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July 8, 2011 11:21 AM   Subscribe

What Do You Do When Your Only Online Identity is a Pseudonym? In a move reminiscent of recent Facebook purges, a well-known Second Life user (whose only online presence is pseudonymous) finds his new Google+ account deleted, allegedly for not being a real person. Whether this move is directly related to the limited-beta status of Google+ or not, questions remain for those who have been 'unpersoned' by Facebook and hopeful that Google's laissez-faire attitude toward personal identification would make G+ a friendlier environment - particularly given Google's encouragement - as recently as February of this year - to "be who you want to be" when using Google services.
posted by tpoh.org (189 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Advertisers probably don't pay much for the personal data of a non-person.
posted by DU at 11:24 AM on July 8, 2011 [21 favorites]


One of the things I've really enjoyed about Google+ (and to an extent, Quora) is their non-anonymity.

The internet isn't running out of places for people to be anonymous; for someone to steamboat into + with a pseudonym when everyone else is putting their real-world self out there is like crashing a quiet dinner party with a full-on costume.
posted by bonaldi at 11:27 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


For practical purposes, all of our online identities are pseudonyms. Some are a little more easily traceable to our physical selves, some are less, but it has nothing to do with whether the name is normal-sounding.
posted by hattifattener at 11:28 AM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I use a pseudonym. It also happens to be the name I increasingly use in every interaction.

Google has a "also known as" section on their profiles. I think they know people are often pseudonymous online, and don't care. I would guess the issue here is that the person seemed like a spammer using a false identity. Spammers are already trying to hack Buzz (to what end? I don't know.) I expect Google is doing everything possible to keep them off their new toy, and there will be collateral damage.

That doesn't make it right, but I expect that's a more likely answer than "Google does not allow pseudonyms."
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:33 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


One could argue that a full-on costume reveals more about a person than a three-piece suit.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:33 AM on July 8, 2011 [16 favorites]


Digenes/carpet trample
posted by clavdivs at 11:33 AM on July 8, 2011


If you're on Google+, please use the "Send Feedback" link in the right-lower corner to explain Google that a Second Life nickname/picture can be a legit identity to use.

A Second Life avatar is "a legit identity to use" in Second Life, for sure. In First Life, not so much. This is a stupid, pointless complaint made by someone who has mistaken one for the other.
posted by dersins at 11:33 AM on July 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


For practical purposes, all of our online identities are pseudonyms. Some are a little more easily traceable to our physical selves
This really contradicts itself. If an identity is very easily traceable to your physical self, then for practical purposes it is not a pseudonym.
posted by bonaldi at 11:33 AM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


"One could argue that a full-on costume reveals more about a person than a three-piece suit."

One could also argue that, to many of us, a three-piece suit is a full-on costume.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:35 AM on July 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't put my real world name anywhere near things that aren't family or career - and even then, only nicey-nice "how's the baby doin'?" family stuff.

Companies, individuals and governments have decided they're gonna hold you accountable for everything you say online, to their idea of accountability. If you're the slightest bit strident, or odd, or goofy, or bitter - they're going to fire you or sue you or put you in jail. You're powerless to stop them without an ironclad pseudonym, and maybe a trusted proxy or two for good measure.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:35 AM on July 8, 2011 [27 favorites]


One of the things I've really enjoyed about Google+ (and to an extent, Quora) is their non-anonymity.

Me too. It was also something I enjoyed about Facebook for a long time and that made it considerably more useful than Friendster or MySpace. Now I have friends I've known for years who change their Facebook names to something incomprehensible and set their photo to be something totally random, and when they post a comment on my wall, I can't figure out who they are without investigation.
posted by grouse at 11:35 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


@bonaldi: "When it comes to Google services, we support three types of use: unidentified, pseudonymous and identified." It would seem that the host okayed costumes in well in advance advance.

It's not as though Google can't link user accounts with real-world information (i.e., anyone using an Android-based phone or a Chromebook or any Google service on the Internet for that matter). Also, it's not as though people who use pseudonyms online don't buy products or use services.
posted by tpoh.org at 11:37 AM on July 8, 2011


I've been going by a pseudonym online since 1997 and have been calling myself that name offline for nearly 10 years now. Many of my close friends don't even know my given name. My pseudonym is something I identify as. If google+ were to force me to use my given name I would have a hard time using it. People wouldn't even know it was me.
posted by jojomnky at 11:38 AM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hehe, I have the opposite reaction, now i see real names and faces of people I have no idea.. until it dawns on me: "ah that's h88t and that's SirShackelbury and that's Bernbachs.."
posted by dabitch at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


tpoh.org, Google + has different standards. They want the name your family uses. I'll bet his mum doesn't call him "opensource".
posted by bonaldi at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2011


It's not Brandon Blatcher again, is it?
posted by stet at 11:39 AM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank you mr_crash_davis.
posted by adamvasco at 11:40 AM on July 8, 2011


Advertisers probably don't pay much for the personal data of a non-person.

They're still people. Advertisers shouldn't care until you whip out the credit card.

They want the name your family uses. I'll bet his mum doesn't call him "opensource".

So, "Sweetie" is OK?
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:42 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, "Sweetie" is OK?
If all your friends and family call you that as a name (rather than a term of endearment), I imagine it is. There's a "Bunny [Surname]" on mine.
posted by bonaldi at 11:44 AM on July 8, 2011


So far Google+ doesn't seem to have much to offer over Facebook except not actually being Facebook (yes I've seen the comic strip). There's really nothing bang-wow going on over there.
posted by Legomancer at 11:44 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


@bonaldi: Some people don't communicate in the online world with the name their family uses. I don't see this as limited to a virtual-world environment. For example, I'm quite certain that Mos Def's family refers to him as "Dante Smith".
posted by tpoh.org at 11:44 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


There's a "Bunny [Surname]" on mine.

Holy crap! Mine too!

So this is what it sounds like when the doves cry.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:46 AM on July 8, 2011


In that case, you guys should start referring to me as Mos Def.
posted by shakespeherian at 11:46 AM on July 8, 2011


Well, if they insist on having my real name, that guarantees I won't join Google+. There's no point in it - I have Facebook for all my nicey-nice share-with-family stuff. No one IRL calls me desjardins, but it's just as good as a real name online. I'm still the same person whether I use desjardins or [redacted] for my name.
posted by desjardins at 11:47 AM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


Some people don't communicate in the online world with the name their family uses.
I don't buy the stage name example, because that still links to the same person; the identity links to the real human.

Opensource, however, could easily be a collective or god-knows-what. The identity masks the real human.
posted by bonaldi at 11:48 AM on July 8, 2011


There really should be places where they insist you be real and not a pseudonym. Look, I know why some people want and need privacy, but I also think there's something to be said for some communities to say "Look, I respect you desire to be anonymous, but this isn't that place."

As long as Google's up front about this policy, I've no problem with it.
posted by inturnaround at 11:48 AM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That's interesting. I just got on google+ and I indeed experimented with my name and got very anonymous stuff to work, and even got "Ⓙ Ⓜ" to work.
posted by fuq at 11:50 AM on July 8, 2011


@bonaldi: The pseudonym can often bring out the individual as well. Really, how well are you going to know the person in the three piece business-suit with all of his business contacts in his profile and a photo of his wife and kids? For that matter, how do you really know if the name and the face in the profile is *really* the name and face behind the screen? (Case in point: Lesbian bloggers who didn't turn out to be lesbians at all - or women, for that matter.)
posted by tpoh.org at 11:51 AM on July 8, 2011


I don't put my real world name anywhere near things that aren't family or career -and even then, only nicey-nice "how's the baby doin'?" family stuff.


Well that's fair- don't use Google+. No need to get all ranty about it, it's not like it's the welfare or tax office. It's a luxury, not a necessity.

But then again, don't expect Google +, or any particular privately held site to bend over backwards to cater to your particular online identity quibbles. In fact, other than metafilter, may I suggest that Usenet would be prefect for your needs? I see all kind of anonymous ranting there daily.
posted by happyroach at 11:53 AM on July 8, 2011


This is a stupid, pointless complaint made by someone who has mistaken one for the other.

I know, dersins! What sort of loser idiot uses a pseudonym to interact socially with people that only know them by that pseudonym? Now, is dersins your first or last name?

Also, calling it: Google's fine with pseudonyms, opensource obscure just got hit with a suspension because they had a disproportionate amount of contacts in a very short time *and* their name sounds like a company or some other similarish spammy name.
posted by flatluigi at 11:54 AM on July 8, 2011


I just got on google+ and I indeed experimented with my name and got very anonymous stuff to work, and even got "Ⓙ Ⓜ" to work
They're post-vetting. See how long the name sticks around for.

For that matter, how do you really know if the name and the face in the profile is *really* the name and face behind the screen?
Networks of trust. I think Kaycee Nicole would have lasted a much shorter time in a space where pseudonymity wasn't supported. EG If you're claiming to be someone on Facebook, and none of your supposed "friends" are tagged to real profiles in any of your pictures or leaving comments on your wall etc, you're probably lying. Deception is much harder when you have to spoof an entire network of people.
posted by bonaldi at 11:55 AM on July 8, 2011


The answer to the titular question seems to be obviously one of the following:

1) Make a new online identity.
2) Don't use Google+.

I honestly don't see the problem. "A website some other people made doesn't do the thing that I want."

Well, too bad.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 12:00 PM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


I know, dersins! What sort of loser idiot uses a pseudonym to interact socially with people that only know them by that pseudonym? Now, is dersins your first or last name?

Oh, what a burn! You totally got me! I'm such a hypocrite! I was totally saying that anyone who ever uses a pseudonym on any part of the internet is a loser idiot! That's it exactly! I certainly wasn't saying that people who confuse their online pseudonym for their legal offline identity are mistaken about what "legal, off-line identity" actually means.
posted by dersins at 12:03 PM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


@flatluigi: Then Google could have certainly used their own search engine to determine that. 37,100 search results for an exact search of the name, and clicking deep into those results, they all would appear to refer to the same individual.
posted by tpoh.org at 12:05 PM on July 8, 2011


I have been wanting to deactivate my FaceBook account for years because usability is such a huge problem. If there's something I want to share, but only with certain people, I have to create systems for that. And whenever FaceBook changes their design or privacy settings, I have to do it all over again. This has resulted in my FaceBook account itself turning into a mushy useless liability that I honestly don't like having associated with my name.

Google+ looks promising in that arena. Google's tools have always been user-friendly, and their social network management tools are particularly easy to use and understand. Creating circles the way Google+ lets you means you can put up walls that indicate you desire privacy around certain issues. The information is probably still accessible by anyone who really wants it, but by sharing within circles you're saying, "I shared that with a limited group, so you shouldn't acknowledge it if you're not in the group."

I think, with that in mind, using a pseudonym on Google+ is kind of superfluous. Boundaries are integrated into the service, so it's less likely you'll need to worry about your mom seeing a picture of you doing whatever weird thing would freak her out.
posted by brina at 12:07 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This really contradicts itself. If an identity is very easily traceable to your physical self, then for practical purposes it is not a pseudonym.This really contradicts itself. If an identity is very easily traceable to your physical self, then for practical purposes it is not a pseudonym.

Pseudonymous does not mean anonymous.
People use pseudonyms for a variety of reasons, not just anonymity.
posted by madajb at 12:12 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think we need to distinguish between identity and pseudonym. desjardins is ME, in that I don't lie or disguise or even really obfuscate who I am, what I do and what I like. desjardins is a pseudonym. If I said I was a porn star, that would be an identity.
posted by desjardins at 12:13 PM on July 8, 2011


@brina: True enough, unless your established online presence, the one most people would search for, is pseudonymous. This would be one of those circumstances. It's a matter of visibility.

And in some cases, continued gainful employment.
posted by tpoh.org at 12:13 PM on July 8, 2011


I mean, there's no reason you people need to know my real name, it's not like I'm filling out legal forms on mefi.
posted by desjardins at 12:14 PM on July 8, 2011


I mean, there's no reason you people need to know my real name, it's not like I'm filling out legal forms on mefi.

And there's no important need for you to be on G+. There's not a problem here.

You can be pseudonymous when and where you like in places that allow it. G+ insists on real names.
posted by inturnaround at 12:16 PM on July 8, 2011


Yeah, I get that, I don't have any God given right to be on G+ or Facebook or anything else for that matter. Doesn't mean I don't think their policy is shortsighted.
posted by desjardins at 12:19 PM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I like doing stuff under my real name. It forces me to hold myself accountable for my words/actions. In fact, I was just talking to some Mefites on G+ (just got on today! woo!) about whether online disinhibition effect is stronger here because we're just jokey names on a screen.

(That being said, their privacy/filtering features over at google+ are terrific.)
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:20 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I'm sure they'll allow at some point a way to link a pseudonym to your identity so it can be used in addition to, but not in place of your real name. (If they don't already do that)
posted by inturnaround at 12:22 PM on July 8, 2011


First of all, your identity is not your name Or your pseudonym. Your identity is who you are, what you think, your emotions, perceptions, etc. These are partially reflected in the things you write on line, and the pictures you take, or the bits of the world you value.

The name you use online is simply a field in a database table, and requiring the use of a name online that matches the one on your driver's license is simply Google's way of using one to look up the other (in connection with all of the other fields they ask you to provide).
posted by Pastabagel at 12:22 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Pseudonymous does not mean anonymous.
Pseudonym means "false name". Google wants your real name. Contra hattifattener, we can use our orthonym online, practical purposes or not.

For most of us, the pseudonym insulates or protects a real name, doesn't substitute for it. Desjardins may be an identity, but he, she or the team of people positing themselves as "desjardins" could discard that tomorrow if required. A real name is a harder thing to shed.

I'm happy dealing with identities and pseudonyms. I find the level of connection that comes from dealing with real names offers something extra, as PhoBWanKenobi suggests.
posted by bonaldi at 12:23 PM on July 8, 2011


@desjardins: Exactly. And let's face it, if someone is creating a Google+ account for their virtual-world avatar, chances are pretty close to 100% that they intend to network primarily (if not exclusively) with other members of their virtual environment. And there's really no mistaking a photo of an avatar with a real human being. If your web of trust excludes "anyone whose profile photo looks like a screen-capture from a video game", then there you go - problem solved.
posted by tpoh.org at 12:24 PM on July 8, 2011


chances are pretty close to 100% that they intend to network primarily (if not exclusively) with other members of their virtual environment.
Did Second Life shut down, or something?
posted by bonaldi at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2011


G+ insists on real names.

No it doesn't.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:25 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


More specifically, here are their rules.

Some salient points:

Google services support three different types of use when it comes to your identity: unidentified, pseudonymous, identified.

If you use your full name, you'll help people find you online and connect with the right person. If you’re referred to by more than one name, just choose one, and place the others in the “Other names” section of your profile.

They recognize that people have more than one name they use, and nowhere do they demand it be your legally recognized name in the real world.

The key here seems to be that this user was flagged as a spammer. I am sure it can all be resolved via emailing the company.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:28 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


In fact, I was just talking to some Mefites on G+ (just got on today! woo!)

Hey, me too. Is there a MeFi circle you found or something, or did you get added by someone? When I say "me too," I mean "two minutes ago," so I'm still poking around.
posted by adamdschneider at 12:29 PM on July 8, 2011


First of all, your identity is not your name Or your pseudonym. Your identity is who you are, what you think, your emotions, perceptions, etc.

That's all very deep and philosophical and whatnot, but try pulling that one out when you're stopped for speeding, or trying to get on an airplane, or applying for a job or a loan, or cashing a check at the bank. Rightly or wrongly, that's the category Google's chosen to put Google+ into.
posted by dersins at 12:30 PM on July 8, 2011


@bonaldi: Apparently not.
posted by tpoh.org at 12:30 PM on July 8, 2011


Here ya go, adamdschneider!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:30 PM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Pseudonyms are like bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:32 PM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


I certainly wasn't saying that people who confuse their online pseudonym for their legal offline identity are mistaken about what "legal, off-line identity" actually means.

This is what bugs me. I see no legitimate reason why using one's legal offline identity should be a prerequisite for using a totally online public service for communicating with people online. I think it's appropriate to use your legal offline identity on sites and networks that are somehow actually tied to your legal offline identity, but across the general web, the push against pseudonyms is something that bothers me.
posted by byanyothername at 12:34 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Desjardins may be an identity, but he, she or the team of people positing themselves as "desjardins" could discard that tomorrow if required.

No. desjardins is a pseudonym. I have one and only one identity. I use two names - the one that's on my driver's license and desjardins. Under either name, I'm still a 36 year old married white female in Milwaukee with two dogs and two cats and a Master's degree.

If I were to post as desjardins and tell you I'm a gay porn star living in the south of France, that would be an alternate identity.

Yes, I can hit the big red button and come back here under some other name. Unless I started lying, I would still be the same identity. And people would probably catch onto that sooner or later, as has happened with various users here before. Most people know that [user A] used to be [user B] and as such, the change in pseudonym has no effect on the user's identity.
posted by desjardins at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2011


@dersins: When a social networking service becomes the criteria for determining the identity of a person for the purposes of boarding an intercontinental flight, then I suppose it becomes an issue.

But when that time comes, the social network won't be Facebook or Google+. And it won't be privately owned. And membership won't be voluntary.

Until then, the comparison is apples and oranges.
posted by tpoh.org at 12:35 PM on July 8, 2011


@byanyothername: The simple answer? "You haven't been clicking enough banner ads for the last ten years."
posted by tpoh.org at 12:36 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


nowhere do they demand it be your legally recognized name in the real world.

Well, from your link:
For this reason, Google Profiles requires you to use the name that you commonly go by in daily life.
... and I can just hear the opensourcers saying "I commonly go by this in daily life", but I'm betting they don't at the bank.

No. desjardins is a pseudonym. I have one and only one identity.
So you say. But nonetheless it may still be an identity; we've been lied to before. And, yes, you can never be sure -- in a lot of cases, you don't even need to be sure. But I like sometimes being in a space where I can be more sure than not that I'm dealing with the real-world identity of someone.
posted by bonaldi at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2011


byanyothername: I think the sites that are trying to get you to use your legal offline identity are doing so because they want to be "actually tied" to it. The usability of social networking sites goes up a lot for the general public if everyone's represented using their legal identities.

Though there's something to be said for a social networking site that would let you manage multiple identities (you could call them "facets") that would let you choose the picture and name that's used for different "circles". Because as much as I might want to keep my real name from certain groups I would be a part of, having to either manage different social networking accounts to do that would be too much of a pain.
posted by ODiV at 12:40 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think the only important issue is constancy of pseudonym. A lot of places on the web don't benefit from anonymity -- comments sections on online newspapers, as an example, quickly becomes overrun by trolls and astroturfers (and sometimes spammers) as a result of the fact that they often will let anybody post, and have no real mechanism for checking identity, and making sure it is one person to an account.

But that doesn't mean that pseudonyms are an equal problem. As long as one person can be identified as a real person, and maintain the pseudonym, and don't get all sock-puppetry (which can be checked for), there is a constancy of identity, and this leads to a degree of accountability. It is the lack of accountability associated with anonymity that leads to a lot of online problems.

MetaFilter is a good example of this. It's also an example of one of the real benefits of using a pseudonym -- the possibility of a brand new day.

... and I can just hear the opensourcers saying "I commonly go by this in daily life", but I'm betting they don't at the bank.

They don't ask for the name you use at the bank. They ask for the name you commonly use. Again, nowhere do they demand that you use your legal name. In fact, they explicitly state that if you have a nickname that is used more often, go with that.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:42 PM on July 8, 2011


I think you meant "all sock-puppety."
posted by Astro Zombie 2 at 12:43 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is significant problem for me. I just had a go-round with this with Quora too, and will proabably have to delete the account there for the same reason.

I have an employer that can be exceedingly sensitive to online activity. Most of the time they turn a blind eye to employees use of the net, but in certain cases have fired people instantly for Facebook postings. They also, in principle, claim copyright on all of our output, including everything I write here. I know that's way over-bread and probably not supportable, but they managed to supress publication of a novel by a collegue of mine last year using this reason (he'd written it on his own time, but it included mention of work he'd been on the fringes of).

The rule of thumb seems to be that no activity can be traceable back to my employer. They're ok with me behaving as a private citizen as long as I don't bring them into it.

My problem is that you search on my name and my employer is one of the first things that comes up. I publish academically and every now and then the media picks up on a publication or wants a quote. I'm often used as a representative for my employer.

So, my particpation here and elsewhere depends on maintaing a second, private idenity. With the figleaf of a psudonym, I'm ok to be here. Without it, I'd have to stop. I really hope that the whole net doesn't go the Facebook "you must be you" route. It would mean I (and a lot of people I know IRL) would have to go off-line.
posted by bonehead at 12:44 PM on July 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


They ask for the name you commonly use. Again, nowhere do they demand that you use your legal name. In fact, they explicitly state that if you have a nickname that is used more often, go with that.

They ask for the name you use in daily life. We could spend a while parsing that, but my intuition is the mean the life you have out and about doing things, day-to-day, dealing with families, bosses, businesses etc. Not the life you have inside your computer.

Nor do they specify "nicknames", especially not explicitly. They say if you're "known by more than one name" -- and people, especially many married women, do indeed have more than one name used in daily life -- which is a different matter.
posted by bonaldi at 12:49 PM on July 8, 2011


And yeah, I think the way the name sounds like a company or spam has a lot to do with why his account was suspended.

Ford Lincoln Mercury might have some trouble getting an account.
posted by ODiV at 12:50 PM on July 8, 2011


We could spend a while parsing that, but my intuition is the mean the life you have out and about doing things, day-to-day, dealing with families, bosses, businesses etc.

I don't know why you're hung up on this. They explicitly say pseudonyms are okay. You seem to be making the case that because of one generalized phrase, they actually don't mean that at all.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:51 PM on July 8, 2011


So you say. But nonetheless it may still be an identity; we've been lied to before. And, yes, you can never be sure -- in a lot of cases, you don't even need to be sure.

Right, since I'm not asking anything of you or taking anything from you (cf Kaycee Nicole), you have no need to be sure. I mean, what difference does it make? Maybe I have 3 cats, not 2! Maybe I actually DO have cable TV! Maybe I'm a Republican! I'm not maligning your preferences - if you want to interact primarily with people who use their legal, offline names, go for it - I just don't get that invested in people I've never met.
posted by desjardins at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2011


And they also say to use that name because it will make it easier for your friends to find you, not because they will ban you if you don't. How do they know what name I commonly use in my day to day life? Everybody calls me Bunny, but the bank doesn't. I interact with my bank about once per month.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:53 PM on July 8, 2011


@ODiV: As I previously mentioned, Google has a search engine. It's kind of how they became famous. They could have taken the time to use it and discover that the name was a well-established and oft-cited pseudonym. If the criteria is little more than a smell test or a finger in the air, then Google fails at being itself.
posted by tpoh.org at 12:54 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Shouldn't "a well-known Second Life user" be enough of a red flag?
posted by delfin at 12:55 PM on July 8, 2011


I don't see that as a sustainable strategy in the face of Google+'s oncoming popularity, tpoh.org.
posted by ODiV at 12:56 PM on July 8, 2011


This is why I had to delete my Google+ account.

Fun fact: If you change the name on your gmail account back to your real name after "deleting" the plus features, folks who had you in circles will be able to see your real name. You're never really deleted. Unless you nuke everything and start with a new e-mail address.
posted by Eideteker at 12:59 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ah, of course I skimmed it and missed the appeal part.

Tricky business considering a portion of real life people are going to have names that sound spam or advertising related even for their legal names.
posted by ODiV at 12:59 PM on July 8, 2011


@ODiV: If a determination was made on a case-by-case basis, actually, I would say, yes, it is. If a personal determination was made by an individual, then the tools made by the company itself could and should be employed in rendering the decision. Or at least employed if/when the decision is appealed.
posted by tpoh.org at 1:01 PM on July 8, 2011


They explicitly say pseudonyms are okay
They don't say that at all. The quote in the OP refers to all Google services, and it explicitly limits pseudonyms to "uploading videos on YouTube and posting on Blogger".

And the terms for Google Profiles, and especially their actions, make it even more clear that they want as real a name as possible for Google+. I'm not especially hung up about it, but I think people should be clear before they sign up and later start bewailing getting booted for calling themselves "Opensource".

How do they know what name I commonly use in my day to day life?
Of course they don't. They won't be able to check or verify everything. But they do want the ability to say "we wanted your real name, this obviously isn't it so we're closing your account" when they do discover pseudonyms. There's even a button to report profiles you're suspicious about.

I mean, what difference does it make?
On places like this? None at all. I wouldn't have been here for all these years if I had a problem dealing with pseudonyms.

But what I do like, as do others I think, is also having an online space where everyone is on a level playing field of using-real-name. It means I can talk to other journalists about journalism and our various employers and know that we're using the same rules of industry accountability as we would in the pub or at a conference; not that someone is lurking as "smudger2014" and taking notes.
posted by bonaldi at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Establishment of "known pseudonymity" would be a task lending itself to automation, given Google's resources. Google probably has an excellent index of "social sites" and could search for incidences of that pseudonym, although noting more than just the existence of a string on a site, but usage of that string on the context of a screen name, avatar, username, ID, what have you would be more difficult.

Google (the combination of user policies, legal team, people making decisions, and algorithms) is, I think, still in the business of working out what its policy is. This may be a glitch or it may be a leading indicator of a trend.
posted by adipocere at 1:04 PM on July 8, 2011


"No one IRL calls me desjardins, but it's just as good as a real name online. I'm still the same person whether I use desjardins or [redacted] for my name."

Remember that Batman: The Animated Series where the bad guy (I think it was Hugo Strange) was trying to trick/brainwash Batman? And the tip-off was that he called Batman "Bruce" in his own head? And Batman was like, I haven't been "Bruce" for years now.

Yeah. I don't think of myself as "realname" anymore, either. I may or may not be the night, however. And only one of my parents is dead.

(And no, I don't think of myself as "Eideteker." Don't be silly.)
posted by Eideteker at 1:05 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Based on the names showing up in the Metafilter Google+ group that PhoBWanKenobi linked upthread, lots of people seem to be using pseudonyms without any problem at all.
posted by Uncle Ira at 1:06 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think of myself as Eideteker. Is that, like, bad?
posted by everichon at 1:08 PM on July 8, 2011


I use the same handle everywhere on the internet. Twitter, Tumblr, here, there, and everywhere. I use it as my email address. That should be identifying enough for Google+.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 1:12 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


he quote in the OP refers to all Google services, and it explicitly limits pseudonyms to "uploading videos on YouTube and posting on Blogger".

What quote would that be? I don't see anything limiting it to YouTube and Blogger, and that quote explicitly goes against what I linked to, the Your Name and Google Profiles Page, which is the exact page about the subject that the Google + info page links to.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:12 PM on July 8, 2011


"I think of myself as Eideteker. Is that, like, bad?"

Not at all. It'd be crazy if two of us did it, though, dontcha think?
posted by Eideteker at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2011


First they came for the fursonas, and I didn't speak out, because, well, eeuuurgh.
posted by delfin at 1:13 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


bonaldi writes "The internet isn't running out of places for people to be anonymous; for someone to steamboat into + with a pseudonym when everyone else is putting their real-world self out there is like crashing a quiet dinner party with a full-on costume."

I've got lots of people in my circles with handles as their username rather than whatever their parents gave them. I don't even know the "real" names of several of these people despite years of correspondence,

bonaldi writes "If an identity is very easily traceable to your physical self, then for practical purposes it is not a pseudonym."

We all know who Mark Twain was but most people would consider the Mark Twain persona to be a pseudonym.
posted by Mitheral at 1:14 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is Google. Their policies are about as consistent as a magic eight ball. Try again later.
posted by TwelveTwo at 1:14 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Based on the names showing up in the Metafilter Google+ group that PhoBWanKenobi linked upthread, lots of people seem to be using pseudonyms without any problem at all.

I'm skeptical that things won't change. I got kicked out of Orkut after a considerable amount of time because I was using madamjujujive. I forget how long it was that I was using it - 2 months? 3 months? I forget -- long enough to have a few hundred contacts and a blues group. My advice to the pseudonym folks: don't get too invested.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:14 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


With LiveJournal I feel like I'm in control.

With Facebook, everybody from my church, workplace, former workplace, close family, less close family, close friends, "friends" I haven't spoken to since high school, and total strangers who share a couple of interests is all right there. I censor myself a lot.

Google+ is looser yet, and I may never really post anything of personal significance.

Google+ requires you to select a gender too, and makes that public. To its credit, they do have "Other." But I'd kind of like to not choose, and let people fill in "male" if they don't know me that well and "it's complicated" for those who do.
posted by Foosnark at 1:15 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


@delfin: First they came for the fursonas, and I didn't speak out, because, well, eeuuurgh.

#winning
posted by tpoh.org at 1:17 PM on July 8, 2011


If you use your full name, you'll help people find you online and connect with the right person. If you’re referred to by more than one name, just choose one, and place the others in the “Other names” section of your profile.

Not only that but you can restrict the visibility of specific "Other Names" to specific groups. So I have "octothorpe" only visible to people in my Metafilter and Metachat circles.
posted by octothorpe at 1:19 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Foosnark: The restrictions for who sees what posts seem pretty good so far on Google+. I believe you can even make posts that no one sees.

Hadn't noticed you can't restrict your gender to be more private than "Everyone on the web". That's annoying.

Does anyone know if you can disable sharing by default? It's kind of a pain disabling it on everything.
posted by ODiV at 1:20 PM on July 8, 2011


I forgot to add that in the Orkut thing, they had an appeals process. I showed them my Mefi presnce, my blog, my consistency across the web and told them I had hundreds of people who only knew me by that name.

No dice, got my account closed.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:21 PM on July 8, 2011


I think of myself as Eideteker. Is that, like, bad?

Whichever one of you first gets Google+ to accept the name, will henceforth be the REAL Eideteker.

Better hurry before some other Eideteker beats you to it!
posted by happyroach at 1:24 PM on July 8, 2011


I know Facebook requires real names, and yet my friend Noone O'Consequence (a lawyer who I suspect has the same problem being online as bonaldi) is not called that when I meet him in person. Nor is the ex-boyfriend who tried to friend me under the name "Shecky Dynamite" really named that. Nor the FB friend of a friend named Haywood Jablome (yeah, classy). I don't know how Google is going to handle pseudonyms in general, but there's clearly a lot of sliding by on Facebook.
posted by immlass at 1:27 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't even know the "real" names of several of these people despite years of correspondence,
I find this odd. I've been on the internet as long as most, and yes I have friends that are still referred to by their online nicknames, even face-to-face, but I also know all of their real names. I'd consider myself to still be somewhat removed from them if I didn't.

The online friends I only know by their handles aren't people I know. They're "online friends", at best. If I get a email from someone whose name shows up as their handle, I think they're protecting another, more real, identity from me. That's fine, but it doesn't constitute a full friendship to me.

We all know who Mark Twain was but most people would consider the Mark Twain persona to be a pseudonym.
Yes, it is. But that doesn't prove the idea that all online names are pseudonyms. Sam Clemens just doesn't count as one, even if he were alive and using it as his verified Twitter name today.
posted by bonaldi at 1:29 PM on July 8, 2011


immlass just added me on Google+ and I initially had no idea who she was. Her "real name" just didn't register, even though I've met her. How strange.
posted by grouse at 1:35 PM on July 8, 2011


If I get a email from someone whose name shows up as their handle, I think they're protecting another, more real, identity from me.

Or they just want to circumvent the problem that grouse ran into, which is you not knowing who the hell they are. I have several Facebook friends that I acquired through MetaFilter, and the only ones I can keep straight are jessamyn, cortex, and Brandon Blatcher. I can't remember the other ones' mefi usernames at all.
posted by desjardins at 1:38 PM on July 8, 2011


Or they just want to circumvent the problem that grouse ran into, which is you not knowing who the hell they are.
The usual solution is for that name to be their gmail username, or for them to put that in their signature.

I think there's really something fundamentally different about a sign-off that reads "thanks, Jennifer" compared to one that reads "thanks, desjardins". One is a message from a private person, the other is a message from a public persona. If get one from the latter, from someone who seems to be going out of their way to only give me the persona, I get the feeling I'm being held at a remove.

Sure, there are other valid reasons, but if there weren't a fundamental difference or distinction, I don't think so many people would be so vocally insistent on retaining it.
posted by bonaldi at 1:44 PM on July 8, 2011


immlass just added me on Google+ and I initially had no idea who she was. Her "real name" just didn't register, even though I've met her. How strange.

Yeah, I've been getting that a lot on both ends. I need to add my Metafilter handle to my profile, since it's my handle everywhere.

Something I'm noticing is that a lot of women are also going by first name and omitting their last name or using an obvious fake last name as their g+ handle (another thing I see on FB). I have a rather unusual first name and a rather unusual last name which combine to what may be a unique name in the US. I'd be pretty stalkable if someone were so inclined, but I guess after having my full name out on a blog and other internet arenas since 2001ish, I no longer think I can hide the evidence.
posted by immlass at 1:52 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boy I wish there was something I could sign up for with Bunny Surname as my username.
posted by chavenet at 2:01 PM on July 8, 2011


Yeah, my full name is unique globally so far...but I don't mind. I like the real names, even though it is difficult to figure out which mefites are which solely from real name.
posted by schyler523 at 2:01 PM on July 8, 2011


Even if Google forces you to use a real name, surely it can't be as bad privacy-wise as this. The poor fellow clearly has his privacy settings pretty locked down, but still FB shows his pictures to people who are not his friends.

If the only thing Google+ does better than Facebook is privacy, it'll be a net win in my book.
posted by wierdo at 2:09 PM on July 8, 2011


To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family, or co-workers usually call you.

My friends and immediate family generally call me 'elf' or 'elfgirl'. My extended family and co-workers call me by my given first name. Both groups use those respective names on a daily basis. The former is the group I'm most concerned about being able to find me on a social network, so under Google's guidelines of making it easier to find me, using elfgirl makes more sense than my given name.

And, just as an anecdotal data point, there is at least one person not using their full given name in my circles who is also actively chatting with and reporting bugs to G+ developers in her posts. Make of that what you will.
posted by elfgirl at 2:23 PM on July 8, 2011


If the only thing Google+ does better than Facebook is privacy, it'll be a net win in my book.

The problem is that that wouldn't take much.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:24 PM on July 8, 2011


So far Google+ doesn't seem to have much to offer over Facebook except not actually being Facebook (yes I've seen the comic strip). There's really nothing bang-wow going on over there.

It's so similar even the argumenst in its defense are identical:

Well that's fair- don't use Google+. No need to get all ranty about it, it's not like it's the welfare or tax office. It's a luxury, not a necessity.

But then again, don't expect Google +, or any particular privately held site to bend over backwards to cater to your particular online identity quibbles...


...

I honestly don't see the problem. "A website some other people made doesn't do the thing that I want."

in other errors:

I have been wanting to deactivate my FaceBook account for years because usability is such a huge problem. If there's something I want to share, but only with certain people, I have to create systems for that.

Or you just send a Facebook message to the certain people who want to share something with. You don't have to post publicly to share in Facebook. Some of the best discussions I've had on FB are with messages sent to multiple people. Kinda like... a circle.

Google+ requires you to select a gender too, and makes that public. To its credit, they do have "Other." But I'd kind of like to not choose, and let people fill in "male" if they don't know me that well and "it's complicated" for those who do.

Well there's a(nother) mistake. It really seems like they are just trying to create their own Facebook...

Nonetheless, I am in there, under my "real name" - see if you can find me. Hint: Look for a trail of darkness, death, destruction, and misery!
posted by mrgrimm at 2:26 PM on July 8, 2011


I don't know. I've been poking around a bit today, and I just don't get it, to be honest.

Why would someone join Google+ instead of Facebook? The only reason would be that's what all their friends use ... but who is going to manage both Google+ and Facebook? Marketers. That's about it.

Actually, one of the biggest gripes I have about Facebook is the half-assed incorporation of RSS feeds. Is there any way to add RSS content to my Google+ page?
posted by mrgrimm at 2:37 PM on July 8, 2011


When it came time for my mother to sign up for GMail, she chose an e-mail address that incorporated this name and her relationship to me. So I guess it is a name my mom calls me.
posted by subbes at 2:47 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else invent real-ish sounding pseudonyms for themselves for the internet, or is it just me? On Facebook, I'm Buck Hunter. In other places I'm Kirk Grim. I use these and other names for all sorts of email and news site accounts I've set up all over the place when I'm worried about getting spam and stuff. No one's really ever called me on it, I bet it would be an easy way to get around the pseudonym issue once Google+ opens up to everyone. Couldn't you just set up a Gmail account under a phoney name and use that as your pseudonym, or am I missing something about how Google+ works?
posted by Hoopo at 2:48 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't have a problem with pseudonyms. I do think it's important to realise that if you have a consistent online pseudonym, and someone is interested in your real life identity, it will not protect you at all. It just takes one person, one carelessly revealed detail to do it. Or triangulating from your pattern of interaction with known people. Certainly it doesn't protect your privacy from cookie-based identity tracking.

I've been thinking about this a lot as I just got a Google+ invitation. Google ALREADY KNOWS everything needed to identify me in the real world, not least because all my potential friends already have my real name in their address books. If you're my stalked and you know just a couple of my contacts, it's not hard to figure out who I might be.

I think online pseudonyms are best considered as a kind of personal branding. They're not an effective privacy tool. If Google or other services forbid them it's because they want to create a particular feeling and sensibility, not because they want to know your real life identity.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 3:18 PM on July 8, 2011


If I get a email from someone whose name shows up as their handle, I think they're protecting another, more real, identity from me.

Or it could be that their pseudonymous email is the one that they generally use in the circles in which they met you.

There are several people I know online who have my legal name. I still usually communicate with them under a pseudonym, though, because I don't have separate accounts for people who know my legal name and those who don't. Instead, I have separate email accounts for different spheres of my online life. As far as I can tell, this is pretty normal.

They learned my real name when there was a reason to tell them. I would have thought it was odd if they used my real name as some sort of test of friendship or truthfulness.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 3:19 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


...Meanwhile, my cats still have their Facebook accounts intact.

If no one complains, these companies couldn't care less what crap info you give them. If your account vanishes, you pissed someone off enough to complain, simple as that.
posted by pla at 3:30 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, it will certainly be interesting to see how this shakes out. I'm there under this name, not my "real" name. As far as I know, I'm the only person in the world with my legal name, and I'm not too keen on attaching it to anything interesting. The only hits for it should be as ordinary as vanilla pudding. I guess if G+ kicks me out for it, they kick me out.
posted by stoneweaver at 3:44 PM on July 8, 2011


Instead, I have separate email accounts for different spheres of my online life. As far as I can tell, this is pretty normal.

I don't think it's as common as all that to set up additional email accounts just to keep identities isolated. People generally have a couple of accounts plus a work one. Of course, they do have different personas; the whole point of Google plus was to allow people to set up those circles and have different rings of permission, after all. People also have very good reasons to want to keep their privacy/anonymity.

But if someone's supposedly friends with me but is hiding their real name at all times or treating it on a strictly need-to-know basis, I'm going to treat them with the same reserve and distance in return. That means that if you're in my Facebook or my inner Google circles or any other place where I share the personal stuff that I share with friends and family under my real name, I'm going to know your name, even if 99% of the time I call you by an online nickname.

Otherwise I am somehow supposed to have an equal relationship with an artificiality, and the disparity there is a stretch too far. There are things I'm uncomfortable having strangers read, and having corresponded with someone, even extensively, under an online nickname is not enough to take them out of the "stranger" category.

(Meeting in person would do it, but I don't think I've ever met an online person in real life and not had their real name also come up.)
posted by bonaldi at 3:45 PM on July 8, 2011


Couldn't you just set up a Gmail account under a phoney name and use that as your pseudonym, or am I missing something about how Google+ works?

Nope, and that's basically how Facebook works as well. Unless you call yourself "BabyFucker" or "Anonymous" or "FurryFag" or something glaringly obvious (like say "Opensource Obscure") or otherwise bring attention to yourself (this guy had a huge number of connections, I would think), nobody cares. I have LOTS of FB friends with pseudonyms. Most people use a partial name or clear variation, but somepeople just pick Pants McGee or Tootie Bloofenheiser or whatever.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:06 PM on July 8, 2011


I don't think I've ever met an online person in real life and not had their real name also come up.

Burning Man.
posted by mrgrimm at 4:07 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


@delfin ugh, shhh

You guuyys, these are the ruuless, if you don't like it go somewhere elschschshthh

Any successful social platform is almost certainly going to end up providing indispensable advantages to anybody who wants to distribute anything, e.g. the eyes and relationships of people who mostly decide what to look at and who to talk to through their social networking application, never mind integrating with many, many third-party services-- games, comments sections, content accessible only to G+ accounts.

Not having access to such platform is a liability for both consumers and producers of content. This is true of Facebook, it will be true of Google+ if Google+ becomes successful. "Going somewhere else" is, for these reasons, a bullshit non-option. The simplistic, reductive* argument that It's Their Service And The Terms Are Theirs To Dictate willfully ignores the balance of power between Google and the consumer. The entire point of a social networking service is that you use it because other people use it, because not using it puts you at a disadvantage.

It's not about Google trying to provide you a Safe Space where there's no deception or trolling or people who will hurt your feelings (Usenet alone is proof that lack of anonymity doesn't do shit for any of those). "Accountability" on the internet, even with real names, is a joke. No, this is about enforcing the accuracy of advertising data for Google and the businesses that license with them.

Fortunately, even with the people whiteknighting this, it's a non-issue at the moment. This SL person will probably be able to recreate their shit, pseudonym and all, once they make it clear they're not a bot or a spammer. Nor does Google have any reliable way to enforce against realistic pseudonyms that I am aware of. They may develop such, but people are fucking smart and will find ways around it. It's pretty gross and repugnant that people are defending Google's "right" to this, but what's worse and more alarming are the sour burps of reflexive defense let off from the rancid "nothing to hide = nothing to fear" attitude fermenting beneath the surface of a lot of these arguments.

*my urge here is to add 'corporatist'
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:26 PM on July 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


P.S. I like how MrGrimm groups 'Anonymous' with 'BabyFucker'. That's some classy shit. For fucks' sake, really? really
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:30 PM on July 8, 2011


On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog.
posted by OverlappingElvis at 4:31 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thoughtful post from Randall Munroe (xkcd): Google+ forces you to have a public gender in your profile (although it can be 'Other'). I know they have reasons for this, but I don't think they're good enough.
posted by finite at 4:34 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


That means that if you're in my Facebook or my inner Google circles or any other place where I share the personal stuff that I share with friends and family under my real name, I'm going to know your name, even if 99% of the time I call you by an online nickname.

Fine. That's the point of having a "Friends" circle. I shouldn't have to meet those criteria to use the service at all, though.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:51 PM on July 8, 2011


ChurchHatesTucker : Fine. That's the point of having a "Friends" circle. I shouldn't have to meet those criteria to use the service at all, though.

Of course you should. And I don't mean that sarcastically.

They provide the service. They paid for its development, pay for its ongoing hosting, pay for you to both access it and to create/use an account there.

They have every right to tell you they don't want you.

That said... They damned well better offer free BJs every Tuesday and have a privacy policy approved by three out of four unicorns, if they expect to get me to sign up with my real identity.
posted by pla at 5:01 PM on July 8, 2011


@pla or they could just get all your friends to join
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:15 PM on July 8, 2011


This, of course, alludes to you : or they could just get all your friends to join

I keep more sane friends than that. And when they get my grandmother to sign up, I will patiently sit her down and explain for the 47th time that no, that nice young man on the phone didn't really have her best interests at heart.
posted by pla at 5:29 PM on July 8, 2011


@pla: I'm sure you do, but remember all the people who said they wouldn't join Facebook?
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 5:31 PM on July 8, 2011


On Facebook XTube, I'm Buck Hunter.
posted by desjardins at 5:36 PM on July 8, 2011


... but remember all the people who said they wouldn't join Facebook?

I'm still not on there. If I knew this about Google+, I probably wouldn't be there either.

They have every right to tell you they don't want you.

Y'know, I've been thinking about this. Given how important these kinds of sites have been to the Arab Spring and such, I don't think they should. We have no problems telling companies that they can't, say, prohibit blacks from sitting at the lunch counter. Perhaps there needs to be a public accommodation law that protects pseudonymity.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:50 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


To me it seems Opensource Obscure might have had someone flag his profile which brought it to the attention of the G+ people. In my MeFi and Reddit circles there's several people whose names are not the same as on their passports. On the suggested contacts on the circles page there's a ton of fake names (unless a dot is now a common surname). I suspect that like flagging on Metafilter, after a certain threshold a human at Google sees the name and gives it a yay or nay. Mr. Obscure just seemed to a) have someone flag his name for some reason and/or b) got a stickler for the rules working at G+.

Last weekend, Barack Obama had an account and it vanished quickly. The original description was it was of the 2012 reelection campaign but it could have been a fake. Google zapped it because the real Obama people contacted them, or they couldn't verify it was legit.

Alyssa Milano's first post on G+ was that there needed to be some sort of verification for famous people similar to Twitter since it really could be her account, or it could be some guy pretending to be her. She has a point. I do know that G+ has something in the works for corporate identities and is asking companies not sign up as individuals. I suspect they'll treat the celebrities the same way and this also makes the 5000 total contacts limit problem go away.

(note: I don't have Milano or Newt in my circles, but I've seen public "shares" of theirs by people I am following)
posted by birdherder at 6:04 PM on July 8, 2011


Alyssa Milano's first post on G+ was that there needed to be some sort of verification for famous people similar to Twitter since it really could be her account, or it could be some guy pretending to be her.

Twitter stopped verifying accounts. Turns out that there's an awful lot of people who are 'world famous in Poland' (to quote Mel Brooks) and vetting them all is a mess.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:23 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


birdherder writes "Alyssa Milano's first post on G+ was that there needed to be some sort of verification for famous people similar to Twitter since it really could be her account, or it could be some guy pretending to be her. She has a point."

Or it could be another person named Alyssa Milano and she should get over the delusion that she owns her name. Proper name space collisions are common after all which is why no one designing a database uses them as unique identifiers.
posted by Mitheral at 6:41 PM on July 8, 2011


Jesus Christ, I'm going to end up deleting my Google+ account too.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:44 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anti-pseudonym bingo.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:45 PM on July 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


no one designing a database uses them as unique identifiers.

I wish this was true.
posted by ODiV at 6:54 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm sure you do, but remember all the people who said they wouldn't join Facebook?

Still ain't there and not missing it either.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:21 PM on July 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else invent real-ish sounding pseudonyms for themselves for the internet, or is it just me?
Nope. Totally not just you.

I wonder what's the point of letting someone pick 'other' for their gender and then forcing them to use their real first name. Most people's names give a hint along those lines...
posted by Karmakaze at 7:26 PM on July 8, 2011


So far Google+ doesn't seem to have much to offer over Facebook except not actually being Facebook (yes I've seen the comic strip). There's really nothing bang-wow going on over there.

Circles are pretty much the answer to the majority of complains I hear from Facebookers in my social circle (I'm not one) in terms of dealing with the oft-relentless pressure from workmates, fring members of one's social circle, or family members you don't actually like (like Racist Great Uncle Tony) to your friends list, as well as the more obvious problems with your boss finding out you like to drink.

That, and the ability to extract all your stuff with a click, but that's something that fewer people care about.
posted by rodgerd at 7:31 PM on July 8, 2011


I remember, on dear, departed Plastic, a user who posted anonymously who was a snuff-sadist. He got off on fantasies of violent death and murder, and was very ashamed of it - but he was very open as to how he felt and why he felt that way, and how people in real life who commit murder for sexual reasons felt and acted. It was astonishing - not in a "Hello, Clarice" kind of way, but in a matter-of-fact, this-is-how-it-is kind of way. Alien and scary, but understandable and straightforward.

In the movies, the "Good Killer" is cryptic and mystic and poetic, because the Bad Killer has to keep the audience's interest. On Plastic, the "Good Killer" was blunt and honest and humble, and laid it out without the bullshit.

The thought of Karla Homolka free still keeps me up nights as a result.

Monsters are real, monsters are here, and I think we need a way for them to speak to us, and we to speak back. Someone on the forum told him to stay strong (celibate), and I wish I had, too.

This is one, just one, instance where an anonymous pseudonym is essential to online life. I can think of a billion others.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:35 PM on July 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


As long as Google's up front about this policy, I've no problem with it.

That's the issue, though; Google's statements and actions are kind of slippery; they're trying to have it both ways. Check the Google Public Policy statement from February again; it's full of strong statements about the "good reasons" some folks might want to be pseudonymous and the importance of transparency, then states clearly, "When it comes to Google services, we support three types of use: unidentified, pseudonymous and identified."

Then at the bottom of the post they backtrack to add, "While some of our products will be better suited to just one or two of those modes, depending on what they’re designed to do, we believe all three modes have a home at Google."

In other words, our strong feelings about the value of online pseudonyms for some reason stop cold at Google+. Why there? I'm with the folks pointing out that online data-mining is much more valuable when it's matched to real-world databases about specific individuals.
posted by mediareport at 7:40 PM on July 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The key here seems to be that this user was flagged as a spammer.

Where are you finding that bit of information, Astro Zombie? Are you just assuming it?
posted by mediareport at 7:40 PM on July 8, 2011


Creating circles the way Google+ lets you means you can put up walls that indicate you desire privacy around certain issues...I think, with that in mind, using a pseudonym on Google+ is kind of superfluous. Boundaries are integrated into the service, so it's less likely you'll need to worry about your mom seeing a picture of you doing whatever weird thing would freak her out.

The idea that privacy means "your content is private" makes sense if the content is drunken party pictures or embarrassing personal chatter, but not if it's possibly-controversial writings and ideas that you would like to reach a larger audience. With the advent of social networks where people share content only with their friends, microblogging services where the content is limited to too few characters to be interesting, and tablet devices that are designed more for consuming than producing anything more involved than a tweet or snapshot, it seems like there's a clear message to the masses: You don't have anything interesting to say. Go talk to your friends and leave the big ideas to the professionals.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 8:02 PM on July 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


@Ralston

Yes.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:14 PM on July 8, 2011


I would support the use of pseudonyms on social networking sites for the reasons given above. I use social networking to converse with people I know in real life by their real names, but one great thing about the Internet and technology in general is that people are always finding different and interesting uses for things.

If you're looking to do something like publish controversial writings to the world at large you might be better served getting your own blog though.
posted by ODiV at 8:16 PM on July 8, 2011


Creating circles the way Google+ lets you means you can put up walls that indicate you desire privacy around certain issues...I think, with that in mind, using a pseudonym on Google+ is kind of superfluous.

That still doesn't work for a good chunk of people. They're not just pseudonymous because they care about being anonymous on one site. They're pseudonymous because they don't want any overlap between identities. Searching their name gives another poster with a grudge an easy way make their lives inconvenient. Their clients or their employers don't need to know about their inability to decide if they should eat five-day old chicken, about their political opinions or that their kids have mental health issues, for example.

I don't see how Google+'s model helps you if you want to participate in an on-line abuse support group or a lefty pinko book club, while having an easily identifiable profile that has to maintain a certain standard of behvaiour, like a doctor or a teacher would be expected to, for example.
posted by bonehead at 8:29 PM on July 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Ralston McTodd : The idea that privacy means "your content is private" makes sense if the content is drunken party pictures or embarrassing personal chatter, but not if it's possibly-controversial writings and ideas that you would like to reach a larger audience.

I disagree. The former, you shouldn't put in a public place ever. The latter, you should, but only after taking steps to preserve your anonymity.

Facebook's biggest PR problem comes from people who regret what they've shared. They don't think "oh, gee, perhaps my religious-right employer might disapprove of my drunken orgy last weekend" until the boss calls them in Monday to discuss their severance package. Then suddenly Facebook magically turns into some evil privacy-sucking beast, totally unexpectedly.

I don't use Facebook for anything serious because I value my privacy. I also wouldn't whine about it if I posted my SSN, DOB, name, and last three addresses, and had my identity stolen a week later.
posted by pla at 8:34 PM on July 8, 2011


Crapola. And here I've been begging for a Google+ invite.
posted by PuppyCat at 8:39 PM on July 8, 2011


rodgerd wrote: as well as the more obvious problems with your boss finding out you like to drink.

I would probably get fired if my boss didn't know I like to drink, so that's not really a problem for me.

What annoys me about Facebook's privacy settings is that even if you lock things down as much as you think you need to, it's difficult to a) know for sure that it worked, or b) keep your friends from passing something along inadvertently.
posted by wierdo at 8:39 PM on July 8, 2011


Those individuals which were fired because of a Facebook posting, were fired based on a pictures posted by a friend of theirs, as I recall. They happened to have bottles in their hands at the time.
posted by bonehead at 8:47 PM on July 8, 2011


Where are you finding that bit of information, Astro Zombie? Are you just assumoing it?

From the link I provided that said they encourage people to use their most commonly used names in order to thwart spammers.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:03 PM on July 8, 2011


I beat this whole shtick by being born a superhero.
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:12 PM on July 8, 2011


Sure, AZ, that's what they say in the boilerplate, but their message to the user didn't mention spam at all. According to his report, the Google Profiles Support Team just said "Google Profiles requires you to use the name that you commonly go by in daily life." and directed him to the Community Standards page. Nothing about spamming at all.

At this point, there's no evidence spamming was involved, so it seems premature to call it "the key here."
posted by mediareport at 10:16 PM on July 8, 2011


Where is this "also known as" feature in the G+ profile? I am not seeing it.
posted by Meatbomb at 11:34 PM on July 8, 2011


Where is this "also known as" feature in the G+ profile? I am not seeing it.

I'm not sure if it is what is being referred to but there is a "nicknames" spot in there. Go into your email & use the drop-down menu by your name. Account Settings>Email addresses and usernames>

You'll see a "nicknames" spot below the first and last name fields.

In Google+ is there a way to make hyperlinks when commenting (not posting)? And how do you reply directly to someone in a comment? I've seen it done - the hyperlinked name of the person you're responding to ends up at the beginning of your reply comment.
posted by cashman at 5:53 AM on July 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anyone opposed to pseudonyms better never have used the Anonymous function of AskMe.
posted by desjardins at 5:59 AM on July 9, 2011


Anyone opposed to pseudonyms better never have used the Anonymous function of AskMe

This captures the issue succinctly. My userid is not my name. You can quickly figure out my name if you look at my metafilter profile. I have asked anonymous AskMe's.

I am not on facebook. I am not joining G+ with my real name. I am thinking about an alias account, though.
posted by bukvich at 7:23 AM on July 9, 2011


how do you reply directly to someone in a comment?

Nevermind - figured it out - start typing +
posted by cashman at 9:19 AM on July 9, 2011


I don't understand the rush to identify ourselves by real name online. Are people really this ignorant of how the internet works? No one's ever heard of ChoicePoint or LexisNexis? Is no one considering the far-reaching future of data mining on the internet?

Anything you ever post publicly will remain there forever if you lose access, lose passwords, it gets cached, someone saves it offline and reuploads it later, it gets saved in some database, or you die and your family & friends don't have access to your account or can't get the site to take down the content. Even restricting it to "friends" or "circles" doesn't guarantee that your information will stay private. At least if it's not posted under your real name, you can look back on it 10 years later and say, "Gee, I'm sure glad that no one can use that for a pre-employment screening that will be kept around for 7 years!"

Google didn't create Google+ out of any desire to make a fun place where everyone's equal. They're doing it for the money they'll get from selling your information. They're going to take everything you say, all of your contacts, all of your preferences, all of your private data, and use them for marketing. Just like Facebook.

There's also privilege in using your real name online. Being able to say and do whatever you want under your own name without fear of reprisal or harassment online - or in the real world - is something that you might take for granted, but not everyone can. Not everyone is in safe place, a safe country, a safe world. That doesn't mean they shouldn't be able to communicate or organize online.
posted by i feel possessed at 10:12 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, fine, someone invited me to Google +.

Please explain how I use a pseudonym, because the sign up form said (paraphrasing) "if you choose a different name, it might be changed across all Google services." What does that mean, my mom will get email from Jennifer Desjardins instead of Jennifer RealName?

My email address is jennifer.realname, so anyone I add to my circles can see that, right?

If I say, OK, fuck it, mefi people can know my real name, how are other mefi people going to know who I am unless I add desjardins as a nickname? Then my family and other people can link the two identities together which defeats the purpose of having the username in the first place.
posted by desjardins at 10:24 AM on July 9, 2011


I don't understand the rush to identify ourselves by real name online. Are people really this ignorant of how the internet works? No one's ever heard of ChoicePoint or LexisNexis? Is no one considering the far-reaching future of data mining on the internet?

Even if you don't want to let everything hang out (and who does?), in a world where all that data mining is going on, wouldn't you want to manage the online information available about your name? Sure, not having your real name attached to a G+/Facebook/etc. account means nobody can post pictures and tag you, but at the same time it means your name is open and available for others to control on those services. As it happens, there's an open AskMe about what can happen if you don't control your own name right now. There are plenty of reasons not to engage in social networking, but there are also reasons to engage in it as a form of brand management.
posted by immlass at 10:29 AM on July 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hrm. It appears that members of your circles can see all the other members of your other circles (even if they can't see what circles they belong to.) That seems obviously problematic.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 9:05 PM on July 9, 2011


If I say, OK, fuck it, mefi people can know my real name, how are other mefi people going to know who I am unless I add desjardins as a nickname? Then my family and other people can link the two identities together which defeats the purpose of having the username in the first place.

There's a section on your profile for other names you're known as, and you can limit who can view that information by circle.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:11 PM on July 9, 2011


Please explain how I use a pseudonym, because the sign up form said (paraphrasing) "if you choose a different name, it might be changed across all Google services." What does that mean, my mom will get email from Jennifer Desjardins instead of Jennifer RealName?

My email address is jennifer.realname, so anyone I add to my circles can see that, right?

If I say, OK, fuck it, mefi people can know my real name, how are other mefi people going to know who I am unless I add desjardins as a nickname? Then my family and other people can link the two identities together which defeats the purpose of having the username in the first place.


The Google+ profile replaces your old google profile. This is shown when someone searches for your name, and was also used primarily on buzz (and I think picasa). The gmail settings are separate, and are not affected, so if you set a name in your google+ profile, say Jennifer Desjardins, your gmail from: won't change.

No-one in google+ can see your email address unless you
a) add it manually to your profile
b) manually add them to one of your circles
c) don't change the default sharing on that section from 'your circles' to a specific circle(s), or no circle at all. You can specific different bits of your profile to be visible to different circles. So for example, my home phone, email and address are only visible to friends and family, while my work email is available to any of my circles. You could change that to any setup you like (none of it is shared until you save changes to your profile), including sharing it with one specific person, or nobody at all.

One of the profile fields is 'other names'. You can, for example, put Desjardins in your 'other names' section, and only make that visible to your metafilter circle, though if you also put that in as your 'common' i.e. real name, that rather defeats the purpose.

The things you have to make public are real name, gender (male, female or other) and profile picture, if you set one.

All else is optional, and you can specify which circles it's visible to - you're prompted to do just that, in fact.

Hrm. It appears that members of your circles can see all the other members of your other circles (even if they can't see what circles they belong to.) That seems obviously problematic.

That's so that friends of friends can see who you've circled, so they can find them. You can
1) turn it all off so no-one can see who's in your circles, or who's circled you.
2) or specify which circles are shown as you having circled them (so you can turn off your family, or AA group from being visible or whatever, while leaving just the people you're following)

You can also remove yourself from the search index, so someone searching your name won't find you, though if they have a direct link they can still see what you've publicly posted.

When it comes to posting, the very first default is nobody at all - so literally nobody will see it but you. You can specific individual users, your circles, or public, or any combination of those. After that, it will default to the last collection of private circles for new posts - so if you regularly post to a group of circles, it will put that in for next time, but if you post one thing publicly, it doesn't default to that for your next post.

It's a very streamlined way of managing which people you've added to circles get to see, and is lightyears ahead of facebook in that regard. You can very easily post one thing for friends and family only, then another censored thing that's visible to the boss and other co-workers, and a third thing that's visible to the public (i.e. followers), and it's all colour-coded so it's pretty damn hard to screw it up. The beauty is, apart from seeing that a post is 'limited' or 'public', the receiver has no way of knowing what circle you put them in, what circles that post went to, and what, if anything, you're sharing with other circles.

In your profile section, there's a 'view profile as' box, so you can easily see how your profile (and posts and photos) looks to the public, a person, or a specific circle.

As far as photo tagging goes, in the photo settings it's default set to 'your circles', so anyone you've circled can tag you, but you can easily change that to a sub-set of your circles, (or nobody but you) so only people you trust can tag you in photos. Plus of course, those photos uploaded by others would need to be posted publicly, and from what I've seen so far, everyone is only posting those to some subset of their circles.

The other really clever feature is the 'hangouts' - setting up a group video/text chat with a given circle (or just specific person(s)) is really easy, and it 'just works', without any tweaking. It really is a killer feature, I'm not aware of anyone else doing it anywhere near this well, especially not for free. If you're setting up a video chat between friends, or a group of far-flung family (like mine in three countries) it's WAY better than skype's premium version. I suspect it will be a big feature for business too when they get out of tech-demo and integrate with google apps.
posted by ArkhanJG at 10:03 AM on July 10, 2011


Google made my son cry (via Making Light)
Not only is the account inaccessible, they also say that they will delete it in 29 days, unless he provides them with evidence that he is over 13 years old. All because he entered his date of birth when he created his Google Profile. [...] Alex has been using the web since before he could fucking read. To him, Google practically is the web. But according to these Terms of Service, he's not even allowed to use Google Search.
posted by Joe in Australia at 10:08 AM on July 10, 2011


Joe in Australia : Google made my son cry (via Making Light)

I know Google-bashing has become the latest big thing, but you can't blame them for obeying a fairly reasonable law. If they knowingly allow him to continue using their service, they would violate COPPA (since Google collects all sorts of information about its users, and likely has no interest in providing exemptions to that since they provide their services for free). That said, COPPA allows the parents to waive their kids' rights against data collection, but going there adds an entire new layer of complexity and legal liability that, put bluntly, wouldn't make the service any more valuable to Google.

Easiest solution, have the kid make a new account and lie about his age. He should do that anyway just as a basic online protective measure (I sometimes wonder what percentage of most websites' users have their birthday listed as 1/1/whatever - I'd guess pretty damned high). Important lesson learned - Not everyone who asks you for personal information should have it, and fewer still will use it in your best interests.
posted by pla at 10:27 AM on July 10, 2011


I don't have time to read all these comments, so I may have missed something, but the short version iat bonaldi is wrong, in ways he doesn't even realize. Consider the effect the screen actors guild has on "your real name", for example.

Schmidt went on record at the Sun Valley conference (where media execs meet to decide which of our orifices they want to screw us in this year, saying the number one problem with the internet is there is no firm concept of identity, and they want to solve that with G+. A smart, freedom loving person would do all they couldto keep the information they give to Google to the barest minimum. Your identity belongs to you, not Google or Facebook.
posted by Mr. Gunn at 11:53 AM on July 10, 2011


Google now seem to insist that you verify your account with a real phone number (that they automatically call you on to check you are there).

That's massively intrusive. Apparently you can "be whoever you want to be" only if you have access to a telephone, and you don't mind them calling you up on it.
posted by mr. strange at 2:37 PM on July 10, 2011


mr. strange : Google now seem to insist that you verify your account with a real phone number (that they automatically call you on to check you are there).

I wonder if they accept a Google Voice number. ;)
posted by pla at 2:45 PM on July 10, 2011


Google now seem to insist that you verify your account with a real phone number (that they automatically call you on to check you are there).
For everything, or for Google Places? That's been how you verify yourself when you claim a business in Google Places for a while. I didn't realize they were using it elsewhere.
posted by Karmakaze at 6:15 PM on July 10, 2011


Schmidt went on record at the Sun Valley conference (where media execs meet to decide which of our orifices they want to screw us in this year, saying the number one problem with the internet is there is no firm concept of identity, and they want to solve that with G+.

[Citation Needed]

Not that I'd put it past them, at this point.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:23 PM on July 10, 2011


I don't think I've ever met an online person in real life and not had their real name also come up.

I had a girlfriend for 3 months before I told her my name.
posted by scalefree at 7:15 PM on July 10, 2011


One of the profile fields is 'other names'. You can, for example, put Desjardins in your 'other names' section, and only make that visible to your metafilter circle...

How does one do that? I can see how you do it for a person, but not for a circle. You can't, for example, view your profile as a circle.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:55 PM on July 10, 2011


Click on your profile, then edit that field. The option for making information public/visible only to various circles should come up.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:03 PM on July 10, 2011


Click on your profile, then edit that field. The option for making information public/visible only to various circles should come up.

It appears to assume there's one, or one set, of other names. I can't seem to set one group to see nickname A, and another to see nickname B. And I apparently can't set it to let neither see my True Name.

This should be managed on a circle level, and not in your profile.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 8:16 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Well, beta and all. Send them feedback suggesting it!
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:42 PM on July 10, 2011


P.S. I like how MrGrimm groups 'Anonymous' with 'BabyFucker'. That's some classy shit. For fucks' sake, really? really
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 4:30 PM on July 8 [+] [!]


/eponysterical
posted by mrgrimm at 8:43 AM on July 11, 2011


Well, I don't want to straight up say 'mrgrimm fucks babies', because that'd be rude. So instead I'm forced to resort to allusion and implication.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:14 AM on July 11, 2011


you don't start none there won't be none
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 9:27 AM on July 11, 2011


Ralston McTodd : The idea that privacy means "your content is private" makes sense if the content is drunken party pictures or embarrassing personal chatter, but not if it's possibly-controversial writings and ideas that you would like to reach a larger audience.

I disagree. The former, you shouldn't put in a public place ever. The latter, you should, but only after taking steps to preserve your anonymity.

Facebook's biggest PR problem comes from people who regret what they've shared.


I disagree. Facebook's biggest PR problems comes from people whose information or pictures are shared by someone else. If someone snaps a picture of me snorting blow off a prostitute's nipple, then uploads it to Facebook and tags me in it, that's a problem.

I'm not sure how Google Plus solves that problem.

Oddly enough, there's only been one photo that I've ever been tagged with on Facebook that I didn't want to be tagged in. It was literally the first photo that anyone on Google Plus tagged me in.

Sure, I can remove the tag, but lets say I didn't have a Google Plus account (most don't) but did have a Gmail account. I think my name shows up no matter. Or if I didn't even notice that the picture was tagged with my name.

So so far, my experience with Google Plus has been nearly identical to Facebook without the apps. Or the interesting content:

On Google Plus: No Country For NSFW People
posted by mrgrimm at 10:53 AM on July 11, 2011


you don't start none there won't be none

"don't start no shit there won't be no shit"

Change "Anonymous" to "John Doe" if it makes you happier. My intent was to give examples of names or pseudonyms more likely to be flagged by users. Apologies if I offended.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:07 AM on July 11, 2011


I was gonna make another post about the subject, but we've probably heard about Google Plus (or +?) enough by now, so I'll just put this here.

Here's why I said/say Facebook would "fail." (relatively speaking): nobody wants to share their online stuff with their parents (or their boss, or their grandmas). As everyone joins the network, everyone's contributions will be toned down to their blandest and people will find somewhere else online to be themselves.

The thing about Google+ is that it's Google, so you have a host of new problems. Even though I didn't post anything even remotely edgy on Facebook, I had little privacy concerns (i.e. I never use Facebook Connect and sign in and sign out regularly; how much real info do they have on me? some? sure.). With Google I do have actual privacy concerns (YouTube videos watched; Android Market activity, etc.), just because their presence is so ubiquitous online, and I think they have a *lot* of information of me and my online behavior.

You can sign out of Google like you can sign out of Facebook, but I'm not quite sure it's as easy to do so completely.

Google+: Too many eggs in the Google basket:

"By moving to Google+, you are simply switching pimps from Facebook to Google — and when you stop to think about it, that might not be a very good idea. Let me show you a sad story from last week, where Google made 10-year-old Alex cry by banning him from Gmail. In short, Alex got invited to Google+ — and to join Google+ you must create a Google Profile. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) Alex gave his real age — and voila, the next time he tried to log into Gmail, his account had been blocked for breaking Google’s terms of service. Google, by law, and just like almost every website in the US, cannot easily offer its services to people under the age of 13.

Now, this isn’t necessarily wrong of Google — it’s just following the law, after all — but it perfectly illustrates a far larger and more pressing issue: Alex lost his Gmail account, his contacts list, and every email he’s ever sent or received, because he updated his Google Profile. These are two services that are only tenuously linked by the Google Taskbar, yet inexorably linked by the Google umbrella. Your entire Google account — the name and password that logs you into as disparate services as YouTube, Docs, Picasa, and Google+ — is governed by a master terms of service, and by additional terms defined by each individual service. If you break the master ToS on YouTube, you can lose access to Picasa; if you do something silly in Google+, you can lose access to your Docs."

posted by mrgrimm at 8:33 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also worry about the legality clauses in the terms of service. I linked to this online version of the Illluminatus Trilogy. Is that illegal? (if so, please remove, mods.) I honestly don't know. Combined with the NSFW restrictions (above link), do you really want to risk your Gmail (or Picasa or Youtube, etc.) history by accidentally posting a Wiener shot to your Google+ profile?

I can envision a lot of problematic scenarios.

As for Facebook, like MetaFilter, its value lies in its user base and uncompensated content contributions. I think its investors/business supporters are in for a very rude awakening. I also think FB would have been wise to invest in some sort of archiving/best of FB feature to keep some of the value from the user contributions. Its ephemeral nature could end up applying to the platform itself. We'll see ...
posted by mrgrimm at 8:44 AM on July 12, 2011


It astonishes me when people talk about accidentally posting Wieners on the Internet as this is some sort of commonplace occurrence that is hard to avoid. I'm reminded of Greg Nog's comment:
I've been using twitter for a couple years, and I've never uploaded a dick pic. As best as I can tell, none of my friends have, either. It's just... like, I don't want to sound condescending here, but... it's REALLY REALLY EASY to not upload dick pics to the internet.
posted by grouse at 9:36 AM on July 12, 2011


It appears to assume there's one, or one set, of other names. I can't seem to set one group to see nickname A, and another to see nickname B. And I apparently can't set it to let neither see my True Name.

This should be managed on a circle level, and not in your profile.


No, you can't do that yet. I agree, that would make sense - being able to create free-form fields that are visible to one or more circles would solve that, and I've just submitted that as feedback. They've already been making changes to the UI based upon feedback, so given this is still very early days I very much doubt the google+ we see now will be the final product.

I think you're SOL on the real name thing though - google seem pretty insistent that the two unifying bits of ID are real name and gender that have to be there.

On a related matter, is the date of birth thing US only? I use a ton of google services, and wasn't prompted for mine (UK) at sign up, nor is there a field for it anywhere in my profile. Nor was a phone number requested, though I did add it later.
posted by ArkhanJG at 6:35 PM on July 12, 2011


I'm in the US and wasn't prompted for my birth date or phone number. But I've had a Gmail account for years, and was asked for the birth date then, and I have a Google Voice number linked to my cell.
posted by desjardins at 7:10 PM on July 12, 2011


They've just announced that gender will no longer be mandatory to share; they'll use gender neutral terms if someone isn't allowed to see your gender. Shortly you'll be able to set it from 'nobody' to any any combo of circles, like other profile entries. Which is definitely good, this needed to be changed.
posted by ArkhanJG at 11:13 PM on July 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's nice. But given that my gender is encoded in my real name, which isn't optional, the core problem remains. (Not that I care, really, that y'all know. My gender can also be determined from my metafilter userpic, not to mention the content of some of my posts.) I don't go by the first name on my birth certificate very many places online, and I regret most of those. It's gotten to the point that some people call my by my initials offline now because they think it's a nickname like TJ or something. (The real reason is that, when I started doing BBS/internet stuff in the late 80's the volume of nastiness I attracted via my gender was pretty overwhelming and while things have changed, they haven't necessarily improved. So I went with the 1970's feminist tactic of just not giving folks a first name in the first place.)

And now, of course, I spend a lot of time explaining to meatspace friends who Kit is... (When I picked it, I'd thought Kit was a bit more neutral than it is. I should have picked Kris...)
posted by Karmakaze at 7:39 AM on July 13, 2011


Nicknames are allowed in the 'name' field. So are initials. As long as people you know in real life would recognize it, it's fine, it really doesn't have to be the full gender-identifying name on your birth certificate.

What they don't want is people using 'Captain Underpants' or whatever. Rightly or wrongly, they want people to use it like they would if they were meeting and talking to people in the flesh, and not just as an internet forum where identities are ultimately disposable. They want your identity to mean something, to be 'real', presumably in the hope that people won't be quite such idiots in public if they have a recognizably real name tied to it.
posted by ArkhanJG at 3:59 PM on July 13, 2011


in the hope that people won't be quite such idiots in public if they have a recognizably real name tied to it.

Isn't there a blog called Facebook Fails or something that proves this to be a lie? I know the comments section of my local newspaper is rife with total assholes using their real names.
posted by desjardins at 6:46 PM on July 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


ArkhanJG writes "Rightly or wrongly, they want people to use it like they would if they were meeting and talking to people in the flesh, and not just as an internet forum where identities are ultimately disposable."

Well that's it in a nut shell isn't it. Mitheral isn't disposable. I've been using this handle for. OMG, 2/3rds of my life. If I sign up as John Locke I won't be caught out by whatever verification they use but John Locke is disposable. So this policy only serves to remove some jokey sounding names while leaving the Dick Trickles alone.

I'd really like to hear from Google on there reasoning but I'm pretty sure they'd all apply to real looking aliases as much as fake looking aliases. Not to mention the poor bastards who get their accounts frozen just because their parents decided to name them Moon Unit, Dweezil, or Diva Thin. Or Kal-El, Pilot Inspektor, Fifi Trixibelle, Sage Moonblood, Prince Michael II aka Blanket, Blue Angel, Audio Science, Moxie Crimefighter, Tu Morrow, or Jermajesty.
posted by Mitheral at 1:03 AM on July 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I imagine the thinking is that, at least: a) it will prevent Greater Internet Fuckwadery (accountability); b) not necessary to police aliases (obscenity, trademark violations); c) makes it easier to find that guy from 4th grade you used to give/get atomic wegies (easier to build relationship graphs); and d) makes it easier for Google to target adds to users (more information means higher adsense values). To be fair to Google, I think that all four are important, not just the last one, if for nothing else than they want to provide compelling value-for-effort to increase their user numbers.

As much as I'd like it, I don't see that Google has a strong economic incentive to want users to fragment their identities. This is much more basic than allowing a choice like keeing gender private---that doesn't break any of the four principles above as multiple identies would.

On the other hand, I was talking to my 5th-grade teacher sister-in-law the other night and she spontanously mentioned that she has many of these same issues: doesn't want to be on Facebook, beacuase she doesn't want someone to photograph her with a beer in her hand (or whatever). Her husband's business, however, will probably need to be on Facebook in the near future and she has a couple of preteen daughters, so this is a source of some stress for her.

It would be nice, perhaps, if Google made us do a profile, but allowed us to hide our real names from search and public view while only presenting the alias. That might solve most of these issues. It would be really nice, for example to be able to establish a "bonehead" OpenID/G+ profile and have it common accross a bunch of sites.
posted by bonehead at 7:18 AM on July 14, 2011


It astonishes me when people talk about accidentally posting Wieners on the Internet as this is some sort of commonplace occurrence that is hard to avoid.

Durn. Thought I replied days ago.

I'm not talking about accidentally posting a Wiener shot to the Internet. I'm talking about accidentally posting a Wiener shot to Google Plus. For example, you run a Tumblr of dudes with large erections in tight shorts, and then post a semi-related shot to Google Plus that you didn't think was explicit but someone else did and then Google wipes out all your profile and your content, etc..

Is that likely? No, but likely enough to make me pause to think of the explicitness of the stuff I post, which is a shame. Hopefully they will figure out content settings like Flickr did.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:39 AM on July 14, 2011


Nicknames are allowed in the 'name' field. So are initials. As long as people you know in real life would recognize it, it's fine...

This is the part that is odd to me. I have an online presence to deal with people I know online. People who know me IRL, know me IRL.

And I don't know Google IRL.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 11:03 AM on July 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


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