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Drag Queens Declare Victory as Facebook Apologizes, Says It Will 'Fix' 'Real Name' Policy

Mtg

Facebook's head of product Chris Cox apologized on Wednesday to "the affected community of drag queens, drag kings, transgender, and extensive community of our friends, neighbors, and members of the LGBT community" for the "hardship" caused by the company's "real names" policy, which resulted in the deactivation of many accounts after the social network began to enforce rules requiring users to attach their birth names to personal pages.

A group of dissenters led by Sister Roma of the San Francisco chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence met with Facebook officials last month and reported afterward that the company would continue to enforce the policy, keeping accounts active for two weeks to people could decide whether to provide their "real" names.

The group had a second meeting today.

At today's meeting they were told of the company's promise to change the policy and offered the public apology by Cox, which you can read in full here.

CoxToday, Cox (right) said the company promises to "fix the way this policy gets handled so everyone affected here can go back to using Facebook as you were."

Said Cox:

The way this happened took us off guard. An individual on Facebook decided to report several hundred of these accounts as fake. These reports were among the several hundred thousand fake name reports we process every single week, 99 percent of which are bad actors doing bad things: impersonation, bullying, trolling, domestic violence, scams, hate speech, and more — so we didn't notice the pattern. The process we follow has been to ask the flagged accounts to verify they are using real names by submitting some form of ID — gym membership, library card, or piece of mail. We've had this policy for over 10 years, and until recently it's done a good job of creating a safe community without inadvertently harming groups like what happened here.

Our policy has never been to require everyone on Facebook to use their legal name. 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. Part of what's been so difficult about this conversation is that we support both of these individuals, and so many others affected by this, completely and utterly in how they use Facebook.

Cox also justified Facebook's "real names" policy as a point of differentiation from the rest of the internet, much of which operates on anonymity.

Cox added:

Second, it's the primary mechanism we have to protect millions of people every day, all around the world, from real harm. 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.

Cox says that the company is building better authentication tools "for understanding who's real and who's not" and a way to better communicate with those who are affected.

ElloIs it enough to prevent a mass exodus to upstart social networks like Ello, which has been described as "anti-Facebook" and has been attracting thousands of new members a day since the "real names" policy controversy began?

Well, a group of dissenters who had been planning a protest against Facebook for this Thursday at 12 noon in front of San Francisco City Hall have instead turned it into a Victory Party, writing:

GREAT NEWS: At our meeting Wednesday, Facebook acknowledged the flaws in their "real names" policy, stating that it was never their intention to require legal names and that everyone should feel free to use the names they go by in real life. We're also thrilled to report that Facebook's Chief Product Officer Chris Cox issued a sincere apology to our communities and agreed to take concrete action in the coming weeks to amend the enforcement procedures so that we won't have to deal with trolls again or show ID. We couldn't be happier, so we're turning this protest into a VICTORY RALLY!!!

Mark Snyder, Senior Manager, Communications at Transgender Law Center also released a statement to Towleroad:

"We had a very productive meeting with Facebook today in which they apologized for the way this situation has been handled, and they committed to making changes to the way they enforce their 'real names' policy to ensure that folks who need to use chosen names that reflect their authentic selves online are able to do so. We are excited to work in good faith with Facebook to address all the concerns raised in today's meeting. What was made clear today is that Facebook is ready to collaborate with our communities and shares our value of making sure everyone is able to safely be their authentic self online. We applaud the many staff at Facebook who advocated tirelessly for this progress."

(top image dragaholic news twitter)


Adore Delano and Alaska Thunderf--k Look 'F--kin' Cool' - VIDEO

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Adore Delano, one the finalists on last season's RuPaul's Drag Race, has released the music video for latest single, "I Look F--kin' Cool" featuring Alaska Thunderf--k and Nina Flowers. The song is the fifth single off her album, Till Death Do Us Party. The video takes dark glamour to a new level:

The video is set in a dystopian future, where an authoritarian, big-brother-like police force has enacted a coup ‘de fashion. All fashion and individualized self-expression has been banned in lieu of a military-esque uniform, but there are those that disobey. A small gang of rebel-punks led by Adore and Alaska (the two most wanted by the regime) have begun to band together using a sophisticated network called Jack’d to connect with like-minded individuals.

“It’s a bold, fiery, no-nonsense proclamation that we are all perfect exactly the way we are”, says Adore Delano of her latest track.  Delano admits that growing up in a suburb outside of Los Angeles, she was an outcast.  “A dark horse in a dark horse community,” she explains.

Watch the video, AFTER THE JUMP...

And ICYMI, watch Delano's previous videos "Party", "I Adore U", and, of course, DTF.

Continue reading "Adore Delano and Alaska Thunderf--k Look 'F--kin' Cool' - VIDEO" »


Minimalist Social Network 'Ello' Grows As Drag Queens Rally Against Facebook: VIDEO

Ello

Ello, a social network created by a group by a collective of artists and programmers, is positioning itself as the lightweight, minimalist alternative to Facebook that has no interest in selling you ads. The site, which is currently in beta and invite-only, isn’t exactly new to the scene. Ello first launched in March of last year, months before revelations about the NSA’s extensive collection of American telecom information. Ello introduced itself with a sign-up list and a straightforward manifesto that explained its creators’ vision:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make, and every link you follow is tracked, recorded, and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity, and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce, and manipulate — but a place to connect, create, and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

Like many other fledgling social networks positioning themselves opposite of giants like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, Ello’s initial growth was slow, steady, and fueled almost entirely by word of mouth. In the past week, however, Ello has seen exponential growth in its userbase for a number of easily identifiable reasons.

Ello began sending out invitations to its waiting list in earlier this July a month after Facebook was revealed to have been subtly manipulating its users for research purposes. Twitter, faced similar backlash following reports of its plans to begin algorithmically modifying users’ timelines to create a more tailored experience. Most recently Facebook drew the ire of many members of the LGBT community for its decision to enforce a “real name” policy forbidding users from creating profiles with non-legal names. A number of prominent drag performers, many of whom ran Facebook pages under their drag names, expressed their concern with the policy.

Sister roma“I use this site to keep up with friends and simply don't want employers or crazy stalker people to log on and search me.” Sister Roma [pictured right] of the San Francisco chapter of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence explained to SFist. “I want my friends to find me...I detest the idea of having a fan page. I'm not fucking Britney Spears. I have friends, not fans.”

Google Plus backpedaled on a similar policy earlier this year after a number of its users reported being outed to their social circles against their will. Unlike Google Plus, for whom its naming policy was the latest in a long line of social media gaffes, Ello’s creators have made it clear that users are free to inhabit the platform however they like.

“Artists, bloggers, people who are concerned about privacy, people who have had problems with stalkers, celebrities, and members of the LGBTQ community sometimes choose not to use their real names — out of personal preference, or to protect themselves,” Paul Budnitz, one of Ello’s creators, told BetaBeat.  “There is no reason for us to require people to use real names.“Ello doesn’t mine or sell data or have ads, so we invite people to be who they want to be.”

Ello’s sudden spike in popularity has drawn the public’s attention much in the same way that Diaspora, a crowdfunded social networking project, did in 2012. Like Ello, Diaspora marketed itself as an independent platform that empowered users to take control of their data without administrative oversight. Diaspora recently found itself back in the media spot after members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) began using the platform specifically because their activities could not be tracked or stopped by Diaspora’s moderation team.

Whether Ello manages to maintain its status as an exclusive, free-for-some outlet for digital art and expression remains to be seen, but demand for invitation codes remains high.

And if you missed Brigitte Bidet's catchy smackdown of Facebook's anti-drag queen policy "WTF, Zuck?" you can check it out AFTER THE JUMP...

Bidet

Continue reading "Minimalist Social Network 'Ello' Grows As Drag Queens Rally Against Facebook: VIDEO" »


Facebook Refuses To Change Name Policy After Meeting with Drag Queens, Temporarily Restores Deleted Profiles

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After the social network begin enforcing its 'real names' policy, requiring that all users go by their legal name online, drag queens who found their accounts shut down were in an uproar and successfully set a meeting with Facebook to discuss the policy. That meeting, also attended by openly gay member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Rudy Campos, took place today and did not result in any change on Facebook's part. The AP reports:

Facebook said it will keep the accounts active for two weeks so people can decide whether to provide their real names.

Several drag queens and Supervisor David Campos said at a news conference at San Francisco City Hall that they are disappointed that Facebook didn't change its policy after the two sides met for about an hour Wednesday. Campos said Facebook has agreed to another meeting.

According to The Bay Area Reporter, Campos also added, "After an hour of discussion, we have yet to hear from Facebook they agree the policy is wrong.”

Meanwhile, Sister Roma, one of the most vocal drag queens who has been opposing Facebook's policy, said she was ready to mount a large-scale protest if necessary, saying, "We're always ready to go." For the drag queens and for Mr. Campos, Facebook's policy represents a real danger for many at risk minorities:

"They're claiming they're trying to create a safe environment," but [Roma] and others have heard from people who have escaped abusive spouses and "the only outlet they have is through Facebook."

[Heklina] said safety is a concern for her. "I have crazy family members" who she doesn't want to be able to find her. [...]

Advocates said that LGBT employees at Facebook have been pushing their cause, and Roma said, "There are people on both sides of this issue within the company.” [...]

"This issue is way bigger than a bunch of drag queens complaining because we can't use our stage names," Roma said in a news release. "This policy is discriminatory and potentially dangerous to a variety of Facebook users, including abused and battered women, bullied teens, political activists, sex workers, and especially members of the transgender community; all examples of people who use pseudonyms to ensure their safety and privacy." 

(Photo via Twitter)


Jinkx Monsoon Serves Up A Side Of Saucy Glamour In Video For 'The Bacon Shake': WATCH

JinkxBacon1

Keeping with the edible themeDrag Race royal and extraordinary singer/actor Jinkx Monsoon has released a video for the second single off The Inevitable Album, "The Bacon Shake." Teaming up with the B-52's Fred Schneider, Ms. Monsoon looks sizzling and delicious as she transforms from nice to naughty in the vaudeville-inspired act. 

Jinkx spoke with Buzzfeed about the video:

“I really wanted the video to have an air of an old German cabaret club, or a naughty little gentleman’s club where this brassy broad is singing her heart out."

“The director, Steven Willis was totally on board with that treatment for this video, and we all unanimously agreed Fred Schneider HAD to be the bartender in this jazz joint..."

“I just hope it makes [the audience] happy and I hope it makes people wanna dance. It’s a catchy tune and I want people to tap their feet to it and sing along.”

Shake along, AFTER THE JUMP...

JinkxBacon

Continue reading "Jinkx Monsoon Serves Up A Side Of Saucy Glamour In Video For 'The Bacon Shake': WATCH" »


Facebook Agrees To Meet With Drag Community Members Following 'Real Name' Controversy

Heklina_drag_queen_performing

In response to a planned protest at their headquarters, representatives from Facebook have agreed to meet with Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence and David Campos, a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, about Facebook’s recent crackdown on the use of drag names.

Hundreds of drag queens found their public Facebook profiles deactivated last week after Facebook began to enforce its rules stating that all users must attach their birth names to personal pages. While members of the drag community were not explicitly targeted by the crackdown, drag queens seems to have been disproportionately affected given their tendency to embody their personae as public figures.

“I’ve had this name for 20 years now,” San Francisco-based performer Heklina explained to Tech Crunch “I walk down the street and people say ‘Hi Heklina.’ People know me by my drag name.”

Heklina claimed that every single drag performer that she knew in the Bay Area had been affected by Facebook’s enforcement of the policy, robbing them of the ability to keep their drag lives separate from their personal ones.

“This is like in the 1950’s when drag queens would perform at the club and then had to quickly change into their boy clothes after to keep from getting harassed,” she said, citing the many queens that were effectively forced to out themselves.

Initially Facebook responded by suggesting that drag performers attach their aliases to profiles featuring their actual names or create fan pages for their characters as an alternative. Fan pages, says Heklina, often don’t really capture what all it means to be a drag fixture in a local community.

“While many drag queens are 'out' about who they are, not all drag queens have that luxury," San Francisco Boardmember Scott Weiner wrote in a Facebook post. "Preventing drag queens from using the names that actually define who they are also puts a number of people in the untenable position of having to choose between telling the world that they’re drag queens and abandoning Facebook for their drag personas.”


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