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Facebook Continues To Freeze Out Drag Queen Profiles

FacebookEarlier this month Sister Roma led the charge in convincing Facebook to roll back its “Real Name Policy” that was forcibly deactivating drag queens’ accounts at a disproportionate rate. Though activists eventually reached an agreement with the Menlo Park-based company, Roma is now reporting that a number of queens are still being locked out of the social network.

“Every time one or two get fixed, a handful get suspended,” Sister Roma explained to the Guardian. “So we really feel like we’re swimming upstream, and while I’m hopeful that Facebook is doing the right thing, it’s discouraging.”

Facebook began deactivating drag queens’ accounts after a single user reported hundreds for technically being in violation of the site’s policy. Facebook has stated that it encourages users to use their real names in profiles so as to hold them more accountable and prevent them from abusing one another beneath the guise of anonymity.

“We are committed to ensuring that all members of the Facebook community can use the authentic names they use in real life,” Facebook reps said in a statement. “Our team is busy working to improve the implementation of this standard so that some of the issues people recently encountered can be prevented in the future.”

Sister Roma is currently acting as a liason for all queens affected by the policy, and encourging them to contact her with their names, deactivated profile URLs, and an explanation as to how their drag identity is the public identity they wish to present. 


Rosie O'Donnell Speaks with Twitter Sleuth Who Helped Identify Suspects in Philly Gay Bashing: VIDEO

Fansince09

Twitter user @FanSince09, who played an instrumental role in identifying the suspects in the September 11 gay bashing in Center City, Philadelphia, appeared on The View to share why (and how) he decided to put his social media skills to work and help solve a crime. 

Said @FanSince09, who chose to keep his identity anonymous:

"I did maybe about 45 minutes of work, but with crowd sourcing, we got at least three people identified within two hours"

Find out how, AFTER THE JUMP...

Last Monday, a bill that would amend Pennsylvania's hate crimes statues to include protections for sexual orientation and gender identity passed the House Judiciary Committee 19-4.

Continue reading "Rosie O'Donnell Speaks with Twitter Sleuth Who Helped Identify Suspects in Philly Gay Bashing: VIDEO " »


Jimmy Fallon On the Pros and Cons of Joining Ello: VIDEO

Jimmy fallon

By now you've probably heard of Ello, the minimalist social network that became the "anti-Facebook" alternative following Facebook's "real names" policy controversy last month (a policy that has since been abandoned).

As Ello is still invite-only, many social networkers are curious to see if the site is worth joining once it opens up to the public. To help you decide, Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon has the pros and cons AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Jimmy Fallon On the Pros and Cons of Joining Ello: VIDEO" »


'Facebook VP' Apologizes to Drag Queens for 'Real Name' Policy on Ellen: VIDEO

Facebook_ellen

Last week we reported that Facebook changed its "real name" policy in response to outrage after the social network began to enforce rules requiring users to attach their birth names to personal pages.

Much of the anger over the policy came from drag queens, and a coalition led by Sister Roma of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence was instrumental in getting Facebook to change it.

Following the policy change, Facebook issued a formal apology.

Ellen DeGeneres spoke about the controversy on her show today and invited "Facebook VP Josh Blackenship" to apologize to a list of drag queens by name.

Watch it all go down, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "'Facebook VP' Apologizes to Drag Queens for 'Real Name' Policy on Ellen: VIDEO" »


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)


Sex and Queer Culture: Can Ello Succeed Where Facebook Won't Go?

WellEllo

The Interplay is a special bi-weekly series exploring the intersections of sex, pop culture, and current events.

BY CHARLES PULLIAM-MOORE

Last week everyone seemed to suddenly begin pushing Ello, artist Paul Budnitz’s style-centric social media platform. Ello’s major selling points--a clean design, pseudo-exclusivity, and a lack of advertisements--made it an obvious alternative to services like Facebook or Twitter. Most of the coverage about Ello, including our own, highlighted the contrast between the service’s “come as you are” ideology and Facebook’s recent doubling down on its “real name policy.”

A vocal contingent of the drag community is protesting Facebook’s naming policies and adding some credence to the idea that Facebook just isn’t as “cool” as it used to be. That being said, one-fifth of the world’s population logs onto Facebook every month, and the site is projected to control almost 20% of U.S. mobile ad market by the end of the year. As tone-deaf as Zuckerberg and co. may have been in their policing of online identities, Facebook, contrary to popular belief, is doing just fine.

Tumblr_mvrapdFibC1qz8q0ho1_500For all of the grand proclamations of user-empowerment made in its manifesto, Ello looks a lot like the social networks that came before it, when looked at objectively. Profiles are styled in a similar fashion to Twitter’s, and Ello’s endless scrolling bears a striking resemblance to Tumblr’s primary dashboard interface.

Despite thriving on the idea of being edgy and anti-ad, a number of high-profile brands (like Sonos and Netflix) have staked out spots in Ello. Even more interesting are the questions being raised about Ello’s early venture capital funding, something seemingly at odds with it anti-establishment ethos.

And yet in spite of all that Ello is growing.

Ello doesn’t seem to have a means of determining a user’s sexual orientation, but Budnitz has said that his team has seen a particular spike in new LGBT users. According to Budnitz, Ello’s LGBT userbase is playing a “particularly helpful [role] in shaping their development going forward,” which could mean a number of different things.

In the past non-dating social networks designed with gay men in mind have tried--and generally failed--to carve out a unique space for themselves. Fab.com, the one-time wunderkind of daily deals, began in 2010 as Fabulis, a gay Facebook clone without an obvious business model. Fabulis’s decision to reinvent itself as an e-commerce hub says a lot about the viability of a “gay social network.”

So what is it, then, that Ello is doing to solidify itself as the queer-friendly anti-Facebook? Well for starters, it’s pro-porn.

Sex-positive tech journalist Violet Blue recently took to Twitter to warn her followers that an early version of Ello’s terms of service prohibited posting work-unfriendly content. Justin Gitlin, one of Ello’s lead developers quickly responded to Blue, asserting that Ello’s position on racier content was quickly evolving.

Screenshot 2014-09-29 09.14.32“We don’t have a problem with porn at all,” Ello creator Paul Budnitz clarified to BetaBeat “But we would have a problem with (adult content) that encourages people to hurt each other, or anything that has to do with children.”

As timely as comparisons to Facebook may be, Ello would have a much better shot at becoming the social for edgy, artistic gays by borrowing from Tumblr. Though Tumblr has made a name for itself for being a lightweight, customizable blogging tool for the masses, the service owes a large part of its success to its highly active community of pornography curators.

Tumblr hosts a wide variety of mature content ranging from hardcore, animated gifsets to erotic prose and poetry. Diving into Tumblr’s depths proves not only that Rule 34 is very real, but also that vibrant, engaged non-sexually explicit communities can exist on the same platform as the raunchiest of skin flicks. Straddling that gap could be the key to Ello’s future success.

Queer Young Cowboys, a St. Louis-based micropress, specializes in smart, stylish literary raunch. QYC creator Johnny Murdoc explained that his interest in Ello went beyond seeing an opportunity to grow his brand.

Screenshot 2014-09-29 16.40.35“I know I'm getting a more authentic report from the writers and artists I follow, and not just the narratives or work that fit within guidelines,” he said. “Guidelines have never been friendly to queer creators, especially when it comes to sexual content.”

Artists working in adult spaces, Murdoc says, have worked around the limitations imposed by platforms like Facebook and Instagram, by tailoring their content to fit within acceptable parameters. But that ingenuity comes, at least in part, with a degree of creative censorship.

“There may be a post about some new thing, but they're never showing the new thing, especially with visual artists.” he described. “I know some creators who are dogged by people who report any risqué content, and that leads them to talk about their work in other venues rather than risk being shut down.”

Projects like QYC aren’t uncommon, but all too often their signal gets lost in the social media noise as a result of having to contort their messages to fit within narrowly defined standards of acceptability. How many more independent films like Travis Matthews’s I Want Your Love and In Their Room might have a chance to flourish if only their creators were given a central, social hub in which to share and spread their ideas?

Whether Ello intends to become that hub remains to be seen, but being known as the digital epicenter of risqué, avant-garde content creation certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.


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