Earlier this month, Facebook began deactivating the profiles of its drag queen users because they weren't using what the company considered to be their "real names." Activists met with Facebook, but to no avail. The accounts were briefly reactivated to give those users time to (as Facebook spokesperson Andrew Souvall said in a statement) "decide how they’d like to represent themselves." The company still stands by its real identity policy, however, and will suspend the profiles in a little less than two weeks, thereby forcing the performers to pay for a Page if they want to continue to use their drag name.
This term & condition has left many performers feeling outed. And, it puts their safety at risk, as well. Luckily, a force to be reckoned with has joined the side of righteousness: RuPaul.
Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, RuPaul explained that "there's no such thing as bad publicity" in showbiz when it comes to press. (Andy Warhol's "Don't pay any attention to what they write about you. Just measure it in inches" quote comes to mind.) "But it's bad policy," RuPaul continued, "when Facebook strips the rights of creative individuals who have blossomed into something even more fabulous than the name their mama gave them."
Amen, honey. Thankfully, Ello, a new social media site, started gaining traction this week. "We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment,” its manifesto reads. “Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life."
Currently, Ello is invite-only and touts a zero ad policy. It's still in beta mode and is far from perfect, but many drag queens have found some refuge in its growing digital safe space — and many will likely follow suit if Facebook doesn't loosen its grip on its real name policy.
After all, what's in a name, really? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. (The Hollywood Reporter )