Meta Verified's Legal Name Requirements Sparks Backlash from Sex Workers and Privacy Advocates

Admin | 2023. April 14. - 06:37

Meta Verified, a new service offered by Facebook parent company Meta, which provides a blue checkmark next to a user's name, is coming under fire from sex workers, transgender creators, and privacy advocates for requiring users to display their legal name on their profile without the ability to change it. Critics argue that the service is tantamount to doxxing and puts vulnerable communities at risk. To gain verification, users must provide a selfie video and government-issued photo ID, with the name on the ID being the user's profile name. Users can only change their name or profile photo by canceling their subscription, making changes, and subscribing again.

Sex workers have complained that the service's verification requirements are too limiting, and their legal name should not be public for them to be verified. Meta Support's response to Abigail Mac's Instagram verification request, requiring her to match the name on her government-issued ID, was called preposterous by adult performer London River. Meta Verified's display name requirement echoes Facebook's controversial real-name policy, which caused outrage among drag performers, transgender users, and other members of the LGBTQ community.

While being verified on Meta can help take down impersonators and catfish accounts, it is a double-edged sword for performers, as revealing their legal name can be risky. Adult performer Abigail Mac has experienced a 131% increase in accounts reached and a nearly 60% increase in engagement since being verified, but she cannot change her display name back to her stage name. The backlash against Meta Verified's ID requirements is similar to that of Facebook's real-name policy, which Facebook apologized for implementing in 2014.

The Meta Verified service costs $14.99 per month on mobile, with Facebook-only access costing $11.99 on the web, and includes direct account support, proactive impersonation protection, and exclusive stickers for Facebook and Instagram. However, the controversy surrounding the service's verification requirements highlights the need for greater flexibility in online identity verification that prioritizes user privacy and safety.