Stop the "real-name" policy on Facebook

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My name is Gabby Sunflower. It's what I've been calling myself for years now and anyone who knows me in person or online knows me by that. However on Thanksgiving Day, I realized I couldn't access my Facebook because someone had reported my name. The app then informed me of types of ID's I could submit to them (the list is lengthy) to verify my name. After, I would have to wait for Facebook to accept my uploads and grant me access. While I was locked out of my profile my name wouldn't show up on any of my friends' profiles or searches. Entire albums, precious memories, and amazing friends that have built up over the years - gone in a single moment. After two months, I finally conceded to Facebook's demands and although I can go online again, I feel sad knowing I had to sacrifice the name I'd built an image for.  I finally understand why friends who have had their nicknames online for years, disappeared and either came back with their real names or had to make new profiles and start all over. 

According to Facebook, the "real-name" policy stems from the mentality of "that way, you always know who you're connecting with. This helps keep our community safe."    

Facebook is a place of self-expression and it's ridiculous to ask proof of the identity someone chooses online. Why should it matter in the first place? If anyone asks to add you and you exchange information, you know whom you're adding regardless of what they may call themselves. Furthermore, millions of users don't like putting their real information online due to several different reasons. Examples of those being: victims of domestic violence not wanting to be found by an abusive ex, not wanting to affiliate themselves with their families for personal reasons, being transgender and wanting the chance to call themselves what they want, sex workers not wanting to be found by employers or schools due to the dangers of losing their jobs or funding. Drag queens and members of the LGBT community alike have been reported for years and claims of these cases have been dated back to 2014. There have also been cases of real people, tribal members and individuals with foreign names, whose real names have been reported because they sounded fake. With this "real-name" policy in place, we are limited to calling ourselves whatever Facebook deems as sounding real enough and "as it would be listed on your credit card, driver's license or student ID."

We should have the freedom to call ourselves what we want. As long as it doesn't hurt or offend anyone else, this "real-name" policy hurts and isolates whomever it comes down on next. This gives users an ultimatum: either to sacrifice their identity for the sake of not starting over or make another profile under their chosen name until someone reports them again. I have spent years creating a reputation for my name and image as well as thousands of other people have. I don't want anyone else to go through this oppressive and emotionally jarring situation. The only way we can stop this is if we show Facebook that we will not let them control whom we identify as and I hope that others can stand with me. 



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