Real Name Policy
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Amid all the noise and fury over Google’s policy of requiring real names (or at least real-sounding names) on its new Google+ network — a policy that Facebook also has, and one we have been critical of in the past — it’s easy to forget that there’s a pretty large web service that doesn’t much care what your real name is. Although it does prevent you from pretending to be people you aren’t, Twitter doesn’t block or ban users for having pseudonyms the way Google and Facebook do. Why is that? I think it’s because Twitter realizes it can provide plenty of value for users (and thus for advertisers) without having to know your real name. The social web is about reputation and influence, not necessarily names.
The Avenue de l'Opéra in Paris is a respectable address, surrounded by banks, boutiques and cafés. The tenants listed on door plaques include a language school and an airline. But the name of the building's most famous tenant is not listed: Google. The global corporation values privacy -- its own privacy, at least.
Given the discussion about Facebook enabling other sites to use its comment infrastructure — and what that means for identity and anonymity in discussion — I thought I’d share some of what I’m saying about the question of multiple identities in my book . One tactic to cope with the fear of exposure and overexposure is anonymity. Anonymity has its place. It protects the speech of Chinese dissidents, Iranian protestors, and corporate whistleblowers. It allows Wikileaks to expose secrets.
Despite being blocked , Google+ still has the power to ruffle feathers here in China as news outlets have been abuzz recently concerning Google's deletion of thousands of Google+ accounts that were not using real names. As interesting as that may be, the real story here lies not in why "JrzyShoreGrrll1993" or "sher@mie:)" should keep their profiles, but rather in the numerous internet activists who have a much less stupid reason to use a pseudonym. Not only is there a tradition for using pen names on the internet to avoid being implicated for having certain views, many Chinese users in particular would perhaps rather be known as Walt among their American friends than Weihua. One Chinese activist in particular wrote on his Google+:
Facebook is taking some heat from a well-known Chinese writer and commentator for disabling his account due to the man’s using a pseudonym on his account. Michael Anti said he lost his account, and hundreds of contacts from around the world, when Facebook disabled his account due to using his professional name instead of his real name on Facebook. You see, it’s Facebook policy to use your real, government issued name on your account. However, Anti, who’s real name is Zhao Jing, claims he’s been known by his professional name for more than a decade. Even his friends call him An Ti. Anti went as far as sending his certificate from Harvard University, where he did a fellowship, to prove that his professional name is valid.
Like your daughter bringing home an ex-convict for dinner and saying that he's actually a "really good guy," Christopher "moot" Poole explained how the virtue of 4Chan--instantaneous collaborative creativity--could overshadow its darker, dirtier proclivities by gaining new life in a project called Canvas . Canvas is a modernized, re-thought message board that deals mostly in images and short comments, not text posts, and feels less like a sleazy Internet saloon than 4Chan does. Poole called 4Chan a "barebones website" that, like most forums, was built on antiquated ideas using antiquated software. Unlike older message boards, Canvas will prioritize pictures, games, social networking, and other nowadays tech instead of long text posts. The shocker: iIt's built on the Facebook API. What's Up With Facebook Integration?
As you may know, along with thousands of people around the world, my access to all of my Google services was suddenly revoked, without warning and without reason . My original appeal to reinstate my account was rejected. I have written a letter to Google appealing this second rejection. The text of this letter appears below the jump, which may help those of you who are also appealing this decision: Dear Google I am writing to appeal the deactivation of my Google account.
Christopher Poole, the founder of controversial online image board 4chan , outlined his vision for Web-based community today at the South by Southwest Interactive conference — and yes, his ideas are in pretty sharp contrast to those of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. Zuckerberg has spent a lot of time talking about his stance on identity and privacy, especially recently, as Facebook has taken more criticism for its various privacy policies. (To get the flavor of his remarks, check out VentureBeat’s post about Zuckerberg’s privacy stance from last May, as well as David Kirkpatrick’s book The Facebook Effect .) He’s been pretty aggressive ins advocating that users should have a single identity that’s consistent they are online, because that encourages them to be more authentic (and also means they can carry their social connections with them to any site).
South Korea's plan to abandon its "real-name system" for Internet users was reaffirmed after the country's worst online security breach in history. In July, personal data for about 35 million users of the popular South Korean social sites Nate and its subsidiary Cyworld were stolen in a large-scale hacking attack. The Ministry of Public Administration and Security is set to report to ruling party lawmakers about comprehensive measures to protect personal information online, including abolishing the real-name registration system, Yonhap news agency said. The real-name system, introduced in 2007, requires people to use their real names and resident registration numbers when making online postings on websites with more than 100,000 visitors per day
Over the weekend, Google annoyed numerous one-time Google+ users by blowing away their accounts because they'd broken Google's name restrictions . That went over well. As I asked at the time, “ What was Google thinking!? ” Google's senior VP of social, Vic Gundotra, explained Google's logic for insisting on real names, as an attempt to set a positive tone, "like when a restaurant doesn't allow people who aren't wearing shirts to enter."
Here's danah boyd in very good form, explaining why "Real Name" policies like the one Google has rammed down Google Plus users' throats (and like the insanely naive one that Randi Zuckerberg would like to foist on the entire Internet) are an abuse of power: Over and over again, people keep pointing to Facebook as an example where “real names” policies work. This makes me laugh hysterically.
<img src="http://www.wired.com/images_blogs/business/2011/08/google-plus-circles1.jpg" alt="" title="google-plus-circles" width="660" height="521" class="aligncenter size-full wp-image-39366" /> One of my favorite moments in Franz Kafka’s The Trial is shortly after the protagonist Josef K is placed under arrest for an unnamed offense. The men notifying him of his arrest don’t cuff him or take him to jail. They just tell him proceedings are underway and that he’ll learn everything in due course. The only thing K can think to do is present the men his identity papers, but all he can find to show them is his bicycle license: “If this is a farce, he was going to play along.”
A striking number of Google+ accounts have been deleted in the last 24 hours as the new social network struggles with its community standards policy around real names - alienating and frightening the people it aims to serve. Removed but restored through influence is Limor Fried - AKA Lady Ada / Adafruit Industries: She was recently featured on the cover of WIRED Magazine. Google suspended Limor Fried “Ladyada” Google+ profile, no show-and-tell tonight… http://adafru.it/b16793 Her account has just now been mysteriously restored, though only after a groundswell of complaints. Suffice it to say, the rest of the deleted accounts will not have such well-placed advantages. Many have now been purged and not restored.
Des réflexions sont en cours afin de permettre à chacun de ne pas être tracé dans ses moindres actes sur le Net à des fins publicitaires. Comme le note cet article , "le gouvernement a donné un préavis à Google, Microsoft, Apple et consorts, afin qu'ils donnent un moyen aux consommateurs d'empêcher les annonceurs de suivre leurs actions sur le web". Capture d'écran Google + Le fait que des réseaux sociaux comme Google + (et Facebook de façon moindre et contournable) montrent une insistance acharnée pour que chacun s'inscrive sous sa "véritable identité" ne répond pas à quelque souhait d'instiller dans notre monde des pratiques qui le rendraient plus agréable à vivre, plus "juste", plus favorable à un meilleur devenir social ou politique. Affirmer cela répond à plusieurs observations.