Earlier this week Facebook started enforcing an existing policy that requires people to operate under their legal names. But that policy has several people from the drag community up in arms after the social network forced them to change their profile names.
Sister Roma is one of the many performers who says Facebook is now forcing her to operate under her legal name. Roma, a well-known LGBT activist, claims being forced to change her name is discriminatory.
Roma told Ars Techinica: "I've heard from women who are trying to escape an abusive relationship, sex workers, burlesque performers, and activists who don't want their real names exposed for fear of discrimination in the workplace and trans people who have finally found peace with themselves and their sexual identity who are being forced to revert to names that they associate with a dark and dismal past."
Facebook says its reason for the policy is to keep the community safe so users can always know who they're connecting with. It has also said that it only reviews a page when a problem has been reported from a member of the community, which possibly means someone sent complaints about the names of these drag queens.
Business Insider spoke to a Facebook representative who detailed other options for performers wishing to use a pseudonym. They could make it so an alias appears alongside their real name on their profile page or create a separate Fan Page for that persona.
However creating one such page deprives the user of certain features such as sending and accepting friend requests and writing private posts under that identity.
This sudden crackdown might be a discrimination issue to some, but it might also be a financial decision.
Slate writes that Facebook potentially stands to profit by forcing performers, such as these drag queens, to create a Fan Page because it requires users to pay for the promotion of posts from those pages.
The Guardian quotes a Seattle performer who said the format of those pages simply don't make sense for the majority of people affected by this policy. "We are not businesses selling products, we are encouraging our friends to come to our events and performances, promoting charitable causes, and making calls to political action, with occasional mundane daily life updates like every other Facebook user."
As of Saturday afternoon, a Change.org petition asking Facebook to allow performers to use their stage names has gathered more than 8,000 signatures.
This video contains images from Getty Images.