I have written a piece about my experience with the Book of Face lately. Instead of targeting people who harass and intimidate others, regardless of the name they are using, they are shutting down profiles with “not real sounding” names if they can’t prove that’s their legal name. There are many reasons one would not want their legal name on the internet, psychologists with clients, people who have been stalked and harassed either in real life or online, performers, and trans people who haven’t been able to complete the process of changing their name yet. All have legitimate reasons for not wanting their legal name on the internet on a platform like Face Book with a less than stellar privacy record. Yet instead of owning their limitations, or even requiring a name on file that isn’t exposed to the public and letting people choose their public names, they are moving forward with closing accounts. I personally know or have met in real life, 9/10th of the people on my friends list, I have had my account for 5 years with no problems. I have paid to advertise my fan page, so I have participated in their economy. Yet I sit and wait to see whether that will all be erased by a key stroke over a flawed policy.
Posted to my personal page, September 21, 2014
Every time I search one of your names on G+ and come up empty I’m sad. I feel like I’m losing a kind of extended family. I’m only here because of all of you. FB really offers nothing that I can’t find anywhere else except for all of you. But even though I’ve spent so long getting to know all of you and sharing myself, FB doesn’t believe I legitimately exist. I feel hunted and afraid. FB has made me feel hunted and afraid. Some entitled asshole with high minded ideals of how safety *should* work can’t erase the fact that the first thing you tell a kid when they go online is that you don’t tell people your name. For their safety, to protect them. There is a reason that “outing” people is condemned in GLBT and other communities. It’s because people in marginalized groups know that no one can know better the circumstances of a person’s life and what they’ll have to deal with if they were out. They may be threatened, lose jobs, lose family. It is no one’s decision but the individual’s whether to tell others what they are all about.
I’m Fox in RL and online more than not. I’ve published, recorded and performed as Fox Smoulder for the last 13 years.
… You know what? FB has become just another abuser telling people they are crazy when they take legitimate steps to ensure their safety. FB has become just another bully telling people they can never choose their own identity or who they want to be in the world. And you know what they’ll say if I’m harassed and stalked online or in RL? Like any abuser they’ll say “well you shouldn’t have put yourself out there online.”
So yes. I’m gathering my things and trying to connect with you all elsewhere. You all are the reason I’m here and only a little everywhere else. I will be moving what community I’ve built here that I can to G+. Anyone who is over there circle me or whatever they call it.. And I’ll keep playing with people on Tumblr and Twitter. Pinning on Pinterest, blogging on WordPress and Livejournal and MySpace (sometimes) and I’m up in the air about Instagram, and my Fb fanpage. Because supporting in any way this kind of abuse even for a few cool filters or the ability to let you all know when my next show is, really rubs my fur the wrong way.
I do not take kindly to being threatened.
Some say the policy is as it is, deal with it. But the tech business has always had to change and shift as people begin to use products in unforeseen ways. Phones got microscopic, now they’re big again. Companies didn’t persist in only offering tiny phones when they found that people wanted different features. They even bought out contracts to get people into bigger phones sooner. That’s just good business when things change.
Like businesses, ideas have to change to successfully work when things change around them. The Book Face considering legal names as the only acceptable “real names” is a shit policy that needs to be rewritten. Why persist in offering a flawed product? Until the policy changes, real harassers and bullies will carry on, business as usual, but now with the explicit blessing of the platform itself, as long as the bullies use a “real sounding name”. Having a real sounding name or even their legal name, does not make hurtful people less assholes. These are people for whom accountability means nothing anyway. Not to mention that if Face began requiring a copy of an ID to open an account, no one would have ever signed up in the first place. People build community in unpredictable ways, sometimes with usernames, but that makes it no less legitimate. It just makes it harder for people with ill intent to find people’s street addresses. My bank needs my legal name, and that’s about it. Accepting accountability is not in a name, it is in the person and his/her actions.
Whenever self interested ideologues get power they seem to stop caring that their high minded ideals don’t work like they want them to in the real world, with real people. They start trying to force the world to fit their idea instead of adjusting their ideas to fit the rest of us. I speak as an artist. Artists are always among the first they come for. Maybe it’s because artists are often the ones that remind them of the human element, which they consider a flaw in humanity, rather than a flaw in their ideal plan to account for humanity. But it is a mistake to think people will participate in any community in which they do not feel safe.
A mistake that has yet to be fixed.
Interested in how I came to be known as Fox? What’s the big deal about a name anyway? Read here: What’s in a Name?