Google Realizing That Its Real Names Policy Is Excessive

from the about-time dept

We've been discussing for a while some of the ridiculousness behind both Facebook and Google requiring "real names" and shutting down the accounts of those who used pseudonyms. Frankly, it didn't make any sense to be so strict about it, and Google especially seemed to be at a complete loss to give any coherent reason why the real names policy made sense. And while the company defended the position for a while, it's nice to see that it appears to be planning to relax that policy with a new system that likely will allow the use of pseudonyms. While it's not yet entirely clear how this system will work, this seems like a move in the right direction, and will likely make Google+ a lot more usable by many people.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 19th, 2011 @ 11:48pm

    Maybe Google has figured out they are not getting enough data to build shadow profiles like Facebook does.

    http://yro.slashdot.org/story/11/10/18/1429223/facebook-is-building-shadow-profiles-of-non- users

     

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  2.  
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    Austin (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 12:36am

    Alternative Solution

    I'm not actually sure what problem the whole policy is supposed to solve. Presumably, this is to prevent spammers. I mean, it's not meant to prevent anonymity, because practically nothing on Google+ is really "public" anyway, and anonymity is useless in private to begin with. All I can think of here is they're trying to prevent spammers. So...here's a better way:

    - Require a random portion (roughly 20% should work) to check a box when adding you as a friend that says "I know who the person behind this account is." If at any point in time the percentage of friends who check this box drops below the required amount, the account will be unable to post more than 1 public posting per day, or to address any private posting to more than a single recipient.

    Problem solved. Now can we please, PLEASE get Google Apps support added?! I mean, that's SOOOOOO much more important than this is!

     

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  3.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 2:05am

    Re: Alternative Solution

    It seemed to grow out of the idea that Anonymity online can only lead to evil acts. Eric Schmidt of Google pretty much sums up the idea of tone deaf to the internet and privacy.

    https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2009/12/google-ceo-eric-schmidt-dismisses-privacy

    There is also the concern that Google just wanted to build better metrics for advertising.

    There was concern that a fake Lady GaGa would tell you she had been mugged in Madrid and needed you to wire her money.

    And your idea doesn't work so good for me, I don't have enough contacts as this online identity to meet your metric. I keep this identity separate from others I maintain. One would think that Google could just use their algorithm they use to filter spam email on messages.

    I think that Google+ might have shot itself in the foot with the on again off again oh wait on again you can be what other people call you policy.

     

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  4.  
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    Schmoo, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 2:10am

    The window for success against Facebook is very small. Diaspora missed it by announcing before launch - the buzz had been and gone before they had a product. G+ has missed it with this one, stupid and utterly pointless mistake - the buzz has been and gone before they removed the negative that everyone was talking about.

     

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  5.  
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    Scooters (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 3:28am

    I don't mind using my real name...

    ...but I've a problem when, one day, this is the least of my worries concerning "social" networking services who decide it's in their best interest I become more "social" by opening up my entire account to the world.

    Real name or not, until these services give me confidence they'll not "mess up", I'll keep my opinions to Scooter, ala myself.

    Here, anyway.

     

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  6.  
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    Javataur, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 6:45am

    I don't get why this is so difficult for Google. Sure, if someone wants true anonymity, its a bit of a problem, but for someone like me that doesn't care if their real name is associated with their account, why not just give me a check box that allows me to select my nick name as my display name?

     

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  7.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 7:02am

    Re: Re: Alternative Solution

    I have two accounts on gmail, one that has all my personal information, and one that doesn't. I've not received any statement from Google yet banning or removing either account even though the one that doesn't have my name is obviously a pseudonym. Not sure if I just flew under the radar or if that means that they aren't as quick to remove accounts (or if it only affects one service and not all of them.)

     

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  8.  
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    Shava Nerad, Oct 20th, 2011 @ 7:39am

    Previous discussion from the very beginning have included plans for a pseudonym system om G+, but that system was planned, it was hinted, to still require a real name on the Google Profile. Pseudonyms would live in a nicknames field, and be used at user discretion.

    Considering Google's record for leaking profile info in other services, this means anyone wanting to use a handle for casual personal/professional identity management should be very cautious. Anyone concerned about a strong correlation should avoid Google entirely.

    Until the full mechanism and policy is clarified, celebration is premature. Don't take the heat off yet - there's no real policy here. The devil is in the details - we don't know if qualifies as "don't be evil" until we see more.

     

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  9.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 1:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Alternative Solution

    Google's real name policy doesn't apply to gmail. Only to Google+.

     

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  10.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 1:02pm

    Re: Alternative Solution

    According to Schmidt, the basic purpose of the real name policy is that Google wants to become an identity service, and to do that they need to know their users actual identity. The other arguments, while I'm sure were made in good faith, were all secondary.

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with spam.

     

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  11.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 1:10pm

    Re: I don't mind using my real name...

    I do mind, personally. Using my real identity in public forums means that I would not be able to express any opinions of substance, regardless of what they are. Everything is forever on the internet, and there is a not-insignificant chance that an opinion I express now, however innocuous and well-mannered it may be, could cause me harm at some point in the future. Perhaps I'd lose out on a job because my conservative employer-to-be hates liberals (or vice versa), or has some kind of irrational beef with some forum I hang out in and that colors his opinion of me. And so forth.

    Having a pseudonym gives me room to breathe, and the ability to speak freely. It also lets me avoid being tracked quite so easily by the various entities that like to assemble dossiers on everyone.

    In the case of google, this is less of an issue as most of my pseudonyms sound like they could be real names, so google would be none the wiser. Nonetheless, google has told me,loud and clear, that they aren't interested in the likes of me, and so I am returning that favor. I don't care if they change their policy now, I will never be joining them.

     

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  12.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Re: Alternative Solution

    Google Wallet I think is what everyone is waiting for.
    Google becomes a be all end all for this is for sure the person your dealing with and the transaction is secure.

    They have these grand plans for what G+ will be in 5 years, but it is pretty much the -
    1. Announce a Platform
    2. ????????
    3. Dominate the social market.

    They are slowly folding all other Google offerings into G+ trying to force people to join. Did the concept of "Well everyone will want Buzz" being a total failure fall on deaf ears?

     

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  13.  
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    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Oct 20th, 2011 @ 3:37pm

    Re:

    Because there is
    what they need - Real names
    vs
    what they want - to not appear evil

    They wanted to be the hipper Facebook and cash in on that market, can't blame them there. The problem is you have 10 people saying 10 different things, and several really stupid things said by the people in charge of the project that make them look arrogant and uninformed about social things.

    If you want a social platform, good for you. But to randomly decide on a whim what works and what won't work from day to day hour to hour you annoy the audience.

    Remember these are the smart guys who after slamming their foot down about no nyms EVER, then created accounts for rappers stage names. Kinda stupid, well that can have it because they are special - we need entertainers to make the network more popular. Except many people don't give a fig if the network has rappers, because those accounts will be run by handlers and rarely by the "star".

    They had potential, they could have just created a nym badge to "warn" others it was a nym being used. Instead they demand your real name, got quoted saying they don't care about rape victims and others, and shot themselves in the foot again.

     

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  14.  
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    Anon4fun, Oct 21st, 2011 @ 2:57pm

    John Fenderson said: "According to Schmidt, the basic purpose of the real name policy is that Google wants to become an identity service, and to do that they need to know their users actual identity."

    An identity service which you so far have no choice to opt out of when using the G+ social network, its cleverly-disguised user interface.

    That Anonymous Coward said: "They had potential, they could have just created a nym badge to "warn" others it was a nym being used."

    Yeah this, or the equivalent if you're verified. It ain't rocket science, Google.

     

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    lrobbo (profile), Jun 8th, 2012 @ 2:20pm

    Google+ sucks so bad they had no choice but to relax things . . .

     

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  16.  
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    Name Lastname, Jul 22nd, 2013 @ 3:25pm

    I do not trust internet not even Google. My profile has been suspended because I do not use my real name on gmail. I believe it is my right to use any pseudonym on such a insecure area such internet is. It has been proven that even Google cooperate with intelligence agencies and let our data and mail them for examination. Google also trades with their users personal data. Now they are not hiding some of their methods they already started to categorizing and filtering our mailboxes publicly.

     

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