A brief aside about names and lack or multiplicity thereof

As a catchup, Google+ their first second attempt at social networking requires “real names” see section 13 however they define it as “use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you” which for many people is not the name on their ID or indeed they may have other reasons for wanting to partition up their activity online.

An interesting summary article on the whole idea is here: “Real Names” Policies Are an Abuse of Power which reminded me of this excellent article about names and programs: Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names and got me looking into this (as initially I thought it was a few more isolated incidents, it seems to be a widespread bot rampage on Google+).

In other news the EFF makes A Case for Pseudonyms as do all these people at the My namei s me project, which has some more discussion about the kinds of people who get caught out by these policies.

There are also protests being mooted: IRL on Googles Lawn and a petition aiming to suggest that the whole policy is a PITA.

Somehow I’ve managed to avoid getting grief both on Google+ (where I don’t give them my legit-name-on-ID at all) and FB (who honestly don’t seem to apply their policy unless their in a bad mood based on things I’ve done changing the names of joke/roleplaying accounts) however it would appear that G+ are being more arsey about this than I first thought from reading articles, which worries me as eventually they’ll catch up with me I guess.

What’s everyone elses thoughts?

2 thoughts on “A brief aside about names and lack or multiplicity thereof

  1. jaded_phoenix62

    Participation within any system involves (supposedly) abiding by the rules, its just that with strictly codified systems such as software and EULAs these are more obvious.
    The fact that this seems to be the most talked about point seems a good indicator that nothing too serious is amiss. And from what I hear its policies are far better than Facebook, although I haven’t done my own research.

    The fact that they are enforcing this so heavily seems a bit odd. However, Google aren’t famous for doing what people expect, but they usually do see sense and accept public opinion. (the streetview Wi-Fi thing comes to mind)

    In the scheme of things the naming policy seems almost benign, but the inherently subjective nature of identity has made it a touchy subject.

    How many people are G+ing it so far? Its been on my radar but not something I’ve pursued yet.

    1. mostlyfoo

      The thing that is strange is insisting that the “real name” is the one displayed with the account, and that additional names are merely listed in the profile, why google aren’t happy having a “legal name” and “display name” field and just defaulting these to being the same is baffling.

      And I agree they normally think they’re doing best for the world as a whole, and I wonder if they’re going to fold to public opinion with regards to this or not.

      Some are, some aren’t, I’d like it to gain momentum if only because I think having a monoculture is dangerous and gives organisations ideas above their station.


Leave a Reply