Facebook's product chief, Christopher Cox,
apologized in a post on Wednesday and said the affected users
could go back to using their aliases.
The world's largest social media network had locked scores of
accounts in recent weeks, including hundreds belonging to
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
"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,"
Cox wrote, denying that the company's policy required users to
go by their legal names.
San Francisco drag queens and a city lawmaker met with Facebook
representatives in September to demand that the site change its
policy of banning users from going by aliases online.
Drag queen performers, or men who dress in flamboyant female
clothing for nightclub shows, usually use stage names that have
no relation to their real names.
Performers say using their stage names on social media protects
them from possible retribution from other employers, family
members and stalkers. Many see their stage name as an integral
part of their identity.
Facebook had said earlier that it would give users two weeks to
adjust their profiles to display their real name or convert
their personal pages into fan pages that allow the use of
The debate over the future of online anonymity is roiling tech
circles, with the outcome bearing profound implications for
Internet use around the world.
Facebook encourages internet users to log on and carry out their
digital lives with their offline identities.
But digital rights and privacy activists have questioned the
company's motives, saying the push to get people to use their
real identities online helps Facebook track user behavior and
tap personal data so it can send targeted advertisements.
In July, Google removed restrictions on use of aliases on its
Google+ social network, bowing to demands from users for
(Reporting By Arathy S Nair in Bangalore; Editing by Simon
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