In one night, Facebook has destroyed the many years of work cosplayers have put into building their online communities. Facebook, giving no warning to their users, eradicated the profiles of many cosplayers because of their need to force users to apply their real names online (and appease their shareholders).
Facebook has ignored my attempts to reach them, so I will give you my two cents for those who lost your accounts and not sure what to do next.
I suggest we start “unfriending” Facebook.
Since many cosplayers now have to rebuild their community, I suggest before you do, to perhaps start looking at different websites to plant your flag. One site that has great potential is SocialCos, which allows you to keep your cosplay name and offers options for cosplayers to build communities there. (By the way, if any of you know of other websites that caters to cosplayers, please let us know in the comments below.)
Facebook now forces cosplayers to deal with anonymity issues. In a world where potential employers are now checking on Facebook to see who you are before they hire you, cosplayers no longer have the option of keeping their convention life separate. Also when cosplayers are harassed and bullied, it helps to have a separate profile so that no one has to worry about it spreading into their personal lives. I’m not the only that is thinking this, the Boston Phoenix also expresses similar concerns.
Some of you are thinking, “What about privacy settings?” Sure cosplayers can set it up so that only a close circle of family and friends can see their profile, but cosplayers are individuals who are very social and sharing. New friends are made at conventions and gatherings. There are groups on Facebook cosplayers love to interact in. And let’s not even talk about the large amounts of connections made by picture tagging! Having a second cosplay profile is necessary for these artists to share their love for cosplay but can also keep their identities a secret. Facebook Pages don’t allow you to socialize and network the way a profile would.
Facebook is adamant in pushing their policies to delete any accounts with “false names.” If that is the case, then I say let’s start looking into building new communities elsewhere. If I lived in a place where I am not wanted, but I know another place where I would be accepted with open arms, does it not make sense to go to that better place where myself and my friends won’t be mistreated?
Do you remember the story of Icarus? The boy who soared so high that they he forgot the fundamentals and fell to his death? Sometimes the same thing happens with corporations. Sometimes a corporation focuses so hard on attaining the highest financial goals that they forget the basics of customer service. And then they fall.
Are you listening, Zuckerberg?