, and discriminatory as any of this may or may not be, Facebook can do whatever Facebook wants with Facebook’s stuff. That’s their right. The only real power we have here is to relocate the power they’ve garnered by NOT participating in their bullshit.
Their game, their rules. Make your own game, make your own rules and – eventually, ideally – change everything overall.