UPDATED with IMDb statememt: In a major victory for SAG-AFTRA and GLAAD, IMDb has initiated a new policy that will allow industry professionals to remove their dates of birth, birth names and other demographic information from its IMDb and IMDbPro sites.
SAG-AFTRA long had maintained that publishing actors’ ages without their permission fuels ageism, while GLAAD has argued that publishing transgender persons’ birth names without permission is an invasion of privacy that can put them at risk of discrimination.
IMDb said is a statement today: “As part of the active and ongoing consultation IMDbPro established with organizations specializing in anti-bias, bullying prevention, and diversity, equity, and inclusion, IMDbPro collaborated with these thought leaders to develop a series of significant product and policy updates to meet the unique needs of their communities and entertainment fans.”
Under IMDb’s the new policy — in an agreement worked out with SAG-AFTRA and GLAAD — entertainment industry professionals now can self-submit and/or verify their age/birth year, birth name, alternate names and other demographic information. They also can choose whether to display that data on the site.
“I’m so pleased that IMDb worked closely with us to understand and support the needs of SAG-AFTRA members and all entertainment industry professionals,” said SAG-AFTRA President Fran Drescher. “It is the dawn of a new, more collaborative relationship with IMDb and SAG-AFTRA members. Now, a performer can claim their page and manage their demographic data on their IMDbPro and IMDb pages for free. This means professionals can choose how they want to represent themselves to fans and industry decision-makers. And it will make it easier for casting directors, producers, and others to discover and hire talent from all backgrounds for their project. Bravo IMDb, for your inclusive and honorable approach. May every company follow your lead.”
SAG-AFTRA had sponsored a bill in the California Legislature that in 2017 required entertainment sites such as IMDb to remove or not post an actor’s age or birthday upon request. Signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, the law was struck down as “clearly unconstitutional” by a federal judge in a decision that was later upheld on appeal.
RELATED: GLAAD Says IMDb’s New Birth Name Policy “Remains Imperfect”, SAG-AFTRA Adds There’s “More Work To Do”
IMDb, however, has now agreed to give the union what it had been asking for all along – the ability of performers to remove their ages from IMDb and IMDbPro at no cost.
In a message to her members, Drescher noted: “Scores of people helped bring this to fruition and I want to recognize the many SAG-AFTRA committee members and staff who worked on this over many years. Their efforts helped bring us to where we are today. I think you’ll agree that this is a major step forward in championing diversity and providing many more opportunities for talent from all backgrounds to be discovered and hired by entertainment industry decision-makers. I am so grateful to all of the leaders at IMDb for their inclusive and honorable approach and their willingness to collaborate with SAG-AFTRA and so many others in the industry. I know that these enhancements will prove beneficial to our membership and support the IMDb mission to be the most accurate and complete source of entertainment information.”
Nick Adams, VP of the GLAAD Media Institute, said: “GLAAD knows that it’s crucial for LGBTQ professionals working in entertainment to authentically represent themselves, and the product and policy advancements IMDb is announcing today illustrate their commitment to supporting the entertainment industry’s evolution towards greater inclusion. We are proud to have worked closely with IMDb on these important updates.”
In a statement, Col Needham, founder and CEO of IMDb, said: “The significant updates we are announcing today reflect our continuing commitment to being the most accurate and comprehensive source of information about movies, TV shows, talent, and entertainment industry professionals. “As trusted sources for entertainment fans and industry decision-makers to discover talent from all backgrounds, IMDb and IMDbPro are uniquely positioned to help support and accelerate progress towards a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive entertainment industry. We are profoundly grateful to GLAAD, SAG-AFTRA, and other leading organizations for collaborating with us to support their communities and champion more inclusive discovery and hiring throughout the entertainment industry. By working closely with these groups, listening to our customers, and advancing our products and policies to empower entertainment industry professionals to self-identify and verify information about themselves and their careers – with the aim of helping industry decision-makers discover and hire them – we believe we are best supporting all IMDb customers and the entertainment industry overall.”