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Google+ multiplies anger by subtracting pseudonyms
July 16, 2011 5:16 AM   Subscribe

Not so fast, internetpseudonym, on signing up for that Google+ account. Turns out you can only use your real name or face account suspension. Users don't like it and some are worried about safety, but Google isn't budging: "To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you...You can use pseudonyms to upload videos in YouTube or post to Blogger."
posted by Brandon Blatcher (201 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Not a problem, since I have no intention whatsoever of using Google+.
posted by bwg at 5:20 AM on July 16, 2011 [16 favorites]


Remember when it was weird to use any of your real information to sign up for things?

You wouldn't even put your birth year at the end of your screen name.

I miss that Internet.
posted by JLovebomb at 5:23 AM on July 16, 2011 [45 favorites]


Not a problem, since I have no intention whatsoever of using Google+.

PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR FASCINATING INNER LIFE DUDE.
posted by enn at 5:24 AM on July 16, 2011 [94 favorites]


Not a problem, since I have no intention whatsoever of using Google+.

+1
posted by NoMich at 5:25 AM on July 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


"Remember when it was weird to use any of your real information to sign up for things? You wouldn't even put your birth year at the end of your screen name. I miss that Internet."

Said a user named JLovebomb. :)
posted by pla at 5:26 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't want the Internet knowing who I am! I just want them to know who my friends are, what we're talking about, what we look like, what media I consume and what my current mood is. Privacy is very important to me.
posted by nathancaswell at 5:26 AM on July 16, 2011 [81 favorites]


This is disgusting, considering that there's a law forcing all of us to use this service.

Jesus Christ. Don't like it? Don't use it. Just make sure to tell us about how you're defying the mandate and not using it. Because you'll be a folk hero.
posted by Mayor Curley at 5:26 AM on July 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


My co-workers usually call me hey, asshole! Perhaps they use more polite speech att Google HQ.
posted by Termite at 5:26 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


enn: "Not a problem, since I have no intention whatsoever of using Google+.

PLEASE TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR FASCINATING INNER LIFE DUDE.
"

No.
posted by bwg at 5:29 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


New York Times, via.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:30 AM on July 16, 2011


Said a user named JLovebomb

Sure, it may look silly to you, but it was probably mis-copied by an official at Ellis Island from the original 'Lobenheim' (meaning 'place of praise').
posted by benito.strauss at 5:32 AM on July 16, 2011 [23 favorites]


It makes it difficult for people like me, who tend to hold social circles where nobody actually uses their given names. I'll be seeing how long it takes for them to delete my profile out from under me.
posted by Silverdragonanon at 5:33 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, Facebook has this exact same policy. It isn't enforced much these days though.
posted by schmod at 5:36 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previously
posted by Bovine Love at 5:37 AM on July 16, 2011


I love this policy, and it improves the quality of the service, from my point of view.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:39 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


pla, my username is not even close to my real name. I picked it from a DMB song, the lyric being "Make a bomb of love and blow it up." The J comes from loving the letter J. The last and most important reason was to have a unisex name. I am interested in nothing beyond that in iderifying myself online.
posted by JLovebomb at 5:43 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


All the better for your creditors to serve you via the internet my dears, don't buy a pumpkin patch for your google+villefarm if you owe someone money, they'll likely be able to drain your bank account for repayment in short order.

There's something to say here about the corposecurity state and the reclassification of anonymity as a social status tool available only to the overlord class, but I'm probably already on a list somewhere so I'll let Foucault do it.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:44 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


How does it improve the quality? Seriously? I saw a user named Melanie Smith or some other real-sounding name, and she was leaving repeated comments on threads like "Hi! Please be my friend! XOXO" Requiring real-sounding names doesn't keep out spammers or trolls.
posted by desjardins at 5:45 AM on July 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


Justin Lovebomb, however, doesn't feel the same way, I see. Well, according to Google anyway.
posted by JLovebomb at 5:45 AM on July 16, 2011


I wonder how they're rooting out pseudonyms. Some fiendishly clever algorithm, I suppose. Presumably it won't be long before people with unusual real names start getting the boot. Would, say, Goodluck Jonathon or America Ferrera pass the test?
posted by jack_mo at 5:45 AM on July 16, 2011


That was to DWRoelands.
posted by desjardins at 5:45 AM on July 16, 2011


JLovebomb : pla, my username is not even close to my real name.

I, uh... I got your point, and agree wholeheartedly. Thus the smiley.

As Mayor Curley pointed out, though - We have the option of simply not using it - An option I think many of us who value our online pseudonymity will choose to exercise.

/ Says the user called "pla", and not for his actual initials
posted by pla at 5:52 AM on July 16, 2011


For the record, my second google plus account (assigned to my favorite fedora) is still running, as is its' facebook page of three years.
posted by sandswipe at 5:54 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, Facebook has this exact same policy

I thought the main selling point of Google+ was that it isn't Facebook.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:54 AM on July 16, 2011 [12 favorites]


That's what I thought, benito.strauss. What's the point if they are going to be exactly the same?

Here's what I said on the site:

Huh. Well, I've added my last name to my profile for now to avoid having to provide ID to reestablish my account... which would be problematic, since my ss# is in my maiden name, my passport is in my first married name, my residency ID is in my first married name, same as my passport (was too lazy to change)... none of which are my real last name that I use. Unless they are willing to use my Visa card + marriage license + something official with pic -- which is a little much, I think.

But I'm not at all sure I'm going to continue with the Google accounts, or Google+... or anything Google. It depends on how they handle the Real Name issue.

For one thing, it is a significant bar to gaining more women users (which is already a big problem), both for reasons of more fluid ID situations (as in my case), and because of the more critical problem women have with online harassment and stalking. Everyone (but Google?) knows that women who speak up on controversial topics online are frequently subject to (often mind-boggling) attacks and harassment, including efforts to penetrate their real world identities and lives, and that real life stalkers and abusers of both women and men try to track their victims down via social media.

I'm in Greece, so it's not terribly likely that internet kiddies are going to come throw a rock through my window if I say I don't like their favorite video game or make any kind of pro-feminism comment, but most people don't have an ocean between them and their most likely harassers.

Aside from that, there are so many career and political issues involved that this policy makes no sense. Are we going to use and promote social media that functionally bars:

* People who have privacy issues related to their safety?

* People who would lose their jobs if some of their opinions on political and other issues (sexual identity, abortion, gay marriage, legalization of marijuana, just for starters) became known, or who would find their positions stalled or harmed because of their political leanings?

* People who are at risk of government censure/arrest/imprisonment for their views?

If whatever marketing schemes Google hopes to exploit are more important than these serious human rights concerns, I certainly won't be using their applications or services. Any of them.

I'm waiting with interest to see how Google responds. Finger on the button.
posted by taz at 5:58 AM on July 16, 2011 [53 favorites]


A federal judge has ordered that whether Google is spying for the National Security Agency or not, you have no right to know, accepting the NSA's claim that it can "neither confirm nor deny" that it had entered into a relationship with Google following the China hacking incident in January 2010.
posted by T.D. Strange at 5:59 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


ADDITIONALLY: my hat's last name on google+ is "Hat." Make of that what you will.
posted by sandswipe at 6:00 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, Facebook has this exact same policy. It isn't enforced much these days though.

And who wouldn't want to use Facebook as a business model? Everybody loves it and it certainly never has led to a single privacy concern at all.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:01 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Clearly, I don't hide behind a fake name. A part of me thinks it's because it's kind of childish and game-playing. But I mostly do it because it keeps me from being an asshole. I'll throw out some snark, but I'd probably be a total douche if I didn't associate my name from what I say online. YMMV.
posted by CarlRossi at 6:02 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


Google's statement, "Google Profiles is a product that works best in the identified state. This way you can be certain you’re connecting with the right person," is ludicrous, because of course you can't be certain of any such thing based only on the name that someone chooses to display on their service. Heck, I continue to have problems with my car insurance company after being insured with them for several years, because they also insure someone else in this region who has the exact same name as me, and they occasionally still send me that person's mail.

However, this statement from one of the linked columns is also ludicrous:

[I]n the United States (which is where Facebook and Google+ call home) you are legally permitted to use any name you like, as long as you are not using that name with the intent to defraud anyone. In short, the social media giants may soon not have any other option, as the law trumps their TOS.

Impotent legal posturing isn't going to get us anywhere with this problem. As others have pointed out, nobody has to use G+, and they're not breaking any laws by having their own rules for their own completely opt-in service.

All that said, I hope they eventually realize what a genuine concern this is for people. They may be of the mind that "If someone harasses you, you can always take them to court," or something like that, but the fact is that most people who don't run huge companies like Google don't have the resources to fight harassment and abuse and stalking on their own.
posted by Gator at 6:04 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


A real-sounding name is not necessarily a real name. The policy doesn't hold a lot of weight and the enforcement is mostly locking out people whose credibility and identity are wrapped up in their online pseuds rather than their given names.

I get Google's intent with the policy and I kinda' sympathize, actually, but they're doing it wrong in pretty nearly all possible ways. The use of an online pseudonym has very little to do with user intent.
posted by ardgedee at 6:07 AM on July 16, 2011


--it keeps me from being an asshole--

This is only theoretical. I don't believe my use of a pseudonym (the same one for 10 years) has affected my web behaviour at all. I'd just prefer to keep my real name away (mostly) from my web life. I am a bastard in 2 universes.
posted by peacay at 6:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


Like it or not, the old World Wide Web, comprised of a vast number of independent servers, connected by decentralized protocols that could connect them uncensorably by taking any route, is dying.

What is emerging is a new Corporate Web, where a handful of giant corporations like Facebook, Google and Amazon, own vast datacentres, monitoring and controlling all the traffic in their private networks.

"Don't like it, don't use it" was a reasonable sentiment for the old decentralized web. You could easily ignore any of the small nodes it consisted of.

But Metcalfe's Law means you can't easily refuse to use the new huge corporate sites. If you're under 30 and want to have a social life, you need to be on Facebook. It's not so easy to avoid closed, private networks when almost everyone else is on them.

Google Plus is marketed as an alternative with better privacy:
You and over a billion others trust Google, and we don’t take this lightly. In fact we’ve focused on the user for over a decade: liberating data, working for an open Internet, and respecting people’s freedom to be who they want to be. We realize, however, that Google+ is a different kind of project, requiring a different kind of focus—on you. That’s why we’re giving you more ways to stay private or go public; more meaningful choices around your friends and your data; and more ways to let us know how we’re doing.
Since it's an emerging service, still in beta, but with the potential to become a major player, it's pretty reasonable to ask them to be serious about privacy.

Pseudonyms have always been an important part of free expression. Thomas Paine published "Common Sense" as "an Englishman". The Federalist Papers were published as "Publius". Benjamin Franklin first wrote as Silence Dogood. Jonathan Swift wrote almost entirely under pseudonyms. Voltaire was a pseudonym. Mary Ann Evans would likely have remained obscure if she hadn't been George Eliot.

The old World Wide Web gave us greater freedom of expression that we'd known before. The Corporate Web may eventually give us less freedom than we've known before, as nothing outside it gets attention, and everything within it is restricted to a particular spectrum of acceptable opinions, as anyone who posts to it is subject to reprisals. It may no longer be possible future George Eliots, who would be dismissed as members of minority groups if they were open, to be taken just as seriously as white heterosexual non-transsexual males.

If the Corporate Web is inevitable, it would be good if it has as much free expression as we can force upon it.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 6:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [89 favorites]


I saw this earlier in the week on Reddit: "I started setting up my Google+ account this weekend. I think it's cute how Google plays dumb and asks me to fill in my personal information."

It wasn't so much that I had to use my real identity, I tend to do that anyway ad I hope it makes me a better online citizen. What weirded me out was once I filled out just a handful of items in my profile, it became creepy how accurate a Google search for myself became. I feel like either they've known about me all along, or I just helped them put the final pieces together. It did amuse me though, that a Google image search on my IRL name brings up this guy. That isn't me.

I really like G+, and I like meeting and hanging out with mefite's there. Though now I have to learn a bunch of their real names and then remember which mefi they are. And I like doing it without my mom or colleagues knowing about it thanks to circles. It seems to me that Google is blending Linkedin Twitter and facebook pretty well. I can see this service becoming an awesome professional and scholarly tool. But you can also use it to see ColdChef's new beard.

As a mefite recently posted on G+, "You know who else put their friends in circles? Dante."
posted by Toekneesan at 6:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, the printing press has just been invented. It's a huge threat to the established order. But instead of trying to ban it, the powers that be just invent some new printing presses. One that prints only 140 characters at a time. One that prints on lead plates that are too heavy to take anywhere beyond your nearest friends' houses. And one that stamps the owner's full name at the bottom of every page.

Everyone decides that the old Gutenberg-style printing press is passe and switches to the shiny new ones. Threat to the establishment averted.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:13 AM on July 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


Clearly, I don't hide behind a fake name. A part of me thinks it's because it's kind of childish and game-playing. But I mostly do it because it keeps me from being an asshole.

That's interesting, but I think the point here is that some people do hide behind fake names, and may do so for all sorts of very valid reasons. It's great that you don't have to, but that may have more or less to do with your personal bravery and commitment to pure personal expression than with your being a relatively uncontroversial and stalker-free person who doesn't have to worry that using their real ID online could get them into real world trouble of some kind.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:16 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Not a problem, since I had my name legally changed to RandomKeyStrike.

That does raise the question - what about these performance artist types who did change their name to Bacon Lovin' Man or whatever?

Personally, I address the issue of social networking by being really bland. I run in circles from the ultra-religious to you name it (not talking about G+ circles), so if you really want to know what I think, it's better to meet me for coffee sometime. My facebook associated with my real name is also associated with my day job, so you're not going to find anything there besides what cute thing my kid said. I speak my mind a bit more on mefi, but even here I try not to be an asshole.

My parents also had the foresight to name me something really, really common. Google my real name and you'll find all kinds of stuff that may or may not be me. Even my usual "handle" when I don't really care about anonymity (my name plus some numbers) gets picked at random by others, so while if you knew it you could google up a bunch of my internet activity, even that's not all me, and you'd be bored to death by page 3.

I think privacy and social networking are kind of difficult to pry apart, seeing as how the whole point of social networking is to have your web of relationships mapped on the internet. So if I called myself Kirby Vacuum but was associated with a number of my real life friends, how hard would it be to out me? Even if we all used pseudonyms, that only makes it a rather simple cryptography problem.
posted by randomkeystrike at 6:22 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My parents also had the foresight to name me something really, really common.

That's very nice for you but some of us aren't so lucky. There is exactly one person in the world with my real name.
posted by enn at 6:28 AM on July 16, 2011 [13 favorites]


...b-b-b-but I've spent 15 years building up my pseudonym!

I like the anonymity. People would treat me differently if they knew I was really George Clooney.
posted by mazola at 6:29 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Everything CarlRossi just said applies to me as well.
posted by davebush at 6:29 AM on July 16, 2011


Personally, I address the issue of social networking by being really bland.

Same here. But ideally on these types of sites, you could have two (or more) accounts. One with your real name, where you keep up with friends and family that you know outside the Internet. And one with a pseudonym, where you connect with people on the basis of ideas or experiences, ones that you might not want associated with your other identity. (The threshold for "controversial" is lower than many people might realize. Mainstream Democrat? You've just alienated Republican potential employers.)

Connecting with people that you already know in real life preserves existing hierarchies. Connecting with people on the basis of ideas and experiences threatens them. It's not surprising that giant corporations want you to stick to the former.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:30 AM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I have no trouble not being an asshole while using a pseudonym. I'm mystified why it seems to be so difficult for some.
posted by desjardins at 6:31 AM on July 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't believe my use of a pseudonym (the same one for 10 years) has affected my web behaviour at all.

Jessamyn said recently that in her experience at meetups, people behave very differently in person than on the site. (The context was responding to someone who had said, "Based on behavior here, I'd never want to attend a meetup!") That's purely anecdotal, but it's presumably a very informed anecdote and it aligns with common sense: People are more likely to behave like childish jerks when they are hidden behind a computer screen than when they're face-to-face with fellow human beings.

And that sucks. So the more we can squash that effect, the better, for any social circles I'm involved in. The arguments about anonymous speech aren't persuasive for me. I studied those issues a fair bit in law school, and I do have a healthy appreciation for the need for anonymous speech—but the legitimate need for anonymous speech is a lot more limited, in my opinion, than tends to be portrayed in these discussions.

It makes it difficult for people like me, who tend to hold social circles where nobody actually uses their given names.

That argument has popped up before, and it's an interesting one. I'd like to hear more about it. What sort of social circles are these? I saw similar comments from a number of people in the last thread on this topic and I wondered, "Are these all people who do most of their socialization online?"
posted by cribcage at 6:33 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is no more danger in using your real name on Google+ than there is in having it published in the phone directory.
posted by Renoroc at 6:36 AM on July 16, 2011


Facebook has this exact same policy. It isn't enforced much these days though.

This is also just not true. Facebook just recently made a huge push to "deface" users with fake names. They sent out notices telling them they had to use a real name. They then removed profiles of people who didn't comply. It was enough profiles to make the main stream news (i.e. I didn't read this on a tech blog). I know a couple people that had to change their names. In both cases these people just picked realer sounding aliases, but facebook is still enforcing this rule. They just aren't effective at it.

Forcing people to use their real names reminds me of the axiom, "Locks only keep honest people out." Seems like the very people you would want to insure are real are going to be the ones least likely to be so. I doubt if a pedophile in Wisconsin is going to be using his real name.

Where this gets confusing to me is that corporations are going to be rolled into google+ this week. "Marketplace" had a segment about how 100 companies where getting profiles and that these corporate invites were going to be coveted. So Coke and IBM and Apple can use their "real names," but I can't use something other than "Christopher L. Jorgensen"? Once they throw these invites open to all companies can I use "thisflapfirst"? (a name I use for any of my side businesses). Can I use "Jackass Letters"? (A three year old website I run that costs me more money than I make doing it, but I use my real name there, and that site is "me"). What if I register a corporation? LLC papers aren't that expensive. Can I be "Well Hung in Iowa" as long as I have a company called that?

This is the interesting rub to me. Once again a corporation is going to have more rights than an individual. Corporate identity will be protected, but individual identity will be restricted to who google+ (dumb fucking name by the way) says they are allowed to be?

Aside: The reason google+ is a dumb name is that google itself treats the plus character as a special character, so if you want to for example google "google+ corporate accounts" to actually be able to find a mention of them you get all of google, and not just google plus, thrown into the reseults.
posted by cjorgensen at 6:38 AM on July 16, 2011 [15 favorites]


From the Google isn't Budging link:

Let's hope this is one of those policies that Google intends to enforce only in cases of trouble-makers, because if they enforce the policy strictly, they're going to be turning away a big potential audience. A lot of people don't want to be on Facebook precisely because they don't want to use their real names.

Well, one of our MeFi compatriots' G+ account was terminated over the real name issue, and this person certainly was not causing any trouble. In fact, that pseudonymous account was a marker for many of us, being one of the few names we recognized among the real names, and served as one way to find related online friends.

I'm just wondering if G+ can have it both ways: they get an unprecedented number of early signups from blogger/IT types because G+ is perceived as being more responsive/aware of the concerns and issues of this (perhaps arguably more sophisticated) user group, yet they want to strongarm this requirement. Will it fly?
posted by taz at 6:40 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


There is no more danger in using your real name on Google+ than there is in having it published in the phone directory.

As long as you don't use it to post anything that's more interesting than a phone directory.
posted by Ralston McTodd at 6:40 AM on July 16, 2011 [25 favorites]


My friends and I were discussing this very issue a few day ago. They are all tech savvy - which is all the more reason I was really surprised at how non-concerned they were about this.

Google is (supposedly) one of the good guys, but they are becoming part of the giant corporate ball rolling over the internet. Without being too hyperbolic, the internet is one of the most democratizing developments ever. It gives a voice to millions of people who wouldn't otherwise have one. Anonymity is not just a convenience to a lot of them.

We have a system now where you can choose to use a pseudonym or not. If you want to use your real identity, feel free to do so. That is waaaay different than being required to use your real identity. It serves no real purpose, especially in a culture that supposedly believes that ideas and opinions should stand or sink on their merits and not on who is voicing them.

Like with everything, the more acceptance people show for this arrangement, the more sites we'll see using a similar setup. Not a good direction, IMO.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 6:47 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Renoroc: There is no more danger in using your real name on Google+ than there is in having it published in the phone directory.

All the phone directory shows is my name, number, and address. Google has access to quite a bit more. Different people have different comfort levels of what they want to share with the world. Look through some AskMe questions and answers and I think there a lot of people might not be as open about potentially touchy subjects if they knew that it could be immediately be linked back to them by anyone with a computer.

Circles is a way of addressing that on one level, but you're putting a lot of trust in Google today, as well as Google several years down the road.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:49 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


This is a misguided policy that is unevenly and arbitrarily enforced. I wrote a huge post about it, identity, and trust on G+ and +mentioned most of the engineering team. So far they still have not suspended my account, which uses the same name you see here, or even acknowledged its existence. Judging by this post from Paul Adams, it seems that Google is in some ways intentionally obtuse about how humans really interact. Googlers do seem to be celebrity hounds, though, so maybe if some famous person made a stink about it (like Randall Munroe did to get the public gender requirement changed) perhaps they would pay attention.

The real burning question here though, is how does Scott Adams feel about this policy?
posted by SpaceBass at 6:55 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think there's an assumption that the only reason someone would not use their "real" identity would be because of they want to act like dishonest trolls on a sugar high, liberated into unseen levels of trollery by their anonymity. That doesn't have to be the case.

I run an arts nonprofit and many of my peer organizations possess Facebook accounts (not pages). These accounts don't represent real people, but neither do they represent, say, 45 year old white guys pretending to be teenage girls or some other myth of online identity. We actually use Gmail at work, for a variety of reasons, so if I identified my own work Gmail account as my organization, it would actually be in some ways more honest and more transparent than having it be myself. I don't think Google would want me to do that, though.

Any thoughts? Should I just create an account with the name of my organization? It doesn't seem like Google+ has an equivalent even to something like Facebook Pages, so how do you, as a periodical, community group, nonprofit, etc., use it to disseminate information, invite people to events, etc.?
posted by johnasdf at 7:01 AM on July 16, 2011


My real name is Roger Williams. I have no problem whatsoever with people knowing that because it's completely useless for uniquely identifying me -- go ahead, try Googling it. I'll wait.

Now that you're through with your tour of Rhode Island, if you want to actually find me you will have a lot more luck starting with localroger.
posted by localroger at 7:02 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


There are very different levels of anonymity, adding a sock puppet to make some extra snarky comments here is several magnitudes from a virtual political insurrectionest (say a Bradly Manning) that will have the full efforts of the government tracking ip's. True anonymity is getting really hard.

Some of this is probably being driven by the chatroom bullying stories. I expect Google does not want to be front page news about how the circle caused a pretty teen's suicide. Now that would be evil, no?
posted by sammyo at 7:04 AM on July 16, 2011


I had to set up a dummy Facebook account for work last year, and it rejected a bunch of login names on the grounds that "this doesn't sound like a person's name." I finally had to use the (dead) founder of our workplace.

I always thought the whole point of the Internet is that you can come here without the real world constantly following you around.
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is no more danger in using your real name on Google+ than there is in having it published in the phone directory.

Lebanese Facebook Users Arrested for Defaming President.
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Tabriz (Iran) Resident Arrested for Facebook Activities
Zimbabwean Vikas Mavhudzi Arrested over Facebook Comment.
Facebook helped governments spy on and arrest Flytilla activists
Egypt Arrests 4 Facebook Activists.
Egyptian Facebook user faces five years in jail for posts.
Three years for profiling a Moroccan prince on Facebook.
Woman arrested in Saudi Arabia for leading ‘right-to-drive’ Facebook campaign.
Chinese Police Arrest Woman for Supporting Liu Xiaobo on Twitter.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [73 favorites]


Are we going to use and promote social media that functionally bars: In a roundabout way, I think this is the point Google is trying to make. For people in these situations, it's probably not safe for them to be in social networking situations. Their pseudonyms probably aren't protecting them as much as they think they are.

It would drive me nuts if someone I cared about compromised their safety/job because they wanted to participate in something like Google+. I think it's a good thing that Google+ is forcing the public/private choice on people very early in the process, rather than letting certain people enter these networks under a false sense of security.
posted by puckupdate at 7:08 AM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


There is no more danger in using your real name on Google+ than there is in having it published in the phone directory.

For some people, there's a very real danger in having their name, address, and phone number published in an easily-accessible place like that. People have stalkers, abusive exes, ex-friends, bullies, bosses, dangerous relatives, etc. So people have the option not to have their information published in the phone book. They aren't required to publish it in exchange for having phone service. They can have a phone, but they can opt out of publishing their real name in the phone book. The phone company won't refuse to give them phone service if they refuse to be published in the phone book.
posted by Gator at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Renoroc : There is no more danger in using your real name on Google+ than there is in having it published in the phone directory.

How many employers use the phone directory to screen potential applicants?

(whether or not they can do so legally, if you started a new job in the past decade and seriously think they didn't google your name and check Facebook, Myspace, LinkedIn, etc, before making an offer, I have a bridge to sell you).
posted by pla at 7:09 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


At least three of the people currently in my circles on G+ are signed up with fake names or internet handles, and one is using firstname-lastinitial. I'll put $10 on each that none of them are suspended or forced to change it.
posted by briank at 7:11 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


People who have privacy issues related to their safety?
People who would lose their jobs if some of their opinions on political and other issues...became known
For people in these situations, it's probably not safe for them to be in social networking situations.


That would be potentially every woman and everybody in an at-will employment situation. For starters.

Talking about information "becoming known" is underselling it. It's closer to "becoming associated with you for the rest of your life in such a way that anyone can find it in a matter of seconds." The Internet does not have a sense of time. Did you have any ideas as a teenager that you're glad no one remembers anymore?
posted by Ralston McTodd at 7:17 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


How many employers use the phone directory to screen potential applicants?

Less and less t these days, but checking a five year old phone book for a name and matching home phone would be a +1 checkoff for stability.
posted by sammyo at 7:18 AM on July 16, 2011


desjardins: How does it improve the quality? Seriously? I saw a user named Melanie Smith or some other real-sounding name, and she was leaving repeated comments on threads like "Hi! Please be my friend! XOXO" Requiring real-sounding names doesn't keep out spammers or trolls.

Yeah, MySpace didn't do so well with that. I'm interested to see how Google does.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:20 AM on July 16, 2011


...a +1 checkoff for stability.

Not for the person running that kind of check, I can tell you that much.
posted by griphus at 7:21 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


My dog will be disappointed that she can't have a Google+ account in addition to her facebook and twitter accounts.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:27 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My dog will be disappointed that she can't have a Google+ account in addition to her facebook and twitter accounts.

She'll just have to use her real name like everyone else.
posted by device55 at 7:29 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Renoroc: "There is no more danger in using your real name on Google+ than there is in having it published in the phone directory"

When I signed up for my land line, they told me I could use whatever name I wanted in the phonebook. Any pseudonym or made up name.

There are also unlisted numbers, for people who don't want to the phone company to identify them at all.
posted by galadriel at 7:30 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Ralston McTodd: The Internet does not have a sense of time.

Perhaps the answer is to start changing real name every decade or so.

I have an (AFAIK) unique name as well, first page of google for it has pretty much everything there is to know about me. Being known sans pseudonym could have a pretty direct impact on me as well as I'm self-employed and my name is, in that respect, my reputation.
posted by titus-g at 7:32 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


For people in these situations, it's probably not safe for them to be in social networking situations. Their pseudonyms probably aren't protecting them as much as they think they are.

This is probably true, but I doubt it's the point Google is trying to make. Google is all about connecting the dots for reasons of search and other sorts of information-connecting (mostly advertising). I don't assume they're hostile but their purposes aren't mine and may run counter to what I want. My real name is thoroughly tied to this handle so I'm already screwed unless I want to give up a 10-year internet identity (I don't) but I can understand others being grumpy about this.

The other thing is that, technically, it's not "safe" for any of us to be in social networking situations with our pictures and information hanging out there. At any time, any of us could lose out on jobs, become subject to a crazy stalker, or piss off someone in a position of authority in some way, shape, or form (with or without g+ to facilitate). Those folks could then use Google to fuck any of us over big time and we might never even know it. That's scary to consider, but it's the downside of the brave new world where we're all connected. The internet makes the entire world a small town.
posted by immlass at 7:33 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another consideration I’ve been thinking about concerns history and legacy. We live in interesting times, but it seems we prefer to delete our participation in these events. One reason I don’t participate on networks anonymously is I’d prefer perhaps the occasional embarrassment to complete and everlasting obscurity. I actually want my kids and grandkids to find some of the things I’ve contributed to the world. Not that any of it changed the course of human events, but it will be relevant to them, and a way I can communicate with them after I’m gone.

Sure, anonymity is a powerful political tool, but I think it’s misused as much as it's leveraged for good. And just because G+ requires real identities, I don’t think that will prevent the next Arab spring. I just wonder if we’re allowing an inflated fear of dystopias bury our social participation from our ancestors and historians.
posted by Toekneesan at 7:34 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


For whatever it's worth, Facebook has this exact same policy. It isn't enforced much these days though.

Earlier this week a trans woman was removed from Facebook under this policy. Looks like they enforce it selectively.

I've heard Facebook's policy as "you have to use your legal name"; it looks like Google+ is saying "you have to use the name people call you", which isn't exactly the same thing.

(And I'll admit that I think of mollymayhem and jay_beans, both of whom I have seen many times in real life, as Molly and Jay; I have to remind myself that those aren't their names.)"
posted by madcaptenor at 7:39 AM on July 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


I signed up as Cunning Linguist because I want to keep my Real Name account separate from my Imaginary Internet Friends account, but when I tried to put my metafilter join date as my birthdate, the whole gmail account was abruptly shut down and I was told I had to use a credit card to pay thirty cents to prove I wasn't nine years old. So now my most anonymous gmail account is now the one google knows most about. Faugh.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:40 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


Yikes.
posted by Gator at 7:47 AM on July 16, 2011


CarlRossi: "it keeps me from being an asshole"

In a discussion paralleling this one on G+, someone else said:

Yes, there can still be assholes, but I least respect someone who OWNS being such an ass. Hiding behind a fake name is childish.

So using your real name keeps you from being an asshole...unless you're quite willing and happy to be an asshole under your own name. Which apparently guy #2 is, since he was responding to a post listing some "legitimate reasons why someone would not desire to use their real name in a highly open, globally indexed and very public environment such as Google+."

So it's okay to be an ass if you use your real name? So using one's real name doesn't prevent one from being an ass. I posit, therefore, that what keeps one from being an ass is that one is, in fact, already not an ass. Name usage is incidental.
posted by galadriel at 7:48 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think there's an assumption that the only reason someone would not use their "real" identity would be because of they want to act like dishonest trolls on a sugar high, liberated into unseen levels of trollery by their anonymity.

I think that misses the point. The assumption isn't that "the only reason" you would hide your real name is to behave like a jerk. Rather, the assumption is that if you reveal your real name, you are less likely to end up behaving that way.

But there's also another assumption at play, and I think it's one that gets overlooked in IT echo chambers like MetaFilter. Pseudonym-filled communities scare off normal people. The draw of Facebook is that it's not a community filled with strangers and God-knows-who. It's your mother and your brother, your girlfriend, your high-school classmates, your coworkers. It's real.

Most of society doesn't want to use pseudonyms. Nobody wants to be introduced at a social event to somebody who says, "Hi, John! My name is InternetAwesomeGuy31." That's why Facebook appeals to people who will never create MetaFilter accounts. It's not supposed to be MetaFilter; it's something different. By prohibiting pseudonyms, I think a social network opens itself to many, many more people than it is excluding.
posted by cribcage at 7:57 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've been using Leopold Bloom (from Ulysses) so you could just use whatever fictional name doesn't sound fake
posted by Cloud King at 8:04 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


So, cribcage, why should anyone use G+? Why not just use Facebook?
posted by taz at 8:07 AM on July 16, 2011


I've been using Leopold Bloom (from Ulysses) so you could just use whatever fictional name doesn't sound fake

Until Facebook gets some well-read intern who thinks "wait, haven't I heard that name before?"

I kind of feel sorry for people named Harry Potter.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:09 AM on July 16, 2011


It makes it difficult for people like me, who tend to hold social circles where nobody actually uses their given names.
That argument has popped up before, and it's an interesting one. I'd like to hear more about it. What sort of social circles are these? I saw similar comments from a number of people in the last thread on this topic and I wondered, "Are these all people who do most of their socialization online?"

I can think of four off the top of my head, none of them are online activities. I used to be in a running group, something like the Hash House Harriers, where everyone had a pseudonym or nickname. I spent a couple months hiking the Appalachian Trail years ago, I still keep in touch with people I only know by pseudonym and only know me by a salty nickname I was given. I know a handful of current and retired DC bike messengers who identify themselves by pseudonyms only. And my neighbors are into rollerderby, she skates and he coaches/referees. They frequently host people from out of town who are only known by their outlandish skate names.
posted by peeedro at 8:17 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My pseudonym can be such a jerk!
posted by mazola at 8:19 AM on July 16, 2011


Clearly, I don't hide behind a fake name. A part of me thinks it's because it's kind of childish and game-playing. But I mostly do it because it keeps me from being an asshole.

Please, tell me your secret, 'cause it's now working for me.

...why should anyone use G+? Why not just use Facebook?the obvious problem of participating on a free service, but clearly I had too many blinders on.

We should have seen this coming. Mefites were signing up and adding each other left and right, but under their real name, which was a bit confusing and doesn't have much capital. Who the hell is Jon Anderson? I don't know anyone by the at name. Ooooh, that's what's his name from Metafilter. NOW I know who he is.

It was a flaw from the start, for a social network. Google placed itself in between the relationships, demanding that it know who you are as opposed allowing you to assign that name that I know you as. It's almost as if they have no clue or more likely, do have a clue but don't care.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:20 AM on July 16, 2011 [8 favorites]


thank god my real name is funny person
posted by infini at 8:22 AM on July 16, 2011


I, for one, have had huge issues with the real name policy. It was better when I just called myself SharmRetiree.
posted by Hosni Mubarak at 8:22 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Earlier this week a trans woman was removed from Facebook under this policy. Looks like they enforce it selectively.

I'm sure they'd bounce her for violating their Gender Binary Submission law too. I see Google+ is perpetuating that bit of nastiness as well. Male, Female, or Other? Why, how progressive.
posted by FelliniBlank at 8:26 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


But how will they know what ads to serve me if they don't know my gender?

I've never really bought that this is a problem. Remember that "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads"; I'm sure they can figure it out.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


madcaptenor: "Earlier this week a trans woman was removed from Facebook under this policy. Looks like they enforce it selectively."

Heh, if they go by birth certificates I could be vulnerable to that as I haven't danced for the gender recognition people yet. Come get me Facebook! I'm deceitful!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:30 AM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


For me, Twitter would be just fine and I wouldn't be inclined to try G+ – if I didn't have trouble with the 140-character thing. Brevity is the soul of wit, but lacking that much wit or soul, I can't seem to find much to say in ittybitty bursts (and become fairly bored reading same). Maybe we should petition Twitter for a Twitter+ expanded comment version?
posted by taz at 8:37 AM on July 16, 2011


Burning Man folks are all going by their aliases all the time as well. That's another example. Though every time I see my friend hogging her Facebook account, somehow all the obviously fake named people have not been caught yet. Beats me how that's happening. Hell, there's a page for a stuffed animal in there somewhere.

I can very easily see a situation pop up in which some woman who has an abusive ex stalking her online is forced by her work to start up Facebook and Google+ accounts with her real name, and there will be no recourse for her except to quit or get stalked. (And depending on her business, she might just keep on running into this problem at the next job.) There's no dispensations for someone who might have a goddamned good reason for not being honest about where exactly she can be found at all times.

And as someone else pointed out, just because you can be honest about your name NOW doesn't mean that you won't be stalked or otherwise targeted for abuse in the future, but now there's no way to get that information off social networking.

I miss anonymity. Not that I was majorly doing it one way or the other (I also have a generic name that one can find many of online), but at least you could sort of filter your online life so that those who you wanted to know it was you could find you and your relatives, bosses, and stalkers wouldn't.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:42 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


Twitter+: 150 characters.
posted by mazola at 8:43 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


T.D. Strange: "A federal judge has ordered that whether Google is spying for the National Security Agency or not, you have no right to know, accepting the NSA's claim that it can "neither confirm nor deny" that it had entered into a relationship with Google following the China hacking incident in January 2010."

This is why we can't have nice things.
posted by symbioid at 8:47 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google+ does not now have and will never have my real name. If they dont like it, they can find another user. If they shut down my G+ account because of it, so be it - I think G+ pretty much sucks anyway. I only have it now to see what developments arise since it's still very early days. For all I know it could turn out to be really great. Right now, though, as far as I'm concerned, it sucks and circles, which everyone seems to be raving about, are an incredibly poorly implemented pain in the balls.

I have good and legitimate reasons for not wanting my real name broadcast far and wide across the internets, and those reasons are not Google's business. Google is not my mom. Google is not my parole officer. Google can kiss my ass.

As for my behaviour, I dont take anyone seriously who will accuse me of doing something that I've never been guilty of doing, which Google is insinuating by insisting that I use my real name so that it will help to prevent me from potential misbehaviour. Thanks, Big Brother, but no thanks. I am exactly the same person online that I am offline. If others aren't, that's not my problem and I shouldn't have to take responsibility for the bad deeds of others. If my brother knocked over a bank, they wouldn't put me in jail because of it.

People DO refer to me in person by the name Perilous - it's an online identity that I've had for over a decade now. It is what the great majority of people I know or have met online know me as. Nobody can find me by my birth name because I've never used it online, and I'm sure as hell not going to start now. At various meetups I've introduced myself using my given name and nobody has known who the hell I am. As soon as I tell them my online name, it's instant recognition. According to Google's rules, that fact should cover me if they suspend my account because of my name. I dont believe they'd keep their word, but under their own explanation, since that is the name most people know me as, then they should take no action against my G+ account.

For those who insist that anonymity is for cowards or wrongdoers, they are wrong. Period. And I dont entertain those arguments because theyre worth their weight in dogshit. If you want to know why, do the research on why that argument is wrong. I'm not going to repeat it because I dont have to - I owe nobody any explanations.

TL;DR: I refuse to be treated as guilty before being proven innocent. Fuck that shit, and fuck anyone who tries to enforce it, excuse it, or be an apologist for it.
posted by perilous at 9:00 AM on July 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


I wonder if google has a choice in their policy with the United States Army et al being among their most powerful stakeholders. I am not technically naive, but I am certainly not a wizard and it appears to me that in practice this policy will matter very little to almost all. TheophileEscargot is on there and I see that he is in a circle of Miguel Cordoso and that Sergey Brin is in the same circle (or at least this was the situation when I was just browsing around random yesterday).

The loopholes are big enough so that a huge amount of slack is going to get through.

I value anonymity (I do not want my mom or my boss to have my politics and my religion and my drugs and my sex in plain sight) and I value identity (if somebody signs their traceable name to a controversial opinion they have far more credibility in my view). It is a conundrum.
posted by bukvich at 9:11 AM on July 16, 2011


Google placed itself in between the relationships, demanding that it know who you are as opposed allowing you to assign that name that I know you as.

Exactly.

After more than ten years of using this handle online, it is the face I present to the internet, and that's as valid an "identity" as any. I would venture to guess that more people know me by this handle than by my real name, due to the nature of the medium and the fact that I live in a cave and chase away with a furious bellow curious villagers who chance to come too close.

Yesterday Google locked down my profile, saying it had been "reported for offensive material". I don't know what was offensive about it. So just to see what would happen, I changed my profile to my real name and voila! it was magically restored.

I'm not very happy about that.

I'd like to continue using G+. It's fun. It's nice to have a way to have longer, unstructured conversations with a critical mass of MetaFilter friends, who constitute by far the largest number of people in my circles. And Hangouts will become, I think, the Killer App -- it's really, really slick and it works effortlessly -- and that's from a guy who's never been interested in any form of "video chat" at all.

But I hope they reconsider their name policy. I'd like to go back to being BOP again.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 9:13 AM on July 16, 2011 [11 favorites]


Anonymity is moot unless you go through a proxy server. Your ip address and Mac address identify you quite well for the purposes of google and the NSA.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


What is emerging is a new Corporate Web, where a handful of giant corporations like Facebook, Google and Amazon, own vast datacentres, monitoring and controlling all the traffic in their private networks.

If the Corporate Web is inevitable, it would be good if it has as much free expression as we can force upon it.


A Call to Take Back the Internet From Corporations
posted by homunculus at 9:17 AM on July 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


cribcage: Pseudonym-filled communities scare off normal people. The draw of Facebook is that it's not a community filled with strangers and God-knows-who. It's your mother and your brother, your girlfriend, your high-school classmates, your coworkers. It's real.

Cribcage has it. This is a bit like how some people complain about how Facebook doesn't let you customise your profile when the consistency of the interface is one of the reasons Facebook trod all over Myspace. For most people, the fact that everyone is using a real name is as desirable a feature as the inability to deposit animated gifs in every corner of the screen or use non-scrolling backgrounds covered in winged unicorns the same colour as the text. And once all of those people have signed up everyone else will have to sign up as well or miss out on the fun.

I can understand why people who have consistent online pseudonymous identities are annoyed that they can't use them on G+, but they're not the market Google is going for here and to the extent that G+ accommodates them it will become less desirable to the vast bulk of potential social media users.

I can also understand the concerns about stalking etc, but I'm not sure I understand why using an obviously fake pseudonym is a better way of dealing with them than using a plausibly real pseudonym - and if Google does a better job of implementing reliable, transparent privacy policies than Facebook, a company run by consciously evil jackals in human form, then it shouldn't matter what name people go by.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 9:18 AM on July 16, 2011


> Anonymity is moot unless you go through a proxy server.

Theoretically this is true. In practice I don't think it is. I can imagine a situation where there is a meeting of big shots and some big shot says something like it will just minimize pains in asses if we require "real names" and fewer idiots think they are anonymous and can pull shit like downloading child porno, networking with shady terrorists, &c.

Voila you get this "real names required" policy though it is easy to make a simple argument that the policy makes no sense. Organizations do shit like this every day.
posted by bukvich at 9:22 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


A Thousand Baited hooks, again, I have to ask: why not just use Facebook, then? I understand why Google would like to challenge Facebook, but why would users choose to use G+ over Facebook if the policies will be the same?

I decided to try G+ because the groups that I'd like to interact with are my online community friends. I don't want to join Facebook with my real name and get rightwing bullshit and cheesy spammy jokes from my relatives, and I talk to my immediate family on the phone. They don't use Facebook. This doesn't mean I demand that Facebook change to be the way I want it to be, it just means that I tried G+ hoping for not-Facebook, and I wonder how many others did likewise. Facebook is already there, and thriving, for people who are afraid of scary pseudonymous internet peeps.
posted by taz at 9:27 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Anonymity is moot unless you go through a proxy server.

I've been known to use a proxy server every now and then, but that's not the kind of "anonymity" that most people have to worry about. Carefully used pseudonyms are a pretty good barrier against your personal opinions and viewpoints becoming available to (and/or a problem for) employers, or potential employers, or anybody else who is not close enough to you to deserve that information.

Just because you use the database doesn't mean you have to be a record that's freely available to anybody.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:32 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I use my real name of G+ and I don't see a problem with it. If I disagree with the TOS of a particular site, service or app, I don't use it. That's kind of the point of a TOS. If you disagree, opt out. The fact that there are so many that are angry about G+'s TOS just goes to show how appealing G+ is to the masses... but they have every right to put rules in place for users. They aren't forcing you to sign-up. They are offering a service and if you want to use it you must accept the TOS or risk the removal of your account based on the fact that you were dishonest and violated the TOS.

Why so serious? If you don't like it, don't use it. It's just that simple.
posted by Wotak at 9:33 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It makes it difficult for people like me, who tend to hold social circles where nobody actually uses their given names.

That argument has popped up before, and it's an interesting one. I'd like to hear more about it. What sort of social circles are these? I saw similar comments from a number of people in the last thread on this topic and I wondered, "Are these all people who do most of their socialization online?"


I'm in the SCA. I know, literally, hundreds of people - some for several decades - who I have no or little idea what their legal (as we would say "modern") name is. I know many, many, many people who maintain two FB accounts - one in their "real" name that connects them with a small number of co-workers, family, and other non-sca contacts, and a second using their SCA name, where they have a very, very large number of contacts, many of whom are also using their SCA names, and a decent number of whom wouldn't have the first clue what the modern name of their friend was.

I've been to funerals (and a few weddings) where I only learned the person's modern name on the day of the event. There are over 100,000 SCA members in the US and Canada, and for a lot of people it's pretty important they keep their "weird hobby" under wraps. I'll be interested to see what G+ does with all of us.
posted by anastasiav at 9:41 AM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


Theoretically this is true. In practice I don't think it is.

It's true when you're depending on anonymity to preserve your life or freedom. In the US pseudonymous identity is probably sufficient for seperating your leftwing poltical views from your teabagger boss or sanitizing your real life friends from learning about your uncomfortable BDSM obsession. But if you're an independent journalist or solo lawyer working on mortgage fraud abuse or a government whistleblower you're not going to want to rely on the benevolence of facebook or google not to reveal your ip address to the authorities or the hitsquad hired by the fixers at the bank you're trying to bring down. hell you can't really even trust google or your ISP not to rat you out for downloading Nuns With Big Guns.

To say nothing of someone in a country with real constraints on politcal speech like mentioned above. Look there to see how seriously these companies really take protection of online speech.
posted by T.D. Strange at 9:42 AM on July 16, 2011


I wonder if the whole 'your employers and your grandmother can see this and connect it back to you' concept is going to eventually ruin social networking sites. I can see them becoming elaborate second resumes, full of insincere worksafe sentiments nobody actually cares about, with none of your actual friends allowed on lest they break the illusion.
posted by Mitrovarr at 9:45 AM on July 16, 2011 [7 favorites]


I have no trouble not being an asshole while using a pseudonym. I'm mystified why it seems to be so difficult for some.

Christ, what an asshole!
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on July 16, 2011


Having a pseudonym online is no different than having a password on your laptop. For some things, it's just good practice.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 9:50 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yesterday Google locked down my profile, saying it had been "reported for offensive material". I don't know what was offensive about it. So just to see what would happen, I changed my profile to my real name and voila! it was magically restored.

I'm not very happy about that.


Is this because you are using your primary gmail account and it is based on your real name? And its the profile name that you changed to BOP?

I'm confused because I've had funnyp since beta days back in 2004 and my full name given as funny person - how is google going to know that gmail account belongs to anyone else in the world?
posted by infini at 9:53 AM on July 16, 2011


I went to a small high school with a couple of dozen graduates per grade. Facebook used to let you see everyone who claimed to graduate the same year (I can't figure out how to do it now) but last time I checked 1/3 of the people who claimed to graduate in my year were fake. Their profiles looked real, but no one knew who they were. I assumed they were for spam.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 9:57 AM on July 16, 2011


That's very nice for you but some of us aren't so lucky. There is exactly one person in the world with my real name.

Just making an observation about how the experience of privacy differs from one to person to another. Not really writing a prescription here, nor am I saying it's a substitute for sound privacy policy. My own privacy policy involves not giving anything very meaningful to FB or Google, two major info-hoovering behemoths, that you couldn't figure out by watching me for 2 days. Nor am I fooled into believing that my meta-handle would fool the FBI for 10 seconds if they got very interested in me.

Pros and cons. I have a touch less concern about someone googling my name - maybe 10% less. OTOH, you probably got your name as a gmail address (if you wanted it) and you don't run into problems with DMV, credit and background checks because of namesakes who misbehave.
posted by randomkeystrike at 10:04 AM on July 16, 2011


Is this were we all post our personal anecdotes about web anonymity and whether we personally need it?

I've used personally identifiable names and profiles for twenty years. I'm also glad I had the foresight to use an anonymizer when I was 18-23 and still figuring lifeout (ah alt.* groups how you are missed).

I'm more bothered by anonymous accounts that do not appear to be so, than ones that are. If someone wants to be "Lestor Deficit" and build an identity and social network around publishing Tea Party debt reduction tracts let them do so. But, clearly tag the account as anonymous. And, pass a law that if any governmental agency sets up accounts for propaganda purposes they must be similarly tagged.

Hey, stop laughing.
posted by meinvt at 10:09 AM on July 16, 2011


Who the hell is Jon Anderson?

He's got kind of a high voice and some have accused his lyrics of being absurdly cosmic.
posted by philip-random at 10:10 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, and by the way Brandon, the end of that comment is spot-on:

It was a flaw from the start, for a social network. Google placed itself in between the relationships, demanding that it know who you are as opposed allowing you to assign that name that I know you as. It's almost as if they have no clue or more likely, do have a clue but don't care.

This absolutely speaks for me and my immediate frustration with this new Google thing, because, as someone who has thus far avoided a meaningful relationship with Facebook, I actually had a smidgen of hope for it.

Clearly, it takes all kinds to make the internets work, any number of whom may see no problem at all in having their every whim, yuck, snarl, perversion preserved in perpetuity. What annoys the f*** out of me here is that Google (who do know evil) have either stupidly, or most likely very consciously, chosen to shrug off all those who want part of their online experience to be a sort of uncontained playtime. That is, they make up a name, maybe even an entire personality, and go out there (in there?) and muck about. And, as with much play, a lot of learning ends up happening. And it's fun.

So yeah, allow me to anonymously (though not really) pass a sincere Fuck You on to all y'all Google-Types and the various advertisers, corporate interests, normals, pinks, straights, perverts, security experts this policy seems to designed to satisfy.

*** preceding comment was vetted and passed unanimously by the secret cabal of writers, artists, street fighting culture destroying god hating Anarchists, who collaborate on the ongoing online project known as philip-random. We Love You All. ***
posted by philip-random at 10:46 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's really not that difficult a concept. Did you pay for it? Did you pay for it? Did shiny moneys come out of your bank account, and go into Facebook or Google's coffers?

If the answer is no, then they do not have your best interests at heart, and they owe you nothing. This is as true of Web 3.x as it is of television. They want real names because a complete, cross-indexed marketing profile is more valuable to advertisers, in dollar terms. Pseudonyms work directly against their business interests when collating your accurate lifestyle information is their business.

Google+ is a free service. You are the product, not the consumer. Google is no different from Facebook in this respect.
posted by Rockear at 10:57 AM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


I think this is less about money and more about the big shift towards Real Names online as part of the security theatre, not to mention the evil spectre of Anon
posted by infini at 11:01 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


God damn, what a bunch of whiners. There are plenty of places where you can be an Internet fuckwad if you want to. Like here, for example. I'm glad that the places where I use my real name the fuckwads cannot hide behind their precious, precious anonymity. It's like a gun check for trolls.
posted by 0xdeadc0de at 11:02 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a bit concerned about this because my husband signed up under a pseudonym. "Papagiorgio," as in "Nick Papagiorgio"--it's been his "name" under his email for long enough that I was surprised when we met a decade ago that he wasn't Italian. It had already been associated with his google profile because of his existing Buzz account, so he didn't have to do any identity verification or whatever, he just signed up, and he hasn't gotten around to changing it yet--though apparently some profiles have been flagged due to name changes, and I worry that his real name will seem less real to them, or something.

It all seems really ill-defined, which is mostly what makes me uncomfortable about the whole thing. I didn't have to do any identity verification with them, either. When you signed up to be informed of their opening their services before the flood of invites, it just asked for a name and didn't specify. I worry about his account being locked down because how else is he going to see adorable pictures of our kitty from the next room? Harumph.

Other than that, I adore g+. I hope they sort these issues out.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:09 AM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


briank: "At least three of the people currently in my circles on G+ are signed up with fake names or internet handles, and one is using firstname-lastinitial. I'll put $10 on each that none of them are suspended or forced to change it."

Well, Bitter Old Punk is one of five people in my circles who's been forced to switch to their real name or a more convincing pseudonym, including one who was using his real given name and 'X' for his surname (though not for political reasons, AFAIK - I wonder if Google would've let it stand if he were).
posted by jack_mo at 11:10 AM on July 16, 2011


Wait a minute....I couldn't log into Gmail this morning because my "account had been suspended" - is this seriously because I have made like 2 G+ comments and my profile simply lists "The" in place of my real first name? Really?!? Fuck that noise.
posted by tristeza at 11:21 AM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'll be seeing how long it takes for them to delete my profile out from under me.
posted by Silverdragonanon on July 16

If you currently have a private profile but you do not wish to make your profile public, you can delete your profile. Or, you can simply do nothing. All private profiles will be deleted after 31 July 2011.
posted by Lanark at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2011


Collusion, Visualize User Tracking In Realtime
posted by T.D. Strange at 11:29 AM on July 16, 2011


I have to ask: why not just use Facebook, then? I understand why Google would like to challenge Facebook, but why would users choose to use G+ over Facebook if the policies will be the same?

One policy is the same (or even n policies are the same) is not the same as everything is the same.
posted by yeolcoatl at 11:52 AM on July 16, 2011


Metafilter: you can be an Internet fuckwad
posted by SpaceBass at 11:59 AM on July 16, 2011


I am glad that you posted this Brandon. It's actually more widespread than just Google+ really.

Google is requiring that real names be used on your Google Profile and thus on any product that requires Google Profile. Up until now your Google Profile could be private but starting July31st all private profiles will be deleted and you will be required to make your real name public on your Google Profile.

Currently this only affects such products as Google+, Piccassa (photos) and Buzz but Google has clearly stated that Google Profiles will be the sign in mechanism that ties together all Google products so it is only a matter of time before Google mail is affected as well.

There are real and legitimate reasons for wanting to use a pseudonym on Internet discussion. Let me give you one from a personal point of view. Many of your here have heard me speak on transgendered issues and have heard me say that I changes gender myself. Were I using my real name I could not be participate in such discussions or give my point of view. Why? Because I have been fired from 2 jobs just because they found out I had changed sex - they told me that was the reason in one case and in the other I found out half a year later. I asked the one how they found out and they told me that they Googled my name. Those lost jobs hurt.

I once was involved in a battered woman's shelter where many woman stayed there with their children after fleeing physically abusive relationships. Husbands were always trying to find out if they were here. Such people would be in physical danger if their real names could be tied to discussions of theirs which may indicate their locations.

How many Rush Limbaugh fans have you ever worked for? Me, I've worked for quite a few. My posts here , as most of you know, tend to be on the Progressive side. I even call myself a Socialist these days. How many of those Ditto-head bosses are going to rule me out of work at their place when I apply just because they Googled my name and saw my political beliefs? How about you. Would you be comfortable that everything that you say on the Internet being available to all your future employers?

And of course there is the very real issue of bloggers in China , Iran , Syria, Egypt and so many other countries who's voices would be forever silenced if they were forced to reveal reveal their own names - quite possible thrown into prison or worse if their real names were revealed. Google is catering to these countries.

Write to Google. Let them know how you feel. Blog about it elsewhere. This is an issue that has a chilling effect on free speech. It is a overt political move by Google to appeal to those people and countries that wish to prevent such speech.

What do you want your Internet to be five years from now?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:25 PM on July 16, 2011 [28 favorites]


So using your real name keeps you from being an asshole...unless you're quite willing and happy to be an asshole under your own name.

I agree with you. I'm saying it prevents me from being an asshole. If he wants to associate his name forever with something about 'those kids today' or the like, he's welcome to do it until he's blue.
posted by CarlRossi at 12:50 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


0xdeadc0de: "God damn, what a bunch of whiners. There are plenty of places where you can be an Internet fuckwad if you want to."

Yeah, so what if a significant minority of internet users are unable/unwilling to use a new service for reasons of safety or job security? So what if this is part of a greater trend away from anonymity? So what if future generations of queer, trans, alternative, or political kids don't get safely to explore their identities online the way we did? So what?

Whiners.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:01 PM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


God damn, what a bunch of whiners. There are plenty of places where you can be an Internet fuckwad if you want to.

Way to prove your point, dude.
posted by madamjujujive at 1:13 PM on July 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


But the solution to the problems of violence and discrimination shouldn't be anonymity. Anonymity is also how bigotry and prejudice get away with it.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:16 PM on July 16, 2011


When World of Warcraft decided it wanted to implement its RealID for use on the forums as well, there was a major outcry about the necessity of anonymity for many people. You guessed, it there were plenty of people who berated the "whiners" and said people just wanted to hide behind their toon's name so they could troll.

End result? Blizzard actually listened and decided to keep real names off the forums. So really, anonymity isn't the end of the world.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 1:20 PM on July 16, 2011


In other words, maybe we can't rely on our avatars to solve these problems. Maybe we actually need to do it.
posted by Toekneesan at 1:21 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm a little torn. My own personal privacy issues are not huge. I'm generally pretty circumspect about what I say, even hidden behind my handle...although I do speak more freely and honestly with pseudo-anonymity. I'm incredibly fortunate to have no scary people in my past, and I'm content to take the future as it comes. Other folks don't have that luxury, though.

However, I'm also an educator who does a lot of stuff with kids online and I know a lot of kids out there with scary people in their lives. Google offers a ton of free online services that are very useful for kids and teachers, and if they all start requiring a public Google profile, that's a problem. It's a fairly common practice to not let kids use their last names in public online spaces. It's possible that Google will have a special way of handling the accounts of minors, but it's still a cause for concern. I don't mean to sound all hand-wringingly "Won't someone think of the children?" but in this case, it's a valid though.

Taken into account with the other issues raised above, hopefully Google will listen. I'm really liking Google+.
posted by smirkette at 1:22 PM on July 16, 2011


Wuggie Norple :So really, anonymity isn't the end of the world.

I wonder how this guy feels about that.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:41 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


My professional name goes with my real job where I work with children in a sensitive field with a great deal of contact with the public.

My given name is how my friends and family find me and is linked with hilarious videos of my children and cats as well as information about what I am growing in my garden or currently knitting.

My forums handle lets me share experiences related to my job and hobbies, as well as my personal experiences with - say - anal sex and domestic violence.

My gaming handle is linked with a clan who loves to grief and a forum filled with tasteless pornography.

... I guess I misunderstood how this whole "circles" thing was going to go down.
posted by lilnublet at 2:20 PM on July 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


I have the impression that Google is trying to integrate the kind of granular privacy that we experience in our real lives: what we share with our co-workers is not the same as what we share with our friends or Bible study group, but you are always "you" to all those different sets of people. I think that's a far better system than Facebook and Twitter's default of "every shared detail of my life is an open book to everyone," anonymous or otherwise.

I don't want to live like someone on reality TV. I do compartmentalize information, as I think most everyone does. My real life identity is visible here because I feel that's the responsible thing to do for me. I don't link to that info from the outside world, so there's little chance of it being found and associated with me, but I would not be ashamed if it were.

I think, increasingly, we are going to be living fractured digital lives: innermost thoughts that we feel the need to express without identification placed on anonymous blogs and journals; the rest of our life shared to various degrees with friends and the public.

There are absolutely those who want and need anonymity, and there are services for them too. You can use Google+ for one part of your life, a blog for your revolutionary manifesto, and a profile on a gay dating site, and never the twain shall meet. Insisting that a free service support pseudonyms is as silly as demanding that all social services display real names. There is plenty of room for a multiplicity of solutions.
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul at 2:40 PM on July 16, 2011


Insisting that a free service support pseudonyms is as silly as demanding that all social services display real names.

I don't see that at all. Because Google already knows exactly who I am! I'm the guy at this IP address who reads MetaFilter and reddit and buys MP3s and graphic novels from Amazon with a Visa card and probably has a sick relative due to recurring visits to dementia/Alzheimer's support forums and recently had a roof leak if his presence on home improvement help sites is to be believed. Google knows me inside and out.

And I'm OK with that. Google's welcome to market to me. They don't spam my inbox, the ads are unobtrusive and sometimes helpful, and if my participation in their services helps them hone their marketing algorithms, so be it. They're not giving me free stuff out of the goodness of their hearts.

But that's not what the pseudonym is for. The pseudonym is so that asshole Doug who I haven't spoken to since high school can't all of a sudden show up and pretend to be my friend. It's so my myriad relatives can't inundate me with religious tracts and right-wing screeds. It's not to protect me from the corporations. If they want me, they got me. It's to shield me from the IDIOTS I KNOW IN REAL LIFE.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 2:54 PM on July 16, 2011 [21 favorites]


But the solution to the problems of violence and discrimination shouldn't be anonymity. Anonymity is also how bigotry and prejudice get away with it.

"Get away with" what, exactly? Free expression? Having worldviews I don't agree with? Seems to me that's a major feature of anonymity, not a bug... for all values of "expression" and "worldviews".

I've never understood the impulse to censor, especially for this reason. How on earth can discouraging unpopular speech protect unpopular minorities? It seems obvious to me that tools which are intended to keep bullies down are even more easily turned against the bullied... who are rarely on the strong side of the power balance, anyway.

Make no mistake: there are many harmless political, sexual, and personal issues which are far, far less socially acceptable than racism/sexism/whateverism. Forcing people to use their real names to try to weed out the latter will only do more damage to the former.
posted by vorfeed at 2:54 PM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


There's no way that google or facebook can tell if you choose a pseudonym that sounds like a real name -- especially if you sign yourself up for gmail under that name. I'm sensitive to internet privacy (and skeptical of the beneficence of corporations that seem to be able to unilaterally modify contracts), but this is a tempest in a teacup.

Facebook or google+ members in nations where protest is a deadly risk (not, despite what more alarmist people may think, in places like the US [yet]) can easily undertake the same method of pseudonymous communication.

Calling yourself Vampyre Wintreharte is likely to attract the kind of attention you don't want. Calling yourself Fred Johnson (or Gina Vernon or any reasonably common-sounding name in your locale) is likely to give you many years of happy pseudonymous usage.
posted by chimaera at 3:02 PM on July 16, 2011


And in places like China, or Syria, whether you use your real name or a pseudonym might not make too much difference if you're connecting to the internet from a location where the government can track you down.

The use of pseudonyms as the only method of anonymization offers virtually no protection when pre-paid phones, accessing the internet from public locations and other means of obfuscation are necessary to decrease the risk of anti-government activity in dangerous jurisdictions.
posted by chimaera at 3:06 PM on July 16, 2011


I don't see the big deal but, then again I use my name here, on my blog, on facebook and pretty much everywhere else.
posted by SuzySmith at 3:09 PM on July 16, 2011


.. I guess I misunderstood how this whole "circles" thing was going to go down.

This whole comment captures why I had to leave FB. I couldn't relax and post random stuff - not with a group that consisted of everything from Number One Uncle down to Last Born Cousin Young Enough To Be Daughter as well as highschool friends in unnamed places doing unmentionable activities under unknown names with a fair sprinkling of professional contacts from myriads of languages and cultures around the globe.

Big fail for me.

( Otoh, this makes me think about the fact that we are all human beings, multidimensional like a prism, not 2D characters in a book or a movie)

Even with circles, due to Google's history of great hamburger success as demonstrated by Buzz, Wave and Whatnot, I'm sticking to meta. I had fun today online in a way I haven't in a long while.

Bora Horza Gobuchul's comment is spot on.
posted by infini at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2011


Calling yourself Vampyre Wintreharte is likely to attract the kind of attention you don't want. Calling yourself Fred Johnson (or Gina Vernon or any reasonably common-sounding name in your locale) is likely to give you many years of happy pseudonymous usage.

This is exactly why their claim that it has to do with verified identities is dumb. It's superficial security theatre for social networking.
posted by SpaceBass at 3:11 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm curious about the algorithms they are using to detect the "fakes".
The google+ account I'm using does not have a real name attached to it.

But it is attached to an Android phone* that checks in fairly regularly. I wonder if that is enough to be considered "real", in that the account clearly maps to a person, not a spam bot.

*(granted the phone doesn't have a real name attached to it either, but still).
posted by madajb at 3:12 PM on July 16, 2011


But how will they know what ads to serve me if they don't know my gender?

I've never really bought that this is a problem. Remember that "The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads"; I'm sure they can figure it out.
posted by madcaptenor at 8:30 AM on July 16 [1 favorite +] [!]


HAH! The "best minds" at Google are not so smart. I looked up the "Ads Preferences" that Google had discerned for me, based on my searches. They have me listed as a male, 65+. ???? Utterly wrong. It explains, though, why when I look up a news story or tidbit about, say, Nigeria, I see ads for "Hot Nigerian Girls." As a feminist, this pisses me off deeply. Google has done a very efficient job of offending me almost every time I use it, which is a lot less lately.
posted by Corvid at 3:25 PM on July 16, 2011


They have me listed as a male, 65+. ???? Utterly wrong. It explains, though, why when I look up a news story or tidbit about, say, Nigeria, I see ads for "Hot Nigerian Girls."

Aha, that explains the Kenyan girls but doesn't explain the mature men from China... hmm
posted by infini at 3:30 PM on July 16, 2011


*puts Vampyre Wintreharte in "Douchebag" circle*
posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:37 PM on July 16, 2011


Wow, you guys. I feel so boring now after checking my own ad preferences. The weirdest thing in there is "Fiscal Policy." I kind of get why it's listed, just not so much why it is.
posted by SpaceBass at 3:37 PM on July 16, 2011


Way back in my analog life, I adopted a stage name. In the decades since, it has become the name by which I am best known...even my own mother calls me Bonefish! Whenever my prose got published, I used my real name as a pen name, to separate my music from my writing endeavors (for some reason, people don't take musicians seriously when they aren't playing music). When I eventually got online I created other handles, for those activities not related to either my performing or my writing. Using my stage name as my Meta handle was not really a conscious step to integrate my persona's, it just happened. When I finally got on FB, I had to create two separate profiles to keep the worlds from colliding, one with my better known stage name and the other with my pseudonymous given name. Haven't had a problem yet.

"use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you"? hah
posted by bonefish at 3:42 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Get away with" what, exactly? Free expression? Having worldviews I don't agree with? Seems to me that's a major feature of anonymity, not a bug

If you think anonymous speech is the same thing as free speech, I would argue that you are aiming far too low. I don't think that's what the founding fathers had in mind when they gave us that right.
posted by Toekneesan at 4:23 PM on July 16, 2011


My google ads preferences apparently include the state of Pennsylvania. Now, I wouldn't mind moving back there, but I haven't lived there in a year...
posted by madcaptenor at 4:33 PM on July 16, 2011


I think anonymous speech is an important part of free speech, yes. Several of the founding fathers published anonymously under pseudonyms, so the idea that they "didn't have this in mind" is unlikely.
posted by vorfeed at 4:37 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


So let me make sure I understand this. If I sign up for Google+ using a normal-sounding name that is not the one that appears on my birth certificate and some jerk* decides to report me, I lose access not only to google+ but also to all of the other services that google provides me?

That sounds like too high a price to pay for a neat toy.

*I assume this is really how people are getting caught.
posted by winna at 4:38 PM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Google is all about connecting the dots for reasons of search and other sorts of information-connecting (mostly advertising)

I send forwards. Not that kind of forward. I'm on a lot of local and regional listservs, and I forward/send relevant events, opportunities, and links to people who I believe will find them interesting and relevant - or to people who are connected to the people who will find them interesting and relevant. I try not to send many. Recent examples of my role as a dot-connector include hooking up a broke housemate with free catfood via Craigslist, forwarding information about a protest of high interest to a bay area friend with a lot of connections and interest in that particular set of issues, finding the perfect job listing for a friend whose boyfriend with a particular skillset needs a work visa to immigrate, and connecting an event in need of bicycles with a person with a fleet of bicycles for lending.

I believe it is Google's goal to make my role obsolete by more efficiently connecting relevant information with the people who would find that information interesting. I suspect they have a harder time connecting folks to non-advertising forms of information, but they appear to work on it, and it is still part of their stated goal. (#7, grants)

This would also help explain more generally why websites want to know as much relevant information about you as possible. Organizations who have something to advertise often seem to believe that they have something that you'd be interested in if you knew about it. Since advertising is the sort of information that is more likely to have a funded route to my eyeballs, it would be interesting to see a Google (and other websites, etc.) that hooks me up not only with relevant advertising, but also with the usually less-accessible background (e.g., investigative news articles) and funding/affiliations of the folks doing that advertising. That investigative background information is the sort of information that is really most relevant to me; I'd like to see more of it along with the ads.
posted by aniola at 4:39 PM on July 16, 2011


I tried to look up my ads preferences and got this message:

Your browser's cookies seem to be disabled. Ads Preferences will not work until you enable cookies in your browser

Good to know ....
posted by Poet_Lariat at 4:46 PM on July 16, 2011


Insisting that a free service support pseudonyms is as silly as demanding that all social services display real names.

I was unaware that one should have to pay for basic human dignity and respect.

I don't see the big deal but, then again I use my name here, on my blog, on facebook and pretty much everywhere else.

I use my real name also, but I don't see someone who chooses not to should be forced to, especially if I don't know them by their real name. That's fucking with social relationships and shouldn't be happening.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:53 PM on July 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think anonymous speech is an important part of free speech, yes. Several of the founding fathers published anonymously under pseudonyms, so the idea that they "didn't have this in mind" is unlikely.

I never said anonymous speech wasn't covered by free speech, I said aim higher. If you really can't say, as yourself, what you're thinking, maybe it doesn't need to be said, at least not in those first words that come to mind. Sure, there are instances where it does need to be said anonymously, but it seems far too often on the Internet that anonymity is used rather than reflection and consideration. I'm not saying that it doesn't have a place, more that it's used instead of thinking and acting civilly. Sometimes it seems as if we're forgetting how to treat each other, maybe it's because none of us are real.
posted by Toekneesan at 5:44 PM on July 16, 2011


This is disgusting, considering that there's a law forcing all of us to use this service.

Jesus Christ. Don't like it? Don't use it. Just make sure to tell us about how you're defying the mandate and not using it. Because you'll be a folk hero.
What's with this attitude? I don't understand why people get so emotional about it. Why the hell do you care if people complain or not? You're free to skip threads where people complain.
It makes it difficult for people like me, who tend to hold social circles where nobody actually uses their given names. I'll be seeing how long it takes for them to delete my profile out from under me.
They said you can use the name people call you, not your birth-certificate name. They just don't want pseudonyms. G+ doesn't limit the number of times you can rename yourself.
posted by delmoi at 7:31 PM on July 16, 2011


I don't see the big deal but, then again I use my name here, on my blog, on facebook and pretty much everywhere else.

Your name is "Suzy Smith". That's practically anonymous. People aren't going to find you by googling, other people have much less common names.
posted by delmoi at 7:35 PM on July 16, 2011



I never said anonymous speech wasn't covered by free speech, I said aim higher. If you really can't say, as yourself, what you're thinking, maybe it doesn't need to be said, at least not in those first words that come to mind.
Yeah I'm sure all those revolutionaries in Egypt and places like that didn't have any use for anonymity. If you're not willing to get beat up and tortured by the police for expressing your views, then you don't really care!
posted by delmoi at 7:37 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


They said you can use the name people call you, not your birth-certificate name. They just don't want pseudonyms.

As mentioned above, for some people, pseudonyms are the name people call them. There's not always an easy line to be drawn between pseudonyms, nicknames, legal names, and names on birth certificates.

Humans are social creatures. I am human. Social networking is a part of modern society as I experience it. I would prefer that the social networking giants are not laying out rules that make it harder for me to social network in the ways that work best for me. If I use a pseudonym to connect to people I know from my favorite casual-blue discussion forum, then I might like to be able to carry those online friends with their online pseudonyms over to social networking sites without us all having to deal with an institutional barrier against pseudonyms.
posted by aniola at 8:18 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I never said anonymous speech wasn't covered by free speech, I said aim higher. If you really can't say, as yourself, what you're thinking, maybe it doesn't need to be said, at least not in those first words that come to mind.

As far as I'm concerned, expressing ideas that "maybe don't need to be said" is the height of free speech. "Civil", "thoughtful" speech is nice and all... but if that were the limit of expression, online or otherwise, there'd be little need for the First Amendment. People don't go before the Supreme Court to defend a polite expression of a popular, widely-accepted idea.

Besides, we're not talking about face-to-face speech. We're talking about having a permanent record of things which may well be very personal, connected to your real name. Not everyone is equally comfortable "saying, as yourself, what they're thinking" in front of their boss, their kids, and their mother. Some things are private, and keeping them private through the use of pseudonyms is both civil and thoughtful. I don't buy the idea that "circles" which are still connected to one's real name are ever going to be sufficient for this purpose -- that just means everyone is one game of Six Degrees of Separation from being outed.
posted by vorfeed at 8:42 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ha! Obviously my days there are numbered. The tradition of anonymity goes waaaaaaaaaay back on the net. *I get* to decide how much I expose, because I'm the only one who cares enough.

Imagine that 10 years from now they pass a law that everyone has to walk down the street naked singing "Kill me now, please" in a pleasant falsetto. Remember how long ago Hitler and Stalin lived? I do.
posted by Twang at 8:51 PM on July 16, 2011


I don't see why they couldn't set things up so that different circles can see either one of your "nicknames" or your "real name".

You have a circle called Metafilter/X ) On(or Off)line Community which is very active. Nobody recognizes your real name, so why show it? Have the option to use your MeFi/OtherGroup nickname.

You have a circle called High School Friends. Choose to show your maiden name or old school nickname.

You have a circle called Family. Choose to show the name they use for you.

You have a circle called Work. Choose to show your professional name.

You have a circle called MyFreelanceIdentity Contacts. Choose to show your Freelance Identity name.

Is that so crazy? It makes sense to me. For each circle, you choose what fields in your profile page you want visible.

..................................

As an example, after I was divorced, I kept my first married name for career reasons, since I was a writer and known that way. But it would have been weird to use that profile with my family, because I no longer used that name otherwise -- it would always be a bit of jar, always a reminder of that marriage that didn't go well. The family would be much more comfortable seeing first name they use for me + maiden name.

Other friends would blink for a second to see Real First Name, because they know me by Nickname + second married name.

Online friends know me by Online Name. If I add them to a circle under some variation of Real Name, they won't know who the hell that is. I don't put online affiliation in my profile, because I don't want the streams crossing.

My dog park friends know me mostly as Sky's "mom," but we still like to sometimes coordinate our walks and plans and talk about our dogs. Why can't they see me that way?

There you have several Just Plain Normal People instances where this real name business makes no sense. No worrying about irritating women stalked by violent Exes, no worrying about silly political dissidents or weirdos who don't want their employers to know that they have significantly different political beliefs.

Just Good Old Regular Folks.

As it stands, I don't see how they could possibly tell if the name you give them is a "real name." They would have to demand birth records, marriage licenses, official documents with that name on them, photo IDs, and maybe notarized affidavits.

My way just seems easier.
posted by taz at 10:31 PM on July 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I like your idea, taz. And I would think that Google would like your idea, because it implies that with the addition of a few circle-dependent fields, a whole bunch of people would start filling in blank spots on Google's Map of Everyone's Connections. It'd be a marketer's dream come true -- the users do the heavy lifting of sorting and assigning their various on- and off-line personae and reap the benefit of having various levels of confidentiality, and Google gets a much better picture of who's whom. Granularity AND pseudonymity.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 11:08 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know if all cities have a police force like ours, but at least in my city this should give the bored night-shift police something to do - scan this "social networking" site for negative comments about the local police force so they know who to "keep an eye on."

I quit sending letters to the editor of the newspaper years ago because the only time I felt inspired enough to send one was when I was truly ticked off about a local police operation or some particularly egregious waste of local money (like the night the snow plow sat outside my door for 5-1/2 hours while the driver talked on his cell phone, ate, and took a nap) and I sure as heck didn't want my name attached to the letter.

When I have something nice to say, I always use my full name, but I'll fight to the last breath to keep anonymity and privacy on the internet, as will anyone with half a grain of sense.

I'll pass on Google+, just on general principles.
posted by aryma at 11:44 PM on July 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Aside: The reason google+ is a dumb name is that google itself treats the plus character as a special character, so if you want to for example google "google+ corporate accounts" to actually be able to find a mention of them you get all of google, and not just google plus, thrown into the reseults.

Did you try it?
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 12:17 AM on July 17, 2011


Oh, one more thing: where I live, both my real first name and real last name are spelled differently in Latin characters than they are in English speaking countries (I'm in one of the very many countries where female surnames take a different ending, plus, my first name is just spelled differently here), and an entirely differently alphabet is used otherwise.

Why couldn't people in Russia or Japan, etc. use their name in their own alphabet for communicating with local friends and their English/other alphabet name or nickname for communicating with global friends and family? The world is bigger than just the U.S.; do businesses really need to expend this much effort to cut people out of the loop?
posted by taz at 1:11 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, also, for everyone who gets disgruntled when issues specific to women are brought up: it's not just women who use different names at different times: my husband was known from infancy until 18 by a diminutive of his full name and from 18 onward by a different shortened version of his full first name -- except for everyone he worked with while living in the U.S., who knew him by a nickname that sounds close to his childhood nickname, but easier for English speakers to pronounce.

So he has had four different first names: full name which only appears on official documents, early-life diminutive (which his childhood friends still call him), adult shortened version, US easier-to-pronounce nickname.

Also, also, also, we live in one of those many countries where kids are most often named after their grandparents... so in one extended family you could have any number of boys, for example, all with the same first and last name. And this tradition persists in families who have moved to the US and elsewhere, whose kids were all born and raised in that country. It makes a lot sense for these people to use different nicks to distinguish among themselves.

will. stop. now.
posted by taz at 3:44 AM on July 17, 2011


Good old Zorba the Greek, doing his part to befuddle the mighty Gootch's engineers.
posted by brokkr at 4:24 AM on July 17, 2011


do businesses really need to expend this much effort to cut people out of the loop?

Yes. Bandwidth costs if eyeballs can't be the target audience for advertising.

posted by infini at 4:25 AM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a friend whose hippie parents gave him a name that appears very fake, so he sometimes has to use a fake 'normal' name to not get rejected from sites or online situations that require 'real' names. He's using his real name on G+ so it will be interesting to see if he's given grief.
posted by General Zubon at 7:34 AM on July 17, 2011


Poet_Lariat, I may have been misunderstood, because what I meant is that to quite a lot of people being anonymous is very important, i.e. why it was a good decision that Blizzard decided it would not out people on its forums. I'm not good at explaining things, just wanted to make sure you didn't think I was saying anonymity is bad.
posted by Wuggie Norple at 8:39 AM on July 17, 2011


As mentioned above, for some people, pseudonyms are the name people call them. There's not always an easy line to be drawn between pseudonyms, nicknames, legal names, and names on birth certificates.
Yeah, if the people you know IRL actually call you a psudonym, then in theory you should be able to use it based on the policy. I think that's pretty uncommon.
posted by delmoi at 1:52 PM on July 17, 2011


Wuggie Norple It's not you - it's me :( The part of my brain that processes for context seems to be on the fritz all this week :(
posted by Poet_Lariat at 2:15 PM on July 17, 2011


My real name is Roger Williams. I have no problem whatsoever with people knowing that because it's completely useless for uniquely identifying me -- go ahead, try Googling it. I'll wait.

Now that you're through with your tour of Rhode Island, if you want to actually find me you will have a lot more luck starting with localroger.
posted by localroger at 7:02 AM on July 16 [8 favorites +] [!]


You identify people by putting information points together. Localroger + roger williams, f'rex.

I just did my realname and nick and got a happy 0 results.
posted by Sebmojo at 2:43 PM on July 17, 2011


Yeah, if the people you know IRL actually call you a psudonym, then in theory you should be able to use it based on the policy. I think that's pretty uncommon.

Sure, but it would be awkward to have everyone calling me Stud.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 2:46 PM on July 17, 2011


You misheard, they called out for Stub
posted by infini at 3:01 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sebmojo : You identify people by putting information points together. Localroger + roger williams, f'rex.

I agree with you - The reasons we use pseudonyms won't randomly try just one data point and give up - But you still miss the bigger picture.

I have an uncommon but not unique name. If you Google my real name, the top three hits go to some stoner musician in Seattle.

Now, you might say that no employer on the opposite coast will realistically mistake me for that person (we won't even go into "what if my waste-of-flesh cousin from the same town has the same name")... And if they took the time to think about it, true, they would not. In the real world, though, they won't take the time to think about it. "Top hit = stoner, next resume in the 300-deep pile".
posted by pla at 4:33 PM on July 17, 2011


Good thing my doppelganger is a successful yoga instructor and not a stoner musician. OTOH, I'm not likely to be applying for any positions where yoga would be useful.
posted by desjardins at 4:44 PM on July 17, 2011


You identify people by putting information points together. Localroger + roger williams, f'rex.

Fuck. I just did that. First result links me with my Twitter username.
posted by desjardins at 4:46 PM on July 17, 2011


You misheard, they called out for Stub

That explains several awkward conversations and one interesting, thought immoral, but quite legal offer.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 4:50 PM on July 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Your doppleganger is a bank. Which back in the day would inspire trust, but these days…
posted by five fresh fish at 9:17 PM on July 17, 2011


Weird, I use my real name most every where. I'm not sure why I need to hide who I am. I'm the same person whether you meet me for lunch, email me or google+/twitter/AOL IM/etc me. Calling me something different for every communication medium seems annoying.
posted by Brian Puccio at 8:13 AM on July 18, 2011


Brian - presumably you're not kinky, not transgendered, and don't have any political or religious beliefs that an employer or government would care about.

I'm the same person whether I'm "desjardins" or Jennifer ______. But not everyone I meet needs or wants to know everything about me. And honestly, there have been cases of people (especially women) being stalked IRL for their online activities. I'm not paranoid; I'm sure you can figure out my name without a ton of trouble, but I like to minimize my risk when possible.
posted by desjardins at 8:49 AM on July 18, 2011 [7 favorites]


Weird, I use my real name most every where.

So do I, but I'm not going to insist that everyone be just like me.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 8:51 AM on July 18, 2011 [2 favorites]


sebmojo: You identify people by putting information points together. Localroger + roger williams, f'rex.

Amusingly, if you do that with me several of the first page hits still involve Roger Williams University. It's mostly the same stuff you get with just "localroger" only with contamination.

The highest my real identity has ever climbed on a plain search for "Roger Williams" was shortly after my online novel was slashdotted, I think it got as high as page seven or eight.

pla: Top hit = stoner

Admittedly being mistaken for a university is not this annoying.
posted by localroger at 9:27 AM on July 18, 2011


You identify people by putting information points together. Localroger + roger williams, f'rex.

Another big one is whois data for anyone with a domain. The number of times I seen peoples full name and street address, all very scary.
posted by Z303 at 9:57 AM on July 18, 2011


For anyone still reading this geek feminism has a pretty exhaustive rundown of reasons people may not want to use "Real names", a lot of them covered up thread but nice to have them in one place
posted by Z303 at 2:01 PM on July 23, 2011


Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

"A striking number of Google+ accounts have been deleted in the last 24 hours as the new social network struggles with its community standards policy around real names - alienating and frightening the people it aims to serve."
posted by mrgrimm at 6:28 PM on July 23, 2011


Emlyn O'Regan has written a great post, Google+, the pseudonym banstick, and the netizen cultural schism about how Silicon Valley apparently doesn't understand the long-standing tradition of net handles, or everything invested in them.

Basically he says your Grandma and Linked-In people are the only others who don't get it. In particular he says Separate Identity is not the weird old past of the net, it is the present. The most switched on online people are Separate Identity.

Reveal: yes, I am among the freshly bansticked. But since MeFi beats G+ in seventeen ways, I am not in mourning.
posted by Twang at 3:51 AM on July 24, 2011


I was banhammered overnight Friday, as I woke up Saturday to discover. I initially filed an appeal with my alternate real name, but this morning I decided it wasn't worth it and just deleted my elfgirl G+ and profile. I'd never bothered setting up a Google profile until G+ started, so it was no loss. I've kept my 'legal name' account, which is what most of the mefi folks are circled under anyway.

I agree with many here who've said that Google clearly doesn't understand that in some ways they're actively antagonizing and driving off long-time web early adopters with this policy. Ten years ago, fifteen years ago, everything was geared towards usernames. Those of us who have been around since then now have 10-15 years of social relationships entirely based on our online identities. And some of us, like me, have entire groups of friends who progressed from online to meatlife friends -- most of whom still call my by my online identity even in person because that's how they identify me.
posted by elfgirl at 8:42 AM on July 24, 2011 [2 favorites]


(And before I solicit the "Ten years? Fifteen years? HA! I was online waaaay before that!" type comments with my response above -- I'm referencing mainly web-based social spaces, not USENET/BBSes/etc.)
posted by elfgirl at 8:49 AM on July 24, 2011


Basically he says your Grandma and Linked-In people are the only others who don't get it. In particular he says Separate Identity is not the weird old past of the net, it is the present. The most switched on online people are Separate Identity.

The author is right that it's two cultural groups with different habits bumping up against each other, but the smug tone about how clever Internet People are compared to dummies like gramma is very offputting. G+ is handling this in the worst way I can imagine so far (banhammering people on reports, which leads to griefing and grudgewank) but elfgirl's argument for pseudonyms (for one example) is much more compelling than those folks are not switched on like the mommy bloggers.
posted by immlass at 2:32 PM on July 24, 2011


I find it offputting that bright, talented, creative people - some of whom have been around the net since forever - are being pushed away from a 'social' network because they've chosen or been forced to use pseudos like the ones we use here ... so that some less-experienced users can feel a false sense of security from supposedly-real names (that could never all be checked or verified).

Many of the people being chased away are the same people who've been harassed all their lives by the "smug tone" of a majoritarian culture very used to imposing its will on minorities and then tsk-tsking when they complain. I'll just leave the case of Rugger Ducky here as an example, since she hasn't been banned yet.
posted by Twang at 7:02 PM on July 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


so that some less-experienced users can feel a false sense of security from supposedly-real names (that could never all be checked or verified).

This blames people who are not unreasonably suspicious of the culture of the old-skool internet for Google's actions. The same culture that allows people to be open and free and discuss things that they would otherwise hold secret under pseudonyms also enables the open expression of prejudice of all sorts and online bullying that makes those pseudonyms necessary and advisable. If your experience of internet culture is things like finding out that a gay woman blogger in Damascus is really an American man in Scotland, wanting some way to prevent that from happening is not unreasonable. Nor is wanting people to stand behind their words and to reduce crapfloods like your average newspaper comments section.

Google's refusal to think through the consequences of their identity management scheme doesn't make those people wrong or unreasonable. Google picked its policy and its shitty enforcement on its own for its own reasons (some of which are to make G+ amenable to FB users and others of which have to do with Google's own data-mining schemes). Blaming people who want the same thing you want--a better internet with less abusive bullshit on it--is letting the people with the power to make decisions off the hook.

The problem with Google's name policy is not smug majoritarian culture. The problem is that Google didn't think through what their policy should be before they went into beta. And the problem doesn't just affect people with longstanding internet pseudonyms, but also a lot of people whose meatspace name usage doesn't match the America-centric pattern that Google's policy has anticipated (e.g., people in Hong Kong). I want a better name policy, but not because I'm a special internet snowflake; I want a better policy because it's the right thing to do for everybody.
posted by immlass at 6:48 AM on July 25, 2011 [1 favorite]


This blames people who are not unreasonably suspicious

Either that or it was an attempt at guessing the most likely reason Google did what it did.

enables the open expression of prejudice of all sorts and online bullying

Nonsense. Do you see that happening here at MeFi? Consider how this approach would play out in meatspace. People should be punished for their behavior, not for their name or the way they look.

The problem with Google's name policy is not smug majoritarian culture.

Citation needed.
posted by Twang at 3:53 AM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Citation needed.

Citation needed for Google's problem being "majoritarian culture" instead of decisions made (or left stupidly unmade) by Google engineers. Given that what Google does is match terms and data, you'd think they'd have a better handle on naming schema from the database side alone.
posted by immlass at 6:23 AM on July 26, 2011


Using Google+ alongside Google Apps - you may find your email addresses get merged: "A few days after I joined Google+ I got a friendly-but-firm email from Google. “We’re consolidating your accounts"
posted by Lanark at 2:48 PM on July 28, 2011


Using Google+ alongside Google Apps - you may find your email addresses get merged: "A few days after I joined Google+ I got a friendly-but-firm email from Google. “We’re consolidating your accounts"

I'm really confused by this, and it's the second or so account like this I've heard. Only two months ago, I finally began phasing out my gmail account in favor of my apps account, because they finally got chat and docs and reader features on apps up to speed with gmail. I had been forwarding all mail to gmail, and responding via gmail with my apps address, but sometimes on certain mail servers it would show my (less profesh) gmail name and it was annoying. But I couldn't sign up for google+ with my apps account. I had an invite, but they don't allow that. So eventually I got a + invite for my gmail, and gave in, and used that. My only email listed is my apps account, and I tend to be signed on to both that chat and my apps chat account at once, which is annoying, and I have to do some jumping around--signed into my gmail account for plus, and also signed into my apps account for email and reader--to have things work the way I want, but google actually facilitates this by letting you switch accounts easily. So . . . I might find my email account deleted now? Why? In what way does this stuff serve google's ends?
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:06 PM on July 28, 2011


What's so hot-damn about the google online environment?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:14 PM on July 29, 2011


Ok, my last post got deleted and my account suspended by I can still access my email and the rest of the services I use.

should I ask for a review of my account as they request or say meh, whatever?
posted by infini at 3:11 AM on August 3, 2011


infini - i've let people know that if i have my account shut down i wasn't gonna bother to try to get it back.

it's not worth it to me. if they can't have a clear policy and that i know that this won't continue, i'm not gonna give them anymore of my eyeball time.

it's not really that great compared to facebook - it's better. but it's too spammy, still.

why can't we have more mefi and lj (i know lj ain't perfect but damn).
posted by symbioid at 10:30 AM on August 3, 2011


thanks for your input, symbioid. I asked for a review but stuck the same name in though added my real world credentials. Lets see what happens. At least it seems to a very narrow cull though, my 7 year old original beta account using the same name/email address is still functional (thank god, since its my root gmail account for all other emails to pop into)

Ironically though just yesterday I was thinking I'd move to my real name after getting to know so many MeFites "IRL" equivalent when this happened. Now... I'm thinking along the same lines you are.
posted by infini at 12:11 PM on August 3, 2011


If you edit your name to comply with our policies in the future, please
respond to this email so that we can re-review your profile.


So I deleted the account. Told them that since I never carried my father's name or even change it when I'd been married, why on earth should I for an internet service.
posted by infini at 2:03 AM on August 4, 2011


Google suspends a Guardian blogger: Google's gormless 'no pseudonym' policy
A week ago, I was stunned to discover that my entire Google account -- gmail, reader, blogger, Google documents, YouTube, Google Plus (G+), etc. -- was suddenly suspended because their system "perceived a violation."
...

Whilst I tried to learn what the problem was, this suspension created a communication blackout that affected my entire life. In the end, I was forced to give up my telephone number to Google so they could text me a numerical code that I could use to unlock my gmail account.

I haven't deleted my G+ account at this point, but I've completely lost interest and haven't been to the site in ages. I was hoping to hear that they were reevaluating or tweaking this decision, but apparently, no.

I'm a bit torn, because I'll need to be knowledgeable about this for work reasons, but all my initial personal enthusiasm and desire to participate has been entirely canceled by this dumb policy, their bully methods, and their refusal to acknowledge the many obvious problems and valid objections. I certainly would never, ever have signed up if they had been explicit that you could lose your Gmail account as a result. I would not have signed up if they had been clear and upfront that you could only use your "real name," whatever that means (I have several), and that they will just arbitrarily decide what is or isn't a real name.
posted by taz at 3:57 AM on August 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


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