Facebook Cracking Down on Stage Names for User Profiles

Rhett Pardon

SAN FRANCISCO — Drag personality Sister Roma has stepped up her argument against Facebook, taking to Twitter and letting followers know that "this issue is not going away."

Sister Roma is complaining about Facebook's "real name" policy that requires users to use their real identities on profiles in lieu of any stage names.

This week, Sister Roma said that she complied with Facebook's demands after her account, which she's had since 2008, was suspended by the social network giant.

And, apparently, Sister Roma wasn't alone. According to reports, Facebook has targeted other gay and trans personalities and performers, as well as at least one BDSM performer and director.

“I was automatically logged out and told my account was suspended because it appears that I’m not using my real name,” Sister Roma told the Daily Dot. “I was instructed to log in and forced to change the name on my profile to my legal name, like the one that appears on your drivers license or credit card.”

Sister Roma, who adopted the name 27 years ago,  said she added her name, Michael Williams, on her profile in order to get back into the account. But that's not who she is, she said.

According to Facebook, profile names cannot include symbols, numbers, unusual capitalization, repeating characters, or punctuation characters from multiple languages. Also banished are titles of any kind (e.g., professional, religious), phrases or nicknames in place of a middle name, as well as offensive or suggestive words. Nicknames can only be used if they’re variations on a real name.

Roma complied with Facebook’s demands, changing her profile’s name from Sister Roma to her legal name, Michael Williams.

Another drag personality, Olivia LaGarce, started a Change.org petition addressing the impact of Facebook's "real name" enforcement.

The policy has extended well past drag performers, who have made it be known that they have been disproportionately picked on by the social media giant.

According to a report on ZDNet, BDSM adult performer and director Julie Simone was targeted by Facebook last month over a "real name" violation.

Simone had her Facebook account changed to show her legal name, without advising her, she said.

"So Facebook reinstated my performer account but changed my legal name and had it locked for 30 days so I couldn't change it back," Simone said in a tweet.