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you can have my nym when you pry it from my cold dead signature file
August 26, 2011 11:17 AM   Subscribe

The "nymwars" rage on. Despite a passionate post on their own public policy blog earlier this year, outlining all of the reasons that Google is a strong supporter of the use of pseudonyms on the internet, Google is continuing to take an uncharacteristically draconian approach to the use of pseudonyms on Google+. Google+ users with pseudonyms not only risk losing access to Google+, but also access to other Google services including Picasa and Google Reader as well. Naturally, this is a significant inconvenience for users who are known primarily by their pseudonyms, and a more significant inconvenience to users who use pseudonyms to protect the physical safety of themselves and their families. [previously]

There is an "Appeal Process" whereby users can try to have their Google accounts reactivated, usually by faxing Google a copy of a government-issued ID proving that their name is really their name. Compounding the confusion and upset was the fact that, for two months, the official page for the Google+ name policy stated "If you’re referred to by more than one name, just choose one". Earlier this week, however, that page was changed to one that more closely matches the policy that Google has been enforcing, despite some promising talk from Google execs a month ago.
posted by luvcraft (152 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
I blame Facebook for this trend. Not that this excuses anyone who's jumping on the bandwagon, of course...
posted by Dysk at 11:26 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


From what I hear, Facebook cares a lot less about enforcing the real name and one account per person policies.
posted by smackfu at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I still have a lot of friends inside Google, and I gather this issue is just as controversial inside the company as it is outside.

I think Google has some reasonable goals with the name policy; they're trying to prevent spammers and stupid stuff. But they've really shot themselves in the foot with the way they rolled it out and mismanaged the PR.
posted by Nelson at 11:28 AM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


The claim that being locked out of Google+ causes you to lose access to all your Google services is completely false. The only services you lose access to if you're banned from Google+ are those that require Google+.

Now, it is possible to get entirely banned from Google services by Doing the Wrong Thing (and the famous account Guardian reporter account ban is one of those; see: posting things considered kiddie porn), but that's another story entirely.
posted by introp at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


There seems to be an issue for two classes of people — those who wish to protect their anonymity, and those who are trying to use Google+ push a brand. The former can just use any pseudonym they want that seems like a real name with no problem at all. It's the latter who are kicking up a fuss and it's disingenuous and self-serving of them to conflate the two cases.
posted by nowonmai at 11:29 AM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


You don't get to 500 million friends without making up a few names along the way.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:30 AM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


The internet is not what it was twenty years ago. It doesn't exist in a vacuum, why would it?

If we want to have our privacy or rights enshrined on the internet, we need to see that they're enshrined inside the societies we live in. The more freedom and power that we have as people within our political system, the more we'll have online. It isn't a separate world, it's a facet of this one, and it's quickly adopting the same economic and social problems we have outside.

As much as I admire organizations like the EFF, it's a losing battle if we aren't working towards broader reforms.

Meantime, it sure is uncomfortable for those of us who adopted early, thinking "Hey a place where I can be anonymous, and not limited by my income and social status!"
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:32 AM on August 26, 2011 [15 favorites]


smackfu, aye, but they pretty much popularised the requirement, and they used to enforce it pretty strongly (I've known several people who got banned after changing their name on Facebook to a nickname, though this was in the days when it was still limited to university students).
posted by Dysk at 11:33 AM on August 26, 2011


Take that "twenty years" figure was a quickly typed and terribly inaccurate approximation please. I'm conflating the internet, usenet, and networking in general... but you get the idea.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:33 AM on August 26, 2011


I think the FPP should be edited. Given that the Gmail lockout is FUD, it doesn't belong on the front page.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 11:35 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google != Internet. It is perfectly rational for Google to support anonymity on the Internet, but not within their own services. If you look at what they are doing with the Gmail, Picasa, Google+ etc they are essentially creating their own little walled off section of the Internet. But instead of the concrete security patrolled wall (full of holes) that is Facebook, the Google wall is a nice little picket fence that is easy to jump over, either way.

Nobody is forcing anybody to play in Google's sandbox.
posted by COD at 11:36 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Is the related somehow to Gmail recently asking me for a telephone number? That struck me as very odd.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:37 AM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]




Is the related somehow to Gmail recently asking me for a telephone number? That struck me as very odd.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 11:37 AM on August 26 [+] [!]


I would not be pleased to receive a phone call from the internet.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:39 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Fun fact about Google: In their terms and conditions, it's made clear that any information gathered by any of the Google octopus's tentacles belongs to the entire octopus. Every YouTube video you watch, Google knows. Every Blogspot blog you read, Google knows. Everything you search on Google, Google knows. Everything you view that has Adsense ads or a Google searchbar on it, Google knows. And so on.

And now they want to know your name.

Fuck that. "Don't be evil," my ass.
posted by Sys Rq at 11:39 AM on August 26, 2011 [24 favorites]


Hey guys, I'm sure there are other free social networks for you to use that don't require real names that you can also use for free.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 11:42 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Another downside to using real names.
posted by wpenman at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]




Nobody is forcing anybody to play in Google's sandbox.
posted by COD at 11:36 AM on August 26 [1 favorite +] [!]


There are two ways to look at that. You've chosen a very prevalent one. By exercising your consumer choice you can avoid troubling products and find ones more suited to your tastes. Boycott, shop smart, and let the free market handle things.

The other approach is to attempt to hold retailers/service providers/companies to a standard of behavior that conforms to our collective expectations.

Myself, I'd frame the argument around which one is more likely to yield actual results in the real world.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:43 AM on August 26, 2011 [16 favorites]


If you really need anonymity, there is always the technolibertarian utopia of 4chan.
posted by Renoroc at 11:45 AM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


Is the related somehow to Gmail recently asking me for a telephone number? That struck me as very odd.

That's to help you regain access to your account if your password is compromised. They want to be able to text you. More info here.
posted by purpleclover at 11:45 AM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


nowonmai: There seems to be an issue for two classes of people — those who wish to protect their anonymity, and those who are trying to use Google+ push a brand. The former can just use any pseudonym they want that seems like a real name with no problem at all.

Who determines what seems like a real name? What if I 'really' go by a ridiculous-sounding name? I know at least one bloke who's known to everyone exclusively as 'Bomber'. I can virtually guarantee that if he were to sign up with this name - in many ways more his 'real' name than whatever string of characters is in his passport - he'd be summarily banned.
posted by Dysk at 11:47 AM on August 26, 2011


I cannot believe that I, Ronald McDonald, would have such an issue with my Google+ account in this day in age. It's outrageous!
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 11:51 AM on August 26, 2011


Also, danah boyd's post ("'Real Names' Policies Are an Abuse of Power") explains what the nym wars are about better than the Twitter feed, imo.

To prove her point, she links to my name is me, a website compiling examples of people whose work/identities are compromised by real name policies.
posted by wpenman at 11:53 AM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


I don't use my first name. My parents gave me two names, and since I shared the first one with my father, always used my second one. If I get a call or a letter that's for "FName LName", I know it's from someone who does not know me. My other-than-legal name is what everyone calls me.

I'm in violation of Google's policy. I've got a pretty name-like name, so I don't expect them to find me out unless I annoy a griefer. My first and middle name were both in the top 5 for boys names the year I was born, so I'll pass.

It makes me unwilling to heavily invest in their services. They could decide to take it away if they want to. That's true for anyone on any service most of the time, but it's more clear when I nominally can't prove I'm me with my government issued (see "someone who does not know me", above) ID.

From my point of view, Google has been excellent at providing transactional services, but are not proven creators of destinations. Their desire to control how I use what they provide will end up cutting out certain users.

I'll keep using them until they catch and execute me, but I'm never going to dive so deep that I can't get out if they boot me.
posted by Mad_Carew at 11:54 AM on August 26, 2011


I suspect this requirement is primarily to allow combining multiple databases, for advertising purposes, because there's $profit$ to be made.

Say you used a different email address to register at a variety of blogs. Say the advertisers haven't been able to definitely link the files on those various personas by comparing IP addresses, or typing rate, keyboard style, or choice of words, so they're not sure they all are data on aspects of the same customer.

That's a terrible limitation on their precision in targeting ads at your online appearances.

Heck, it probably interferes with selling the profiling information to the people who want to know your movements.

After all, think of the potential -- knowing when you're at home, when you're on at work, when you're out of town, and when you're being naughty versus when you're being nice. Santa Claus would pay well to know all about every move you make so he can leave your presents under the tree without being caught in your house. Duh.

I suspect Google has a secret unpublished coda to their famous motto:

"Don't do evil until you have control over the entire resource."
posted by hank at 11:55 AM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


The close integration of Gmail and Google+ already sort of made me uncomfortable. Like, if I had to have my email inbox open to look at facebook, would I? Hell no. I don't need Google+, and I'd rather not have to worry about my email. Bye, G+.
posted by rusty at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Whoever started spelling this issue 'nym' needs to be drug out into the street and shot.
posted by item at 11:57 AM on August 26, 2011 [26 favorites]


(Amusingly, I didn't realize until just this second that technically "Rusty" is a pseudonym. I had been thinking that I was perfectly safe, but actually, who knows.)
posted by rusty at 11:58 AM on August 26, 2011


I've had a Gmail account for 6 years or so now, and I've always used my three initials there. When I got my Google+ invite a couple weeks ago and set it up, it occurred to me I'd heard people here on Mefi mentioning that they were being strict about the proper name thing, but I didn't bother changing it ... I am curious to see where the initials sit in their 'policy'.
posted by mannequito at 12:00 PM on August 26, 2011


My wife created a gmail account for our dog, and then a google+ account, and she posts pics and such for the few people who care. There's no personal info on there at all, and the name is ridiculous, so...
posted by Huck500 at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


There seems to be an issue for two classes of people — those who wish to protect their anonymity, and those who are trying to use Google+ push a brand. The former can just use any pseudonym they want that seems like a real name with no problem at all. It's the latter who are kicking up a fuss and it's disingenuous and self-serving of them to conflate the two cases.

What? Wanting to use the name(s) I've been going by online for 10+ years is not "pushing a brand". The vast majority of my internet friends do not know my real name, nor do I want them to. Inventing "any pseudonym I want that seems like a real name" would work to "protect my anonymity", sure, but it's counter-productive to do so on a social networking site, because it's not going to help people find me -- they know me as vorfeed, not as Jane Smith. And since Jane Smith is just as much of a pseudonym as vorfeed, I'd still be in violation of Google's TOS.

Besides, having to invent a single name-like pseudonym introduces a very obvious problem: people in Circle A are just one game of six-degrees-of-separation from finding out that I belong to Circle B, and vice-versa. Many people use different pseuds for different areas of their online activity (as Google well knows, since they provide functionality to allow for this in Gmail), yet this is explicitly disallowed with Google+. As far as I'm concerned, there's no useful way to protect one's anonymity so long as multiple accounts aren't permitted.

I think it's pretty disingenuous to conflate all this with "pushing a brand". Most people who are upset just want to be able to use the identity they've always used, and are probably currently using in Google's other products.
posted by vorfeed at 12:01 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


or, alternatively, if I were to use something like my mom's maiden name as my last name..
posted by mannequito at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2011


Interesting piece about Gchat: Chathexis
posted by homunculus at 12:02 PM on August 26, 2011


I don't facebook, don't tweet, don't engage with any of that end of netlife (much as I probably should), but I signed up to gmail before I realised how google was becoming skynet and though 'eh, they already know my entire life, this google+ thing might be the time to get my feet wet'. But this 'real'-name-only business is total fucking bullshit, and is the reason I will never join in google plus, and am now in the no-fun process of extracting myself from gmail too. Disappointing, and a very poor show.
posted by robself at 12:04 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


As was already mentioned, the gmail lockout thing is FUD. You will not lose access to your GMail account even if you create a Googe Profile under the name "Fuck You Google".

You don't need a Google Profile to use GMail, nor can your Google Profile cause you to lose access to GMail.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:10 PM on August 26, 2011


There seems to be an issue for two classes of people — those who wish to protect their anonymity, and those who are trying to use Google+ push a brand. The former can just use any pseudonym they want that seems like a real name with no problem at all.

Is "muddgirl" a brand? If I have been known as muddgirl online since 2003, is it net-neutral for me to pick a different pseydonym that sounds like a real name?
posted by muddgirl at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2011


I think that this Gizmodo piece was actually fairly insightful regarding the "Google you said don't be evil WTF" crowd. (tl/dr: Google said it wouldn't be evil towards users, not that it wouldn't use competetive business tactics)

That said, to me the same logic applied to the pseudonym debate leaves Google's current policy not making sense. For all the reasons listed above, not allowing fake names demonstrably damages the user experience of Google+.

Either they decided alienating a minority wouldn't matter if it pleased the majority by blocking spammers, or this is an example of Google ignoring its own playbook.
posted by Wretch729 at 12:13 PM on August 26, 2011


I don't know what FUD is.
posted by ThatCanadianGirl at 12:14 PM on August 26, 2011


Here's a doc on what services are affected by Google Profile name policies.

Buzz, Reader, Picasa, and Plus.
_Not_ Gmail, YouTube, GTalk, etc.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:15 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


FUD = Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2011


not sure definition is being used here
posted by goethean at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2011


^which definition
posted by goethean at 12:16 PM on August 26, 2011


Like vorfeed, my primary desire to use quin has little to do with anonymity (though that is an element) and more to do with the fact that I've been 'quin' on the internet for more than a decade and a half. Hell, there are people with driver's licenses today who've had their legal names for less time than I've been using this nic.

If I were to start suddenly using my real name, most people wouldn't even realize that it was me. That's not about my brand, as I'm not selling anything. It's just about what everyone knows me as.

I'm sure I'll eventually cave and switch over to some form of FirstInitial "quin" LastName or something, but it really bothers me that I have to. Google has been great about letting me use their services as best suit me, and this really rubs me the wrong way.

I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for people who have serious reasons to not want to by known by their real names.

Google is making a mistake here, and no matter how hard they dig in their heels, that isn't going to change.
posted by quin at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay open, Google.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I think the danah boyd article above brings up a very good point: "the 'real names' policy hurts women in particular". Using a female-sounding "real name" can bring with it a certain amount of harassment, but using a male-sounding "real name" reinforces the idea that the "proper" gender is male. The lack of neutral "real" names is a problem in and of itself.
posted by vorfeed at 12:22 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I can't imagine how frustrating it must be for people who have serious reasons to not want to by known by their real names.

It means the net gets smaller every day, for me at least. There are major portions of the net now where I can't participate under my own name, and have no option, under the terms of service, but to do so. The end result is that I don't participate at all.
posted by bonehead at 12:28 PM on August 26, 2011 [14 favorites]


"Nobody is forcing anybody to play in Google's sandbox."

Except that Google really wants you to use nothing but its services and gears its business moves to increasing its usage rate as much as possible. Google would love nothing more than to have G+ be the only social network in use by all people (as would Facebook, et al. Google is not alone in this).

If Google's goal of dominating its markets comes to fruition, then you do not really have to option to go outside of their sandbox do you?
posted by oddman at 12:29 PM on August 26, 2011


To everyone who's pointed out that gmail is not affected by Google+ suspension:

You're right, the current, stated policy says that gmail is not affected, so hopefully a mod can change "gmail" to "Picasa" in my original post. I said gmail because several of the first reports I had seen from suspended users had said that they also lost gmail access, so maybe now Google has actually stated their policy they've also amended it to not affect gmail, or maybe those suspended users were just confused.

And thank you, wpenman, for linking to my.nameis.me, which was what pushed me to write this mefi post in the first place, but that I accidentally left out when I got all caught up in tracking down and posting all the other links. :(
posted by luvcraft at 12:33 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


I can't find the link now, but if I'm not mistaken Google won't allow initials either. As in "e. e. cummings" would be out of luck on G+
posted by oddman at 12:34 PM on August 26, 2011


My real name is John+ Smith+. I hope I don't get banned :(
posted by panaceanot at 12:37 PM on August 26, 2011


If Google's goal of dominating its markets comes to fruition, then you do not really have to option to go outside of their sandbox do you?

Didn't we have that same concern about AOL in 1999? Hell, people had the same concern about Facebook 90 days ago. Google+ seems to have calmed the fears that this is Facebook's world , and we all just play in it. And something will come along to counter-act Google too. People are already (rightfully so) getting concerned about the amount of data that Google is amassing on us. And I doubt they really need your real name to connect the dots in their databases.

I'm concerned about Google's business practices too, and have been giving considerable thought to taking all my mail back to my own server, as a start anyway.
posted by COD at 12:37 PM on August 26, 2011


"Nobody is forcing anybody to play in Google's sandbox."

Absolutely true, but "everyone" else is making the same decisions. I'd hoped that Google could have found a compromise that worked. Facebook certainly won't. I doubt Yahoo, MS or Apple with even try to bother.

It's a mere annoyance for me really. It just means that participating in on-line fora with a certain freedom of experssion is off limits. Under my real name I can have a limited, proscribed, set of activities that will stay under the radar. I don't have any public profile except in a the narrowest of senses.

It's even more limiting for some others I know however. I have a cousin who was the chief public health official in one of the largest east-coast cities in the US. It hasn't been possible for her to have any public presence at all (save her official one) for more than a decade. This sort of thing banishes her from the net entirely.
posted by bonehead at 12:38 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


Also wanted to point out that Vic [Gundotra] has said repeatedly that the policy is not final. Keep in mind that Google+ is not even out of the invite-only trial phase.

That's not to say anything will definitely change, but the policy as-is is officially not final or set in stone.
posted by wildcrdj at 12:45 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


The claim that being locked out of Google+ causes you to lose access to all your Google services is completely false.

The broader claim, that I have seen in a number of places, is that opting into and then out of Google+ caused a number of your other google-related services to just forget about you - your feeds, your history, your subscriptions, a lot of that stuff also disappears. People I trust have had that happen to them.

Furthermore: Google's verification process is dysfunctional, arbitrary garbage - any jackass can report your profile as fraudulent, and the process for asserting it's not is trivially gamed and that even if you pass that test, and do everything they tell you to do, you can still get blocked arbitrarily, again, anyway.

It is a bad system being enforced for dumb reasons, and it's utterly unlike Google. They did a fast 180 when they screwed up Buzz, one of the fastest turnarounds I've ever seen a company do, and for all the right reasons. That they're taking the hard-line approach with G+, in the tone-deaf way they are, is incomprehensible.
posted by mhoye at 12:45 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Whoever started spelling this issue 'nym' needs to be drug out into the street and shot.

It's a perfectly fine shorthand. Nobody who's paying attention thinks we're talking about homonyms, antonyms or The Secret Of Nimh.
posted by mhoye at 12:47 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I came here to mention the Rats of NIMH, but it looks like mhoye got here first.
posted by b1tr0t at 12:50 PM on August 26, 2011


I was going to use a Secret of Nimh reference for the post title, but couldn't think of a good one.
posted by luvcraft at 12:51 PM on August 26, 2011


I would not be pleased to receive a phone call from the internet.

Well, two things - first, I think that's pretty great that you can use a phone as an alternative authentication token in case your account is compromised. It's unlikely that your phone is likewise compromised, you know? Good to have both.

Second: TekSavvy, an ISP here in Canada, their caller ID just says "INTERNET". Which I'll tell you from personal experience is neat and all, but if you're in the middle of a conversation about /b/ and other dark corners of the web and you get a phone call that just says INTERNET on it, that kind of freaks you out a little bit.
posted by mhoye at 12:52 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


something will come along to counter-act Google too...

I remain excited by the possibility of diaspora.
posted by spindle at 12:57 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


As a friend of Doc Popular's (I don't know his real name and I don't care), Slim's and tons of other people who have their own handles I'm deeply annoyed by Google's policy. Aaron Muszalski's parents gave him a name at birth and told the government as such, as he grew older decided to mold his own persona and now goes by Slim. If Google really wanted to connect people with 'friends' they should allow it on the terms in which a person wants interface with the world, not the one the government prefers when boarding planes and opening bank accounts.

But that isn't what this is about bring people 'together', it about Google compiling clean data that marketers and advertisers can cross-reference against other databases. Calling yourself Doctor Popular makes is hard to find out if you might be persuaded to enjoy an RC Cola.

I cancelled my account, and told them to take their pseudonym policy and shove it.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 12:59 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


> I remain excited by the possibility of diaspora.

spindle I looked at that when I signed up for g+ and it was referenced invite only. I see now you can give them your e-mail and they will put you on a list to get invited when they "go beta".

Are you already in there or did you just sign up for a promised invite at some unspecified date?
posted by bukvich at 1:05 PM on August 26, 2011


My google plus is my real name just like my gmail account. I'm lucky my name isn't common. If your name is Mike Smith or Kim Jackson or something else really common are they letting you be MikeSmith1975? Or can there be duplicate names on G= as long as teh email addresses are different?
posted by pointystick at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2011


memail me for diaspora invites
posted by LogicalDash at 1:11 PM on August 26, 2011


G+ not G=
oops
posted by pointystick at 1:12 PM on August 26, 2011


I'm having difficulty passing a Type 4 on the Bristol scale about this. I've been known in RL and online pseudonymously for about 30 years. Since it's usually trivially easy to link most people's online persona and their real one, why hide it? The only people I'm possibly blocking by using a real name are other Stewart Russells (and we are legion) from nabbing theirs online first.

The best argument in support of pseudonyms comes across as all "but ... but ... but!" to me. It seems to me that they want to protect the very few, which in these days of entitlement, of course includes themselves.
posted by scruss at 1:12 PM on August 26, 2011


I was an alpha tester for Diaspora. They really haven't delivered a whole lot, yet. Granted, it's a couple of guys versus the programming empires of Facebook and Google+, but I think their window of opportunity may have passed. I remain hopefully that someday I'll be able to self host my social network type content and syndicate it out as I want, but I'm not excited about anything I see out there right now.
posted by COD at 1:12 PM on August 26, 2011


I've said it elsewhere, but I'd be perfectly happy to give Google my real name -- and any other information about me -- if they didn't pass it on to other people.

G+ will never be a keeper for me if a "real" and consistent name is a requirement; it's not compatible with how I use the internet.
posted by Drexen at 1:13 PM on August 26, 2011


I don't mind a "use a name that at least looks like a name or something" kind of thing, but government ID? Seriously? And then to shut down all of your other services if you violate the policy, including access to vital things like email?

That's what makes it sound like madness. Not that I'm so committed to pseudonyms, but the response just seems completely out of proportion to any possible problem they'd cause.
posted by gracedissolved at 1:13 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Are you already in there or did you just sign up for a promised invite at some unspecified date?

no, I'm not on diaspora. I've just heard about them and I really like what they're trying to do. if there is anyone who can say more I, for one, would appreciate the derail.
posted by spindle at 1:18 PM on August 26, 2011


Whoever started spelling this issue 'nym' needs to be drug out into the street and shot.

Dragged.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:20 PM on August 26, 2011 [10 favorites]


Among other things, I think it's pretty snaky to use the launch of a new product (G+) to change the rules for older ones people had been using for a while (Reader, Picasa, Buzz). I understand that's b/c of shiny new intertwingling of all of the above, but it's still pretty bogus.

I also never understand the "you don't have to use it" people. Even assuming good intentions on behalf of everyone involved, how are organizations with immense & disparate user bases going to find out they've made a mistake w/out a whole bunch of people complaining?

I used to work for eBay, and while we (the employees at the time) might occasionally have rolled our eyes at particular complaints the community was all het up about (and the community was always het up about something), we still viewed the existence of a vocal community as a huge asset for the company. I would hope G feels similarly.
posted by feckless at 1:21 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Nobody is forcing anybody to play in Google's sandbox.

Nobody is forcing anybody to play in Facebook's sandbox, either, and yet by choosing to delete my account there I have cut myself off from just about all the pictures and updates my family members post. Almost everyone is on Facebook, so that's how people keep up to date; I'm the odd one out so I can't really demand that everyone go to extra effort just for me.

The problem is not what Google+ is today, but what it might become if it reaches that level of saturation.

I understand that's b/c of shiny new intertwingling of all of the above, but it's still pretty bogus.

Google pulled the same crap on me ages ago with googletalk. I thought it was cool, signed up, used it to chat for a while. Then I noticed a weird problem where people kept saying they had sent me email which I never received. Huh? Eventually I figured it out: Google had silently created a gmail account for me based on my googletalk account, and then added it to the address books of all the people I was chatting with, so when they went to send me email it went to this bogus gmail account instead of my real one. I had to figure out how to log in to this fake account just so I could set it up to forward to my real account!
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:26 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


The "nymwars" rage on.

Yes, at first glance I thought it as MYNwars and thought "Is like clone wars, but full of Jessamyns?!"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 1:27 PM on August 26, 2011


Google is shooting themselves in the foot with this policy IMHO. Their first audience is techies and early adopters. And a hell of a lot of those are known by a pseudonym they've been using for years - net culture pretty much expects you to pick a handle.

I mean, the fact that "CmdrTaco stepped down from running Slashdot" has been going around as a news item yesterday and today. Not the fact that "Rob Malda stepped down from running Slashdot".

Google got big points initially for realizing that people want to present different faces to different groups of people, and building G+ around that concept. Which makes this current stance of "REAL NAMES ONLY!!!" even more shocking - because part of presenting different faces is having different names.
posted by egypturnash at 1:46 PM on August 26, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think Google has some reasonable goals with the name policy; they're trying to prevent spammers and stupid stuff.

The idea that this is going to cut spam down is ridiculous. If you buy that, I've got a fortune in Nigeria you might be interested in.

Calling yourself Doctor Popular makes is hard to find out if you might be persuaded to enjoy an RC Cola.

I think a lot of people are confusing anonymity and pseudonymity. Doctor Popular is a persistent pseudonym. It's no harder to find out what he's interested in if he's logged in under that rather than his 'real' name. In fact, it's easier because that's how people refer to him on the internet (and in person often as not--see the now-ironic picture at the bottom of this post.)

Google got big points initially for realizing that people want to present different faces to different groups of people, and building G+ around that concept.

I think they were surprised that one of those groups was Google itself. And I thought they were the smart kids.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 1:56 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best argument in support of pseudonyms comes across as all "but ... but ... but!" to me. It seems to me that they want to protect the very few, which in these days of entitlement, of course includes themselves.

Feel free to explain how flat-out refusing to "protect the very few" -- at no cost to yourself or anyone else, as it's not like pseudonym-supporters are going to keep you from using your real name if you choose to -- doesn't reek of the worst sort of "entitlement".
posted by vorfeed at 2:01 PM on August 26, 2011 [9 favorites]


I use my real name on g+ and don't really have a problem with it, but would much prefer to use this cool new pseudonym I thought up recently for google-related activities.

I'm sure this has been covered somewhere, but I am at a loss as to why they can't just tie a pseudonym to a (necessary) real name and have that real name hidden unless you want it on your public profile - kinda like Metafilter. has our payment details but doesn't disclose them.
posted by Sparx at 2:06 PM on August 26, 2011


I find it instructive to note that there are many people using their real names who argue for the right for others to use pseudonyms, but damn few pseudo users arguing the opposite.

It is a classic case of privilege.

In other words, "their rule in its magnificent equality forbids both the 'out' and the stalked/abused/whistleblower/bullied/rebel/shy alike from using a false name*".

* unless they think you are awesome.

fuck that shit
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:10 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hah! Clicked on the first link and got "Twitter is over capacity." You can say that again.

Also, Another downside to using real names reminds me of this (self link).
posted by Mental Wimp at 2:15 PM on August 26, 2011


Fuck it, I just changed the name on my Google profile from "Margaret Trauth" (my legal name, thanks to me paying the court system to change it from the one I had before gender transition) to "Egypt Urnash" (the name I've been using on most of the internet for about a decade, and have been published under).

Sadly, there is not a "report this profile" button available when you visit your own profile, or I'd consider reporting myself to make a point.
posted by egypturnash at 2:16 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


TekSavvy, an ISP here in Canada, their caller ID just says "INTERNET".

You just reminded me of a temp job I had in Exeter between finishing my master's and starting my PhD. I worked phone support for a small ISP that sold DSL access mostly in Yorkshire and in parts of London. I called an elderly client back once about a problem he'd been having, and got his wife. She said she'd get him, and then put the phone down. The next sentence I heard her yell in the background made my year:

"It's an American boy! He's from the INTERNET!"
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:24 PM on August 26, 2011 [8 favorites]


I don't mind a "use a name that at least looks like a name or something" kind of thing, but government ID? Seriously? And then to shut down all of your other services if you violate the policy, including access to vital things like email?

From introp's link to a post by Google employee Bradley Horowitz:
MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.

When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won't be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you'll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on. (Of course there are other Google-wide policies (e.g. egregious spamming, illegal activity, etc) that do apply to all Google products, and violations of these policies could in fact lead to a Google-wide suspension.)
posted by John Cohen at 2:25 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


The best argument in support of pseudonyms comes across as all "but ... but ... but!" to me. It seems to me that they want to protect the very few, which in these days of entitlement, of course includes themselves.
Yeah, god forbid we should fuck over "the very few". When you have a name like "Stewart Russell" then your real name pretty much is anonymous. No one who knows your name will know who "you" are from your name. But for a lot of people their name is a lot more unique, and can be used to find the exact person they are.

Frankly your comment is kind of obnoxious. You don't have the same issue with your name that lots of other people do and having more and more sites and services cut off from everyone who doesn't want to use their real name (and doesn't have a name that's practically anonymous anyway)

Your attitude is basically "this doesn't affect me, so fuck you". And calling it "entitlement"? Really? As if the problem with the world is that we're too concerned about people being screwed over arbitrarily.
---

The other obnoxious thing is Google reader. Why the hell should reader get suspended if you don't use your real name on Google+? That makes no sense at all, except for the fact that Google probably wants to integrate reader and + more. But I don't use Google reader as anything other then a reader. I don't communicate with anyone through it.

It's completely ridiculous for Google to come up with a new product, create new rules without making it clear to people and then ban people from old services if they don't abide by the new rules (no one reads EULAs and hardly anyone ever has a problem because of breaking the rules in them)
posted by delmoi at 2:36 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


I really can't do much more than shake my head at Google.

About a billion years ago, I worked on Google Answers. Nyms were REQUIRED, and if you used any self-identifying information that might clue customers in to who you actually were, you'd lose your Researcher status. Quite an about face they've made.
posted by MissySedai at 2:51 PM on August 26, 2011 [5 favorites]


It is perfectly rational for Google to support anonymity on the Internet, but not within their own services.

As Google isn't a two-bit player though, their decisions affect how a significant part of users interacts with the net.
posted by ersatz at 2:51 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


oddman, initials are allowed. Lots of people on G+ use an initial for their first name, last name, or both. People have even gotten their accounts un-suspended by switching from a pseudonym to their initials.
posted by shponglespore at 3:20 PM on August 26, 2011


Is the related somehow to Gmail recently asking me for a telephone number? That struck me as very odd.

That's to help you regain access to your account if your password is compromised. They want to be able to text you. More info here.


There are ways to get around that. In my experience, you only get asked for a phone number if your attempted Gmail id is what their system considers to be too "common".

Generally, I've found that the more random the arrangement of letters (or letters+numbers) seems (e.g., not a recognizable word or acronym), the less likely it is to get asked for a phone number. I think it's mostly an attempt to block spammers.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:41 PM on August 26, 2011


I think a lot of people are confusing anonymity and pseudonymity. Doctor Popular is a persistent pseudonym. It's no harder to find out what he's interested in if he's logged in under that rather than his 'real' name.

Of course, but Google wants to be able to share its user info to marketers. These people can't correlate Doctor Populars with info entered on checkout page. They need the Brian Roberts, they need the name on your credit card, your bank statement, your government ID. The need to show their boss how clever they are showing how they can track and advertise to potential customers holistically. And Google isn't going to let some guy's Burner name get in the way of delivering on that.

If you think this is about anything but maximizing Google's return on +, you'd be wrong.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 3:58 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


fuse theorem writes "There are ways to get around that. In my experience, you only get asked for a phone number if your attempted Gmail id is what their system considers to be too 'common'. "

No, they've been pushing it at legacy users with uncommon IDs too. Every three months or so when I log into gmail to check the spam folders google asks me for a phone number.
posted by Mitheral at 4:12 PM on August 26, 2011


Of course, but Google wants to be able to share its user info to marketers.

I don't think that's it. At least not entirely. The name you present doesn't, as they acknowledge, have to be exactly like one on your credit card. They don't even give a place for a middle name/initial.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:16 PM on August 26, 2011


The name you present doesn't, as they acknowledge, have to be exactly like one on your credit card. They don't even give a place for a middle name/initial.

Yeah, but if you get called on it you have to show a government ID to get your account reactivated. So if you go by "Jay Roberts" but your name is actual "Johnathan Roberts" or something then potentially you're screwed.

So it's a particularly annoying Kafkaesque twist. The rules say you can "use the name your friends call you" but you can get banned for doing so because the rules for 'proving' your name can't be used to prove what your friends call you.
posted by delmoi at 4:37 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I believe this decision on Google's part to be a matter of branding. People who are not internet-native associate fanciful handles with dishonesty and MySpace.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:42 PM on August 26, 2011


Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won't be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile,

Every last one of those services that supposedly "require a Google+ profile" antedate Google+ by years, prima facie evidence that they don't "require" anything of the sort. As far as I can tell this is not much more than a disingenuous attempt at covering for some arbitrary and occasionally punitive implementation issues.

That, among other things, is part of why this is all so weird. This is Google. On the technical as well as the moral side, they are supposed to be better than that.
posted by mhoye at 4:44 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


When G+ objected to the name I'd used on Blogger for 4 years (instant block, no warning, no response), and it became clear how they were arbitrarily and capriciously trying to re-engineer how people use the web, I decided I'd had enough.

I terminated not only G+ but the blog, Gmail, Reader and all other services by simply block-deleting the whole account. I now filter (Ghostery, NoScript, etc.) all Google trackers I can find. I search at Bing and DDG. Because? fuck them.

Side note: they claim to be interested in 'data liberation' but the 'Atom' download of 'my' blog had a Google tracker attached to every post ... hundreds of them.
posted by Twang at 4:49 PM on August 26, 2011 [11 favorites]


Now, it is possible to get entirely banned from Google services by Doing the Wrong Thing (and the famous account Guardian reporter account ban is one of those; see: posting things considered kiddie porn), but that's another story entirely.

introp, can you link to something about grrlscientist being suspended for posting kiddie porn? Because I can't find anything about that, and it seems like a pretty heavy/nasty accusation. (Here's her Guardian post about losing all services after being suspended from Google+ for those who haven't seen it.)

At any rate, the policy that they do currently admit to (suspending Picasa, Google Reader, whatever along with your Google+ account) seems like a great way to discourage people from using those services at all. Who wants to risk losing all their photo uploads or anything else they've put time and effort into collating/posting.

I haven't used Picasa, and certainly won't be starting (if you've made, say, blog posts featuring your Picasa images, and your Google+ account is suspended, do those photos disappear from your posts? Or are you just locked out of adding/deleting/managing your photos?)

I keep hoping to hear some encouraging news from Google about the names issue before I delete my personal G+ permanently. (I may make one just for business use later, since client-type people often need help/advice with social media stuff.)

As it is, using Google Plus for me is a pain, because I know almost all the people I want to follow or interact with by their (usually) pseudonymous internet names, so some people will add me, and I don't know if I know them or not if they don't have their internet identity information in their profile, plus if I see an intriguing post or comment from someone, again, I have to check their profile to see if I can figure out who the hell they are. And obviously, other people I'd like to interact with aren't there because of the real names policy, and they aren't willing to risk their safety or jobs in order to participate on a social networking site.

And, ultimately, I still don't understand how this will keep spammers/trollers from doing their thing. Just because someone calls himself Fred Jones instead of BerzerkerGriefTroll or BuyViagraOnline doesn't mean a) that Fred Jones is the user's real name, or b) that Fred Jones is a good-faith user. It just means that he won't be noticed by Google until people begin making complaints. After which Fred Jones can come back as Fred Smith.

If anything, the real names policy will encourage abuse in some ways. If Fred Smith adds you to his circles, you may add him back, thinking he's someone you must know online by a different name. This will be especially true if he targets a community by adding all the people he can from X community, because you can look at his circles info and say, hmm, I guess I know him from X community.
posted by taz at 5:02 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


Of course, but Google wants to be able to share its user info to marketers.

Well, but Google doesn't do that. It allows advertisers to target customers based on their info (through Adwords, etc). It does not release that data out to other entities. There is a difference, although obviously some people may not like either option.

(In other words, advertisers can say "I want to target everyone who does X, Y, and Z", but they don't get a list of those people)
posted by wildcrdj at 5:17 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


At any rate, the policy that they do currently admit to (suspending Picasa, Google Reader, whatever along with your Google+ account) seems like a great way to discourage people from using those services at all.

Yep. I was tempted to try out Picasa and Reader, but decided not to after all this blew up.

As it is, using Google Plus for me is a pain, because I know almost all the people I want to follow or interact with by their (usually) pseudonymous internet names...

This! I have like sixty people that've added me but I can't figure out who they are. Fortunately most people don't post to G+ much...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 5:23 PM on August 26, 2011


I believe this decision on Google's part to be a matter of branding. People who are not internet-native associate fanciful handles with dishonesty and MySpace.

This is what I believe too. They want to avoid having Betty User scrolling through the "People you may know" list and coming across ..~~Dawg*420~~.. and his friend Saphhhirothe.

As a result of this, I'm not really bothering having any Internet friends on G+. Ideally I could have separate circles that couldn't see each other and saw me with whatever picture/name/etc I choose, but I don't know how likely that is.
posted by ODiV at 6:38 PM on August 26, 2011


And it's not a privacy thing for me either, but one of recognition. I added some mefighters to my G+ circles and I have no idea who any of them are when they post something (sorry!). It's pretty much useless for "people I know over the Internet" which coincidentally almost overlaps completely with "people I know who use Google Plus".

It would be awesome if Google Plus would let me rename my contacts.
posted by ODiV at 6:44 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google asks people to submit government IDs to authenticate identity now? "Papers please." That's some seriously fucked up shit right there.
posted by madamjujujive at 6:49 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


madamjujujive writes "Google asks people to submit government IDs to authenticate identity now? 'Papers please.' That's some seriously fucked up shit right there."

Scans of government IDs. Which means none of the security features work. Meaning it'd be a simple matter to generate ID showing Foo Mitheral Bar is legally allowed to drive in the Yukon Territory.
posted by Mitheral at 8:16 PM on August 26, 2011 [4 favorites]


O hai it's this again

You know, I noticed something. You don't get a lot of people defending this. What they do instead is attack the opposition (see Renoroc's 4chan comment). It's weird, like this issue is about, I don't know, keeping a certain class of person out. What that class would be, I couldn't guess. Any suggestions?

Also, I got some questions about this.

1) Sean M. Puckett, your post mentions privilege. Is this privilege on the side of those who want pseudonyms, and if so, can you please explain what you mean?

1) Some companies have people they pay to seed opinions on the internet. Is Google doing this in favor of G+ and its policies, or do there seriously exist people who will defend this without economic recompense?

2) Is there a single argument against pseudonyms that can't be abstracted to a form of the old "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" bullshit?

3) What can we do, what can I do to mitigate or combat this? I have a couple profiles and no one's doing anything about them, but that's probably because I never use them.

4) they are making you send in your fucking papers, what the canonical fuck
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 8:30 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


1, 1, 2, 3, 5
posted by Sys Rq at 8:34 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Daaaamn. That Bobby Tables kid can. not. catch. a. break.
posted by wobh at 9:16 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Daaaamn. That Bobby Tables kid can. not. catch. a. break.

I'm sure Johnny Deeper is going through similar trials right about now.
posted by Spatch at 9:40 PM on August 26, 2011


Sys Rq, I edited that post a whole bunch of times. I guess I slipped up, somewhere.

Anyway, haha aside, you wouldn't happen to have any answers to these, would you? It's just they're kind of bugging me.

It's just... All the text in favor of G+ being like this has this kind of flavor, dig? Res(s)entful, contrarian, bitter. Shades of P. J. O'Rourke just before his alcoholism really kicked in.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:31 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


But they've really shot themselves in the foot with the way they rolled it out and mismanaged the PR.

This is a trend with Google. Perhaps its time they took a cold hard look at the non engineering data driven side of business.
posted by infini at 10:48 PM on August 26, 2011 [2 favorites]


Straight up, insofar as I'm able, I'm done with google. Absolute power corrupts how much again?
posted by kaspen at 11:00 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


I keep hearing that losing your G+ won't kill your gmail, except that I also keep hearing actual people reporting that they lost access to gmail when Google killed their G+ for having the wrong name attached. It may not be policy and it may be an accident or a bug, but whatever the reason, it's making me rethink having all my mail go to gmail. I'm starting to move important mail from gmail to other accounts just in case--and I use my "real" name on G+.
posted by immlass at 11:10 PM on August 26, 2011 [1 favorite]


Okay, I finally tracked down the source of the "Kiddie Porn" comment introp made above.

∽⍟⌇⍟∽ DEOBFUSCATION HERE: ∽⍟⌇⍟∽

The Guardian reporter/blogger is not the one who had their account and all services suspended because of possible porn issues.

That was another person, and that story is here.

REPEAT: GRRLSCIENTIST ACCOUNTS NOT SUSPENDED BECAUSE OF CHILD PORN. NOT.

As far as I know, the only justification they gave her for closing all of her Google stuff down, including Gmail, was that she used her pseudonym on G+.

As far as I know, it certainly is not a myth that Google was suspending some gmail accounts based on people not using their real names in G+. As far as I know, they changed that policy and now state that they won't close gmail and other non-Google Accounts services if they close down your G+ account, but will suspend your Picasa, Google Reader, and who knows what else. I for one don't know what services they consider a part of your Google Account, and which ones are not. Calendar? I have no idea. Google Docs? I have no idea.
posted by taz at 11:52 PM on August 26, 2011 [6 favorites]


There are some strong statements here about myths and FUD, most of which tie back to statements from Google VP Bradley Horowitz.

Skud (Kirrily Robert), who is tracking a bunch of this has a good post on exactly what happens when your G+ account is suspended, as hers is, for violating the policy. From her blog:
Some people have reported losing access to all logged-in Google services including email, calendar, docs, even Android phone features. This seems to occur when an account is suspended for supposedly-more-serious Terms of Service violations, however, people like GrrlScientist have experienced this and have no reason to believe they violated anything other than the names policy.

This was claimed to be a “bug” and we were told that they would fix it.
... [ed: snipped Horowitz "Myth" quote. see above--MC]
The frequency of these incidents seems to have slowed in the last week, but some accounts in this situation have not been restored, so this is still an issue.
Y'all can choose to believe some corporate VP over some former Google employee if you choose, but I'm not as willing to say it's "FUD" or "completely false". I'd be willing to meet some of y'all in the middle if you wanted to say "not the policy" and "not the expected outcome, but it's Beta".
posted by Mad_Carew at 11:56 PM on August 26, 2011 [3 favorites]


And while I'm posting interesting links, this (different) danah boyd article goes right to my feeling that I've been told who I must be if I'm going to use G+.
posted by Mad_Carew at 12:30 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


I opened a G+ account in my Real Name. Turns out, my Real Name sounds just exactly like a made up pseudonym so Google disabled my account. I provided proof that it was my Real Name and got the account back. Everything was shiny and fun until a few days later when it was nuked for not being a real name again. I am so very uninterested in using a service to build a social life and network when it becomes clear that it will be repeatedly disabled because I've got a funky sounding name. There are 8,000+ hits for my name on google. They couldn't even be bothered to use their own service? FFS. I am not dancing for them every time they decide it sounds fake. Once was enough. I left a pissy ass note about it when I disabled, too. Haven't checked, but my nym account was still working just fine when all this went down. I'll disable it soon. Fuck Google.
posted by stoneweaver at 12:38 AM on August 27, 2011 [8 favorites]


yeah, Violet Blue had the same problem (Google Plus: Too Much Unnecessary Drama), though being an internet celebrity helped her resolve it easier than most of us could hope for.
posted by taz at 1:44 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


The only thing that reminds me I still have a g+ account is the regular notifications that some idiot social media "expert" I don't know has added me to his "circles", and there is nothing I can do to stop them from shoving their obnoxious profiles in my face.
I never go there anymore since a bunch of my contacts were deleted for having pseudonyms. I really wanted it to be a good alternative to Facebook and invited all my friends, but fuck this shit.
posted by ts;dr at 3:22 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


I still have all of my invites. I now discourage people from joining.

I wonder how this is working out for them.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 7:09 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a messed up policy, and I've no idea why they're doing it.

FWIW, I emailed one of the big bods at Google about the issue and got the following back:

Sean-thanks for your thoughtful feedback. Trust me when I say that we're very aware of these issues and are dealing with the situation as thoughtfully as we can. Thanks,

I'm willing to accept that Google are trying to do the right thing here, but I'm utterly confused as to why they don't make the discussions they're having more public. At the moment, there's a bunch of smart people making the argument for pseudonyms and absolutely nothing coming back to say - Here's the reasons we're doing it this way & these are our counterpoints.

Hopefully it'll sort itself out. Personally, I'm going to give it six months or so, and then - if they haven't either changed their policy or given good reasons for it, then I'll be out of there.

Final point: My IRL name isn't my birth name. Hasn't been since I was a baby. People call me by my middle name. If anyone flags my account up for deletion, then I'm screwed. If I ever have to use my real name on my Google account, then nobody will be able to find me.
posted by seanyboy at 7:47 AM on August 27, 2011


Actually - I may have to revise what I've said above. this is very illuminating.
posted by seanyboy at 8:05 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hum, I'm seeing many common arguments repeated that have already been hashed out elsewhere, so before anyone protests the use of the term 'privilege', demarcates Google's space as being outside of the public sphere or anything else, danah boyds posts linked to above are required reading, as is Kee Hinckley's post enumerating the arguments against pseudonyms and why, to spare you the suspense, none of them hold water, and JWZ's typically acerbic take may rile you up if you think that they do.

Rightness or wrongness aside, what strikes me is how tone-deaf Google's senior management have been. Vic Gundotra and Larry Page are definitely not stupid, so why stubbornly walk into a PR catastrophe with the one demographic (computer-literate technocrats) that normally does cheer-leading for Google come rain or shine? If you have closeted teenagers, battered spouses and oppressed minorities in one corner, how exactly is this narrative going to make you look good if you're in the other?
posted by ianso at 8:09 AM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


another link, this one quoting Eric Schmidt:
[Schmidt] replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.
and
He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.
If this is actually what was said and it reflects the company's thinking (rather than an off-the-cuff reply by an executive who doesn't really understand what his company is doing that pisses people off), then it's about "future products" and "making the internet better".

I'm not down with reason #1 and I don't agree with reason #2.
posted by Mad_Carew at 9:04 AM on August 27, 2011 [3 favorites]


See... it's not really a social networking site, it's an Identity Service! How long have we all been waiting for one of those? All these voices crying out in the internet wilderness for an Identity Service so we could sign up with our government IDs and let everyone know all our personal deets... That's all we asked – nay, begged for – and nobody, nobody would listen, nobody heard us until Google answered that anguished plea. Thank God we finally have an Identity Service. Thank God for Google.
posted by taz at 9:40 AM on August 27, 2011 [6 favorites]


Google and Facebook policies generally make much more sense when you remember that you are their product.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 11:42 AM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thank God for Google.

Hold on a moment, has anyone check God's Identity Credentials?
posted by mannequito at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2011


remember that you are their product

Which is exactly what makes this so dumb and wrongheaded on their end; without the users, they don't have a product. The head dudes are very sanguine about losing women, LGBT users, and other people who have privacy concerns – see seanyboy's link:
- "Women, LGBT, abuse victims, etc, will be disadvantaged"
Larry/Vic: "There are other places they can go to, we don't have to fight every ethical and social injustice every time in everything we do, G+ is one of the occasions when we don't seek to right the wrongs of the world, we just want to get the work done."

- "White privileged men will be denied the diversity of opinions because of the bias of Google+ toward white privileged men"
Larry/Vic: "Most of them seem to be just fine with that. Sure, most people pay lip service to diversity of opinions, but what really gets their panties in a knot is when their search results show what they consider garbage."


They've become very arrogant, and I think they are very wrong. Women are huge drivers of social media, one of the big reasons Facebook and Twitter have done so well – and having users with other interests and backgrounds adds vibrancy. Eventually, even tech guys get weary of talking only among themselves... are they going to be happy campers if it all dwindles to Slash Dotesque with circles? It'll be like the affluent white tech guy ghetto + SEO Blogarrhea types. Tasty.

So basically, in the rollout, they've told a significant percentage of their hugest fans, supporters, and early adapters that they really don't care if they use G+ or any Google services or not. Don't like it? Don't use it. This is a rather extraordinary PR approach, and not at all what built the Google empire.

For many people, As someone commented in one of the linked threads, "they've burned through 10 years of good will in one month."

So. Yes. We are their product... but only if we accept. Only if we agree to the dance. Without Google, we can struggle along, but without us, can they?
posted by taz at 1:05 PM on August 27, 2011 [9 favorites]


Just because someone calls himself Fred Jones instead of BerzerkerGriefTroll or BuyViagraOnline doesn't mean a
That's it, I'm changing my real name to Berserker Grief Troll.
But they've really shot themselves in the foot with the way they rolled it out and mismanaged the PR.
Yeah. At the very least they could have simply 'delisted' the user and gave them a warning about your name instead of banning people, and actually making their lives worse then before they tried +.

It's dumb, because not only does it alienate people that would be most helpful in promoting plus -- people who hate facebook -- it's also going to actually scare people away from even trying plus, out of fear it might screw up their other google accounts. Especially people who use google services for lots of other things.

If all this 'nym war' stuff had started before I got in, I might have hesitated to join.

Violet blue says the same thing here:
Too much risk for a social network
So now I faced losing business services I not only used, but depend on as cornerstones for my livelihood.
That's right. The banning of accounts tied to G+ means that signing up for it carries the risk that you might fuck up your life if you use Gmail or docs. It's just a moronic policy.

Honestly, if I have to use my real name and all this crap I might as well just stick with Facebook. At least FB has dorky flash games to play. I think the G+ UI is way better then FB currently but I'm sure they'll adapt.

---

Speaking of google reader, it's not that great. I had been using an offline reader, but it took up a surprising amount of disk space, and didn't use it in a very sensible way (so the file get huge and the app would slow down). I switched to Google Reader and it's worked a lot better, but you have no control over how many articles get cached. More popular blogs get larger archives. You can 'tag' things, but tags and folders work the same way in the UI so if you use a lot of tags, the list of 'folders' becomes huge, and practically unuseable.

You can share items within reader, but it's not well integrated -- or integrated at all with other services. In fact, the only sharing you can do is with Buzz, believe it or not. Things don't even show up in G+ except under the Buzz tab. So either trying to keep things in the google sandbox (and being lazy about sending things to plus rather then buzz) or they're just lazy overall.
posted by delmoi at 2:06 PM on August 27, 2011


I think that this Gizmodo piece was actually fairly insightful regarding the "Google you said don't be evil WTF" crowd. (tl/dr: Google said it wouldn't be evil towards users, not that it wouldn't use competetive business tactics)

A lot of people forget that Google is in essence an advertising service. As such, Google's customers are their advertisers. The users are the product.

And I have no plans to ever use Google+.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:41 PM on August 27, 2011


Using a female-sounding "real name" can bring with it a certain amount of harassment, but using a male-sounding "real name" reinforces the idea that the "proper" gender is male. The lack of neutral "real" names is a problem in and of itself.

Well, there's Pat, Cary, Casey, Morgan, Taylor, and of course, Hank.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:51 PM on August 27, 2011 [1 favorite]


He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

Stuff like this blows my mind. It should go without saying that there aren't any actual "dogs" or "fake people" on the internet -- this is simply code for people Google doesn't like (and describes as "just evil"). I'm not the biggest fan of spammers or griefers, myself, but the fact is that they are real people, doing things that real people have pretty much always done on the internet. Google's ideal vision of the net seems to be a walled garden where your rights are solely determined by how much Google likes you, and that's a real problem... especially since we're seeing more and more cases in which "real people" get mis-labeled as "just evil", and lose access to their real-people work as a result.

I won't even start with "there are other places [women, abuse victims, LGBT] can go to". Any service which writes off over half the population first-thing is trying to define a new population rather than serving the one which already exists... and for those of us who actually like the internet, "evil" and all, that's pretty much the opposite of a selling point.
posted by vorfeed at 3:14 PM on August 27, 2011 [5 favorites]


krinklyfig writes "Well, there's Pat, Cary, Casey, Morgan, Taylor, and of course, Hank."

And Stacy, Kim, Charlie, Riley and Sue.
posted by Mitheral at 3:47 PM on August 27, 2011


He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person.

Any network that would exclude Sockington isn't worth being on.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 4:19 PM on August 27, 2011


Soulja Boy is on Google+... I'm pretty sure that's not his real name. So you can have a nym, if you are a celebrity.

I fail to see the reason that individuals can't use nyms. Google doesn't sell personally identifying info to advertisers, so having a real name doesn't help them there. Spammers can create fake names, and are more likely willing to do so then individuals who keep a single nym as an identity.

There is also the issue of individuals with real names, or names they use IRL that don't correspond to their policy. I've met tons of people from asia, for example, that adopt an english name to go by in the US, for one example. Should the go by the name on a government ID that may not even be in english, and which friends and coworkers won't recognize?

Ultimately, I think political pressure can be put on Google to change Google+... and should be. If Google wishes to have an identity service, it needs to acknowledge that identity is a dynamic process which includes individual self definition. But if it doesn't, well at least they made the data easy to export to the service that actually gets it.
posted by gryftir at 5:22 PM on August 27, 2011 [2 favorites]


LogicalDash: "memail me for diaspora invite"

me too.
posted by bleary at 5:46 PM on August 27, 2011


LogicalDash: "memail me for diaspora invite"

Stupid me hitting post too soon. I meant to say that people can memail for diaspora invites as well.
posted by bleary at 5:47 PM on August 27, 2011


The thing is that spammers et al are using weird Anglo names as you'll find on twitter and highly not likely to call themselves by a bunch of odd handles
posted by infini at 6:20 PM on August 27, 2011


G+ objected to the name I'd used on Blogger for 4 years (instant block, no warning, no response), and it became clear how they were arbitrarily and capriciously trying to re-engineer how people use the web

Great interview here:

"With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches," [Google CEO Eric Schmidt] said. "We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it."
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:09 AM on August 28, 2011


"We don't need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about... We can look at bad behavior and modify it."

Sure, they pick up the body's electrical signature via a gps satellite and position you on google earth.
posted by infini at 2:45 AM on August 28, 2011


That's true, that interview could have been Schmidt just going off the reservation. His real bosses did demote him, after all—perhaps it was the obvious conflict between Schmidt's creepy we-know-everything-about-you comments and the more happy, friendly image that Page and Brin want to market.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:11 AM on August 28, 2011


The Schmidt interview where he talks about it being an identity service made a lot more sense to me when it occurred to me that the "social network" Google+ was aimed at could be LinkedIn and not Facebook. There's a crapload of money to be had in job-search-related activities (mostly on the corporate side, but not all) and the thing people pay for on Facebook is Farmville.
posted by immlass at 6:18 AM on August 28, 2011


There's a crapload of money to be had in job-search-related activities (mostly on the corporate side, but not all) and the thing people pay for on Facebook is Farmville.

I have a Facebook account but these days don't log in much, and I've blocked Farmville so maybe I'm out of the loop here ... People pay for Farmville now? Really? It was free the last time I saw it, even though it is concentrated evil with tentacles.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:56 AM on August 28, 2011


People pay for Farmville now?

My understanding is they pay for "extras". I don't play and I block the hell out of anything Farmville-related, so this is all going on media reports of what people are doing.
posted by immlass at 7:45 AM on August 28, 2011



Sure, they pick up the body's electrical signature via a gps satellite and position you on google earth.


Uh, dude? Pretty sure they're talking about the smartphones people use to post to google+.
posted by LogicalDash at 1:02 PM on August 28, 2011


Is it technologically infeasible?
posted by infini at 7:16 PM on August 28, 2011


Is it technologically infeasible?

It's been deployed for two years. It's called Google Latitude.
posted by mhoye at 5:39 PM on August 29, 2011


I know about location aware smartphones. Was wondering about gps being able to home in directly on the human electric network.
posted by infini at 7:44 PM on August 29, 2011


GPS is read only. Using GPS is just like listening to the radio. The radio station has no way of knowing you're listening. A hand-held non-connected GPS receiver doesn't send your location anywhere.

If you use a smartphone, that does send location data back to the phone opperator.
posted by delmoi at 11:47 PM on August 29, 2011


There's a crapload of money to be had in job-search-related activities (mostly on the corporate side, but not all) and the thing people pay for on Facebook is Farmville.
I bet Zynga makes more then Monster.com
posted by delmoi at 11:48 PM on August 29, 2011


Soulja Boy is on Google+... I'm pretty sure that's not his real name. So you can have a nym, if you are a celebrity.
Nope. They don't want brands or promotional things on G+ at all. Probably just hasn't been booted yet.
posted by delmoi at 11:50 PM on August 29, 2011


fuse theorem writes "There are ways to get around that. In my experience, you only get asked for a phone number if your attempted Gmail id is what their system considers to be too 'common'. "

No, they've been pushing it at legacy users with uncommon IDs too. Every three months or so when I log into gmail to check the spam folders google asks me for a phone number.


Perhaps it's also a function of how often you log into the account. I have several Gmail accounts, most of which I touch at least a couple times a month. I've never been asked for a phone number for any of them. However, I just tried a couple that I don't access regularly and Google did ask me for a phone number. But, I simply signed out of Google and then signed back in, and I didn't get asked for the phone number again.
posted by fuse theorem at 3:48 PM on August 30, 2011


say no to the meat wallet
posted by finite at 5:54 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


Google+ has suspended an Australian tech journalist who legally changed his name to the mononym of Stilgherrian about 30 years ago and has used it for everything ever since. NB: His posts have some salty language, if that's an issue for you.

Right, Google, you stupid c---, this is simply not on.
Stilgherrian vs Google, part 2
Google+ is a trojan horse (includes links to a podcast interview with Scud/Kirrily Roberts) and a followup at his own blog with further links.

It does feel like a bait-and-switch. Yay, new social service that might not suck as much as Facebook! Doh, it's actually an Identity Service and they don't want you to mess up their neat rows of data :(
posted by harriet vane at 7:09 AM on September 1, 2011 [2 favorites]


G-Male: Google delved deep into your personal life and found that something was missing. Introducing G-Male. Yes, Google has created The Perfect Male.
posted by homunculus at 4:38 PM on September 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


I just posted this at G+:

Huh. I just came across an interesting post from February, 2011 on the Google Public Policy Blog called "The Freedom to be Who You Want to Be," in which pseudonyms are addressed this way:

"Pseudonymous. Using a pseudonym has been one of the great benefits of the Internet, because it has enabled people to express themselves freely—they may be in physical danger, looking for help, or have a condition they don’t want people to know about. People in these circumstances may need a consistent identity, but one that is not linked to their offline self. You can use pseudonyms to upload videos in YouTube or post to Blogger."

I was actually looking for the initial announcements about G+, to see if it was identified as, or suggested to be an "Identity Service" anywhere. I found "Introducing the Google+ project: Real-life sharing, rethought for the web" from June 28, 2011. There's no mention of "Identity Service" there, and yet there is also no language calling it a "social network" either. It's just a "project" (6X) that's all about "sharing" (20X).

I guess Google was letting other people run with the idea of G+ as a social network instead of an Identity Service that allows you to Share your government identity/wallet ID.
posted by taz at 2:31 AM on September 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


anyway... I keep waffling about closing my account. I'm hoping that they will pull it together to address pseudonymous use in a reasonable way, though nothing in their public commentary seems to suggest that this is forthcoming.

But theoretically, I really like it, and would like to use it, if not for this one huge problem. Well, I like it for social networking. I have absolutely zero use for an Identity Service.

As it is, I'm basically just waiting to close my account myself (delaying because if they change the policy, I don't feel like re-establishing all my circles), or have them close it down for me, since I'm not actually using my wallet/government ID (which is kind of a joke anyway, since, again, I don't have only one; I have at least three).

I'm not using it much because I don't recognize most of the people in my circles, and it's tiresome to have to click through and scour their profiles to see if I can see who they are. I recognize a handful of people: the ones who use their real names online anyway; the ones who don't, but whose pseudonyms sound like real names so they haven't been Google Swatted yet; and the ones who use their pseudonyms, but Google hasn't noticed yet.
posted by taz at 2:52 AM on September 3, 2011


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