Monday, July 11, 2011

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Google Confirms: Non-Real Name Google Profiles Risk Suspension (I.E., Google Still Doesn’t Get Social)

Google profiles

UPDATE, 7/12, 2:45PM: The story continues in this post here.

If you created a Google Profile named after your avatar or another pseudonymous name, your account risks suspension. Instead, you should consider creating a Google Profile which is based on your real name, and if you like, add your avatar name and other non-real names in the About section of your profile.

Google Profile Other Name Field

To do that, click “Edit Profile” and enter those names in the designated fields, as pictured at right from my own profile, which has my SL avatar name, “Hamlet Au”, along with variations of account names I use in other gaming/virtual world/social media settings.

My advice comes after a long e-mail conversation I recently completed with Google spokesperson Katie Watson, Senior Manager of Global Communications & Public Affairs at the Internet giant. The thread began when I tried to confirm the suspension of a Second Life user who created a Google Profile with his avatar name, Opensource Obscure (see below.) However, our conversation more generally applies to anyone who’s created a Google Profiles account named after any kind of non-real, online name -- even an account name used in a Google product, such as YouTube.

For the last couple years, it’s been a mantra in Silicon Valley that “Google doesn’t get social.” The introduction of Google Profiles and its truly impressive Circles feature strongly suggested that the company had made a massive shift in corporate culture to compete with Facebook and other social networking systems. However, the fact that Google hasn’t crafted a coherent Profiles policy that’s more in line with how people actually use their identity in the digital age... well, to me that shows they are still abundantly full of Not Getting Social.

To take a single example (there are others), a Google Profiles support page says the name you use on the system should be one “that you commonly go by in daily life”-- which doesn’t acknowledge that a large amount of people commonly do go by an Internet-based, non-real account name in their daily life, and are often known to more people online by that pseudonym than they are by their real name. Hundreds of millions do this every day on YouTube, Flickr, Deviant Art, Reddit, Slashdot, Gawker, and many more systems, not to mention all the online worlds and games with naming conventions of their own.

That said, Google Plus and Profiles are already showing tremendous growth and impressive social sharing power, and if you don’t want to risk losing that, you should probably play by the company’s stated rules, as contradictory or incomplete as they may currently be. However, the mere fact that they’re incomplete suggests they may change, so keep your eyes apprised of that.

Read my full, lightly edited e-mail conversation with Google’s Ms. Watson after the break, and do note the point where she’s unable to directly answer my questions. I say this not to criticize her (she’s only relating existing policy), but to suggest the place where Google as a whole could better explain itself -- and provide a really meaningful, competitive alternative to the real name-obsessed giant called Facebook.

Google Profile pseudonym name suspended

Does Google plan to suspend avatar-based Plus accounts, and if so, why? This Second Life user apparently had his account cancelled for that reason.

Google’s Katie Watson: We actually worked with this person to reinstate their profile. They changed their profile to include their real name, and then used their "avatar-based name" in the field that asks for other names. [See Update below.]

Google Profiles are designed to be public pages on the web, which are used to help connect and find real people in the real world. By providing your common name, you will be assisting all people you know - friends, family members, classmates, co-workers, and other acquaintances - in finding and creating a connection with the the right person online.

Does Google plan to have a special or separate means for + users to manage their game/MMO/virtual world social networks?

Google+ is an ongoing project and this is just the beginning. We plan to add a lot of features and functionality to Google+ over time. We’re just excited to get started.

Just to make sure I understand, are you saying that pseudonymous Google+ profiles that are not associated in any way with a real name, but just use a game/online community/avatar account name, are not allowed?

Yes, we do ask for people to include the name they are commonly referred to in their Google profile. But we do have a field for them to enter a different name they are known as.

Again, Google Profiles are designed to be public pages on the web, which are used to help connect and find real people in the real world. By providing your common name, you will be assisting all people you know - friends, family members, classmates, co-workers, and other acquaintances - in finding and creating a connection with the the right person online.

OK, so if I understand you correctly, you're saying that anyone with a pseudonymous Google profile should instead create one with their real name, and add their pseudonym(s) in the alternate field. Otherwise, they risk suspension. Let me know if I'm misunderstanding that.

Here is our Help Center article, which is best to reference.

This link doesn't specifically answer my question. How does Google define "the name that you commonly go by in daily life"? Does that mean people who use an Internet community username in their daily life (in a social network, a forum, an online game, etc.) can use that name? For example, can someone who is well-known by their account name on YouTube use that?

Unfortunately, I cannot go into more detail aside from what's included on this site.

Google Profile screencap from Obscure's Flickr account.

UPDATE, 5:08PM: In Comments a few hours ago, Mr. Obscure claimed that he was not contacted by Google. In an e-mail I just received, Google's Katie Watson addresses this point: "I cannot confirm specific profiles we have reinstated, as I'm not part of the review process. I was trying to say that we are generally working with people to change their profile to include their real name, and then use their 'avatar-based name' in the field that asks for other names. I'm sorry for any confusion."

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Mandy

Amazing that they still can't or don't get it. Hopefully that will change, but it is disheartening

Jeff

Actually I would have to say this is one of the best things I like about Google+ and a main reason why I block and have removed all my friends using Alias accounts. I have no gain from friending an imaginary person, but I would love to engage real people, who value the trust I put on the table mutually to share identities. If you don't trust them this much, then why exactly are they your friend?

MaggieL

Obviously what's needed is a conversation with the *person* who is *setting* this policy, because right now you're interviewing an email-enabled web page.

Senban Babii

I know we don't always agree on this type of subject Hamlet but having read the article I just wanted to say good job on asking the right questions. You can occasionally come across as pursuing an agenda of sorts but this time the balance was far more apparent, representing a spread of interests :)

"Again, Google Profiles are designed to be public pages on the web, which are used to help connect and find real people in the real world."

Define "real world?" The simple fact is that "real world" communications and social networking happen in the "real world" (and by "real world" I mean meatspace.) It's strange how an online company basically says that the internet doesn't count as "real." Anything happening in cyberspace by Google's approach isn't "real." Who are you to define what is real Google? Why not look at what your customers decide is real and base your business model on that instead of trying to force conformity to your twisted idea of what is real?

But then Google and Facebook are only about linking up all the data fragments of our lives to build a picture they can then sell. And connecting us to our avatars is another potentially profitable linkage whilst knowing us solely as avatars isn't something they can pass on for profit.

Social networking does not exist for our comfort, convenience and amusement. It is a machine, hungry for data munchies that we willingly feed it through packaging and performing our own identities for the comfort and convenience of the machine's masters.

Nathan Adored

I have said this before, I will say this again: We must be polite but firm, and keep pressing until we win.

I wonder how many more people are effected by this decision, how many more people on SL and the like would likely have gotten a Google+ account under their SL name, or how many people outside of SL would have gotten a Google+ account under some other fanciful name that they go everywhere by. Maybe if enough of them rose up and complained, politely but firmly, that the current Google+ policy was unacceptable, Google might change their policy for the better.

Unfortunately, it's not really clear how large or how small this number really is. We might be kidding ourselves and there's only a tiny handful of us, or we might be the tip of the iceburg.

Jura Shepherd

Some names are more obvious pseudonyms than others. My name for example at least looks like it could be a 'real' name, whereas there probably aren't many people naming their kid Opensource Obscure. But seriously, other than some glaring cue like that, it seems wildly impractical to enforce the standard that they are kinda-sorta-halfassed-mealymouthed talking about.

It's just goofy. I could create a profile using an extremely common name, find some fuzzy random pic of someone, and spam the living daylights out of everyone. Is that better for G+ content than having a pseudonymous contributor with years of social weight and history?

I understand, and even appreciate their intent, but they're seriously out of their gourds on this.

Opensource Obscure

For the record, I never changed my profile to include my real name.

Also, I never used my "avatar-based name" in the field that asks for other names (in this field I had, and still have, "oobscure" and "open" - which are other nicknames I use).

This Google spokesperson may have confused me with someone else.

As you can see, my Google Profile is still unavailable.
Note that it's been suspended - not deleted or removed.
Currently, my name is still "Opensource Obscure" there, as I don't plan to add my real name to my Google Profile.

I guess I'll stick with the Second Life Beta Social Profiles for now ;-)
Feel free to write on my-demo.secondlife.com/opensource.obscure.

Otenth

I added Opensource Obscure's profile to my circles before his suspension. It has not been renamed, and it continues to say that he does not use G+ and can only be reached via email.

A search in the Google+ "find people" field for "Opensource Obscure" doesn't turn up any profiles that show that name in the "other names" field.

I've posted a message in Google+ to Katie Watson asking about this discrepancy. I'll let you know if I receive an answer or am suspended.

Wizard Gynoid

hamlet, you fail to include crucial information on this issue that has been circulating widely since Opensource's account was suspended. at issue is the *legality* of Google+ not allowing the use of a name.
http://is.gd/gKd4qc twitter hashtag #plusgate

Wizard Gynoid

Opensource now says that Google never worked with him and did not reinstate his account.

Sling Trebuchet

I don't have issues sharing identity with friends A casual acquaintance is not a 'friend'.
A casual acquaintance demanding identity is an insecure soul that would be best avoided.

I do have issues with sharing identity with the entire universe. The universe does not have a "need to know".
Real names as a universal default would the wet dream of a dark-hat social engineer.
viz. Some recent high-profile security breaches enabled by carefully tailored emails sent to targeted individuals.

Apart from the dark-hats, there are the out-and-out creeps with too much time on their hands.

Nathan Adored

Actually, another thing that just crossed my mind looking at that email message excerpt: they want you to link your birth name with your avatar name. They don't realize that some people, for very good reason, don't want their SL name linked to their RL name, for their own protection. There ARE cases where someone's SL identity, what they actively engage in as their VR self, is directly at odds with their day job, or could be taken as such by an employer who might not understand it is harmless fantasy. Say, if you work at an elementary school, but in SL are actively and prominently involved in sexual RP while wearing black latex head to toe. Oo

Nathan Adored

Grrrr... I tried to post a second message, and it seems to have taken the place of the first one.

Cajsa Lilliehook

And if they suspend the account, does one lose all their accounts including email?

Opensource Obscure

Cajsa: they don't suspend the account, they suspend the Profile. You can't use Buzz, Google Plus and +1s.
You can still use all other Google services - or so it seems up to now.

Arya Markova

The help page states "Violation of these standards may result in the removal of your profile or deletion of your Google Account."

That's a pretty big "or" there. As of now they are just suspending your profile and Google+ access, but the policy reads like there is a chance you might lose all your access to gmail, docs, calendar, blogger, etc.

Nathan Adored

(Grrr.... Why has blogs.com got such a colossally huge design flaw that when you type a new comment at the bottom of the page soon after posting a comment already, the "new" one eats the old one? You'd figure they'd have fixed that years ago! Now I have to recreate my original post totally from scratch!)

I have said this before, I will say this again. We need to be polite but firm, but keep pressing the point until we win.

And there need to be more people speaking up. I wonder how many Second Life people would have gotten a Google+ account under their SL name, or how many people would have gotten some other pseudonymous name that they've gone by since dirt was in beta, but that isn't tied to their real life name. What if all of them stood up and told Google that their Google+ policy was totally unacceptable? Would they listen then?

Trouble is, we don't really know how many of us there are on this. We might be kidding ourselves and there's only a tiny handful of us wanting a SL name as our Google+ name, then again, we might be the tip of the iceburg.

(And now to add the bit that "ate" my previous message)

Actually, another thing that just crossed my mind looking at that email message excerpt: they want you to link your birth name with your avatar name. They don't realize that some people, for very good reason, don't want their SL name linked to their RL name, for their own protection. There ARE cases where someone's SL identity, what they actively engage in as their VR self, is directly at odds with their day job, or could be taken as such by an employer who might not understand it is harmless fantasy. Say, if you work at an elementary school, but in SL are actively and prominently involved in sexual RP while wearing black latex head to toe. Oo

Hamlet Au

I feel your pain, Nathan; I usually copy my own Typepad comments before posting, in case they disappear.

Obscure, I updated the post. Of course, this points out the challenge and limitation with avatar names: How do I actually know you're the "real" Opensource Obscure claiming you weren't contacted by Google?

Nathan Adored

Oh, wait, it DIDN'T eat my message. [[-facepalm!!-]] Sure looked like it did, tho. Maybe FireFox wasn't updating the page right, or something. [[-Looks sheepish.-]]

Opensource Obscure

Hamlet: I bet you don't ask an ID to those people with realistic names you interview.

Anyway feel free to ask me a confirmation in-world or on https://my-demo.secondlife.com/opensource.obscure - that will make you 100% sure of who you're talking with.

Nathan Adored

Actually, it looks like it's simply not updating the rest of the page when I post a comment, so if someone else posts since I loaded the page and before I posted, I don't see those either. And if I type more stuff into the Post a commment thingy (without clicking the link that appears after I posted my first post, asking if you want to post another), it simply plops the new post where my old one was.... but everyone else sees the new messages after I arrived, including all of my other posts. Weird. oO

Dunno if it's Firefox not doing this right, or the blog software not doing this right, or both.

TheBlack Box

Petition:

https://plus.google.com/108580562690057205363/posts/VNeVcApnTGB

Please either +1 it or write a better one and let me know about it.

Aeonix Aeon

As wizard mentioned, any argument that Google (and even Facebook) may be holding up as their reasoning in an attempt to force people to use "real names" may be a moot point. Avatar names are pseudonyms, and pseudonyms hold nearly all the exact legal weight and respect as a real name. Any private company that insists it doesn't is likely in the wrong.

Filing avatar identities under "fictional" without any sort of precedence, nor allowing people to show verification that the avatar identity is not entered in a manner meant to defraud, to me (and likely the law) counts as two strikes.

This isn't a matter of what Google says is their Terms of Service, because in this situation their terms of service could easily be shredded in public view should a lawyer decide to take a real look. I've only cited two instances in my write up about how a lawyer could destroy Google and Facebook in court if they wanted to press the issue, and I'm sure with more digging, a lawyer would easily find a mountain of precedence against Google and Facebook's practice.

A legal field-day, if you will.

The only reason the likes of Google or Facebook continue to get away with demanding more personal information is merely because nobody bothers to challenge them. All it will take is somebody to stop moving on and instead stand their ground.

When that day comes, it'll be a major shift in the identity paradigm.

MarillaAnne Slade

Why is some Google personage discussing Opensource Obscure's account with *anyone* else?

This is actually something that lays most businesses open to lawsuits ...

But let's consider their TOS's privacy statements and then *not* be surprised.

They have a fluffy, tidy sounding, privacy statement with the Google+ products but you should read the nitty gritty version for a Google product called "friend connect"

A portion is as follows ....
8. Information Rights

Google may retain and use, subject to the terms of the Google Privacy Policy, all information you provide, including but not limited to Web site demographics and contact information. You agree that Google may transfer and disclose to third parties personally identifiable information about you for the purpose of approving and enabling your use of the Services, including to third parties that reside in jurisdictions with less restrictive data laws than your own. Google may also provide information in response to valid legal process, such as subpoenas, search warrants and court orders, or to establish or exercise its legal rights or defend against legal claims. Google disclaims all responsibility, and will not be liable to you, however, for any disclosure of that information by any such third party. Google may share non-personally-identifiable information about you, including Web site URLs, site-specific statistics, and similar information collected by Google, with advertisers, business partners, sponsors, and other third parties. In addition, you grant Google the right to access, index and cache your Web sites, or any portion thereof, including by automated means including Web spiders or crawlers.

....
Slow down and read that carefully ... they will and do share your personally identifying data with 3rd parties ... and ... it's not Google's problem what the 3rd parties do with it.

Also, in all the TOS's, Google clearly states that all web widgets are used at your own risk.

... Let's get this straight ...

Google's craving to sell data that reflects "reality" ... as if that really exists.

Google does not want to take on the responsibility of monitoring the 3rd party people helping to build "the success" of their platform.

There's a lot more to be said about this whole movement to tie all internet conversations to a Real Person ... but I'm going to go dust off my non-Google platforms to broadcast from ...

enjoy have fun

Ronald Bearing

Facebook has always insisted on a real name. Does that mean Facebook doesn't 'get social' either?

Adeon Writer

Glad I held off creating one right away. If their policy changes, I'll jump on it instantly - it's a great tool.

Niko Donburi

@Ronald, given Facebook's recent deletion of SL related accounts, I'd have to say "no".

Hamlet Au

"Does that mean Facebook doesn't 'get social' either?"

Facebook got a very key component of social very well: the value of connecting real people online, especially those who already know each other. But there's still a large opportunity for another social network to get the rest: the 100s of millions of accounts where anonymity has importance and affordances too.

Sling Trebuchet

Google's Information Rights

"including to third parties that reside in jurisdictions with less restrictive data laws than your own."

More Pearl Harbour than Safe Harbour !

Nathan Adored

I have a feeling the stink of this issue is going to get larger and larger, and not because of Second Life users wanting Google+ and/or Facebook accounts under their SL names, but because of the fact that our personal details are OUR business and are none of anyone ELSE'S business. If Google, right out in the open, show they don't intend to LET us be anonymous... don't intend to LET us shield our identity from others in cyberspace... and intend to FORCE us to reveal too much information about ourselves in a form that others we DON'T know can peruse... it WILL get messy. There will be blood in the water.

bongo

THEY get it.. its you all that dont. Google is like facebook a corporate scrapper of data for sale. It exists not to further any "betterverse" fantasyland you followers of philp dream about, but only to monetize all your clicking actions and control the cable tv advertising version of the internet that they can get rich on. period.

Ann Otoole InSL

If you don't like Google's or Facebook's nefarious privacy invading ways then learn their ad domains and block them and their main domains in your hosts file and deny them and those who support them ad views and the related revenue. For instance if everyone in SL blocked Google Ad Sense then all the SL specific blogs that obtain revenue from these ads would lose almost all of that revenue thus potentially shutting them down and Google potentially losing the ad revenue from SL related advertisers since hardly anyone would see the ads.

As for petitions and people whining on the internet about it? Google and Facebook don't care about the measly pittance of SL people. We don't matter.

There are hundreds or maybe thousands of SL avatars in Google+. I still have yet to see anyone but Opensource Obscure banned from google+. Smells like a personal issue between him and someone at Google.

Google lying about their actions is not helping either.

Aquarius Paravane

The issue is not pseudonymity it's ANONYMITY. Anonymity and privacy are not synonymous, they are orthogonal (a social netowrk can provide a high degree of one and none of the other). Google should be clear about whether they do or do not support anonymous profiles. Requiring people to have a public real world identity = no support for anonymous profiles.

Game over, Google + for SL Avatars.

Aliasi Stonebender

as for Jeff... well, it's funny. I don't consider a lot of people over the internet to be friends, either. Good aquaintances, or friendly, but I have a small number of real friends. They know my real identity, but we *still* call each other by our pseudonyms. After all, your real name is whatever your parents stuck you with unless you take some legal action; YOU choose your online alias. Or Aliasi, as the case may be.

jeci

Until Google stops making your profile name searchable, they are not addressing the real safety needs of anybody out there who has been stalked or threatened.

Nevermind not getting the generalities of people using identity online... Should I have to produce a restraining order to prove to them why my safety would be threatened by someone being able to search for me by my real name???

Nathan Adored

The thing of the matter is, Google do NOT have to force their users to give them their real-world identity in order to obtain that surfer demographics information, they just have to know approximately what part of the world their internet connections are from. Do they have to know the real name and exact mailing address of everyone in order to track how many people prefer Star Trek sites to wrestling sites? No, because knowing exactly what part of Florida I'm in is irrelevant to what sites I'm surfing to unless the site is specific to my city. They don't have to know what my street address is, or my real name is, when tracking how often I go to Amazon.com or eMusic.com.

But, the truth is, internally there at Google, they DO know more or less who I am and where I am. So long as they are not imparting personal information to a third party without my knowledge or consent, which by law they really can't anyway...

On the other hand, they're offering a means for people to connect with other people that those people know. True, they want to tie demographics to that -- what surfing habits I have -- but it is NOT necessary to make ME have to give out what MY real name and mailing address is to each of those people I connect to to chat with. Google might want to know my real name, that doesn't mean they have to demand it of me. And if I voluntarily give them that, they do NOT have to force me to give that info to whoever else wants it if I DON'T WANT those others to have it. It should only be necessary for GOOGLE to know where I am (upper Florida), for their demographics to make sense, there is NO obligation for that info to be imparted on to those I'm chatting with, nor should my real name be imparted to them if I don't WANT them to know my real name.

Hell, it's not really even necessary for Google to know my real name, and since they already know where in the world I am, simply from their own internal tracking mechanisms... my real name doesn't matter when it comes to collecting websurfing demographics from me. So why are they suddenly demanding REAL NAMES from everyone for Google+ when they were going the direct opposite on their requirements on this on all their other services?

They're trying to copycat Facebook, but they're also incorporating the FLAWS Facebook have... probably without realizing they ARE flaws, or that these are the very things that are driving some people AWAY FROM Facebook and TO them!

But again, I tell you... for the demographics they want to get, it is not necessary for them to have my real name, only that they know where I am on Earth. And they already know that now!

Janet

I will never use my real name on any forum or network site, or even email account, in this day and age of security breaches and identity theft, it's just something I will never do. People these days are crazy how much information they put out of themselves, it is time to draw back a bit and keep the virtual world a little more separate from our real names and locations.

Nathan Adored

Anti-pseudonym bingo
http://geekfeminism.org/2011/07/08/anti-pseudonym-bingo/

The status of pseudonymity and privacy on Google+
http://geekfeminism.org/2011/07/10/the-status-of-pseudonymity-and-privacy-on-google/

I gather from some comments in the second link that there's a big, public debate going on among some of the people running Google+ about nicks or no-nicks and which direction to take things.

Terminated Account

This is what happens when corporations managed by geeks who have no sense of the real world (except for their own monetary gain) try to replace legislators.

For ages I have been invited by ANY online service to avoid giving out my real life information unless requested for a particular service. Now we have social networks violating our privacy for commercial purposes.

Perhaps if we stoppped using social networks altogether and suddenly, chances are corporations might reconsider their policies.

However, I think the time has come to really regulate the internet in favor of the users. Corporations are becoming too powerful.

TikWee

OK wow that makes a lot of sense dude. WOw.

www.total-web-privacy.tk

Technogran

No one will find me then if this is the case! Besides which the argument about people being able to find you online only if you use your real name such as school friends etc, doesn't hold water with me (that's the same excuse used by Facebook!) seeing as most of us females change our name when we get married.
I shall be most upset if Google ask me to change my name, I hate to use it on the internet, everyone knows me as Technogran

confused brit

I've been stalked before, that's going to be a deal breaker for me.
I stayed on FB because I was already there and at least able to block the bastard. I'm not going to make it easy for him to find me on here.
If my account gets suspended for a pseudonymous name, then it stays suspended.

Besides, I've been confused.brit since 1998. Most people who would want to add me on G+ know me as this identity. Why would they add the individual with the unusual first name they've never heard of?

Anon

Your post is stupid. They are simply following the FB model.

foneco zuzu

Well, its so easy, just dont use g+ or facebook!

iSkye Silverweb

whatever became of 2ndhub?

Armin

What is more amazing is that you guys do not know that facebook has the same EXACT policy.... you have to use a real name on facebook or risk getting deleted.

so does facebook not get social either

or do you just not get reporting/journalism/researching...


this article and now apparently you are a joke, you are grasping at straws and I just lost respect for you as a blogger...

Lucian Armasu

Wait, so are you saying that Google allowing only real names, which is the EXACT same thing Facebook is doing, is a bad thing, and they don't get social?

What??

And the mantra is stupid. Just because it was true in the past, doesn't mean it's still true. From my point of view Google+ is already much more social than Facebook. So I'd say that's reason enough to say from now on that "Google GETS social".

Rurik Bradbury

@Ronald -- right, Facebook does not 'get' social. The only people who truly get it are virtual dungeonmasters hanging out on Second Life.

~C4Chaos

this is lame. as the article above mentioned: "a Google Profiles support page says the name you use on the system should be one “that you commonly go by in daily life”-- which doesn’t acknowledge that a large amount of people commonly do go by an Internet-based, non-real account name in their daily life, and are often known to more people online by that pseudonym than they are by their real name."

i've been using my internet handle for a long time now and i've basically made it consistent across all social networks i've signed up with. my real name is not really relevant online. not that i'm hiding or anything, it's just not relevant to what i've been doing online. and i have no interest on mixing up my internet presence with my close friends and family because i talk to them in my own native language. and besides, the stuff that i do with my online handle don't interest them. they already know how to find me because they have my email. so Google saying that i have to use my real name so i can easily be found by people is a moot point.

i had this issue before with Facebook when my account got suspended because of my handle. i had a conversation with Facebook support and explained to them that i've been using my pseudonym for as long as i've been online. Facebook gave me a pass on this, hence my Facebook account.

i hope Google makes an exception on a case to case basis like Facebook did. they could practically Google my handle and see that my online handle has more relevance online than my real name. and i'd prefer it to stay that way.

Chaddington Boomhauer

Secondlife user's don't get social. SL and G+ are both the real world. Get a clue.

AFakeOnlineName

So, I have the following questions:
What about a person trying to get published under a pen name?
What about a person who is trying to avoid a stalker/get out of an abusive relationship with the help of 'online friends'?
What about a person who goes by their middle name?
What about a person--maybe a teacher, or celebrity, or cop--who DOESN'T WANT TO BE FOUND by anyone that they're not inviting specifically?

If I wanted to have all of my family and co-workers see what I'm doing and posting at all time, I'd refer them to my FB account that I set up years ago for just that purpose. It's nice and censored for grandparents and perspective employers after all. I was hoping that G+ would be a place that I could talk about my religion, politics, my views on parenting, comic books/video games, writing, my take on trash reality TV, and 'that party I went to last night' without being judged by the people I censor this stuff for on FB.

If G+ is just FB 2.0, then what's the point of switching? I ALREADY have a FB, and it's already got all of my pictures, family, and co-workers set up. Where is the benefit in using G+?

gubatron

I wouldnt say right off that google doesnt get social. They have built quite an amazing product, and you as an outsider may not know the real reasons for such restrictions. When you run a company so big you are immediatly under the eye of the feds, and given the recent obsesion with homeland security google may be under government pressure to enforce people into saying who they are.

Google gets social, dont be naive.

Eric

I like this policy. It's meant to mimic real-life social interactions and it's not everyday that I introduce myself as Zoltron Master of the Universe.

Rob-L

Does this mean that Lady Gaga has to start her Google profile as Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta and list Lady Gaga as another name? :-)

nexus burbclave

wow, this article has certainly attracted a lot of haters.

The "doesn't get social" comment from the article is born out of genuine frustration. Sorry if it doesn't conform to your world view, but perhaps you should learn the fine art of disagreeing without being disagreeable if you want to prove that you "get social".

I think a better way of stating his point may be that they don't get identity rather than that they don't get social. In much the same way that all currency is virtual, all identity is ultimately a construct. In both cases, their value is derived from what is perceived of them. Government certification can certainly add to the perceived validity of currency or identity, but it is ultimately perception that gives either their value. Many people are far more recognizable by their gamer tags, or avatar names, or noms de plume than they are by their legal birth names. Put in Google-speak, these alternate identities are what they "commonly go by in daily life". Hence the frustration. You are free to disagree of course, but this seems like a valid complaint imo.

Crystal

It always makes me laugh each time i read something like "I would love to engage real people". Do you think we're robots or dogs or salmons behind our computers for the simple reason MANY of us use a pseudonym? Most of us don't WANT to have their real names displayed on the internet for privacy/security reasons and i believe it's nobody's business as long as these people don't cause any harm and trouble. Plus why would i "engage" with complete strangers knowing that i'll never ever want to meet them other than on the internet? Pseudonyms shouldn't be a problem, they've existed forever and will always exist, internet or not.

Gwyneth Llewelyn

Well, as a consumer, my only problem is with de facto monopolies/cartels. When consumers have choices, I'm all for utter de-regulamentation and allowing companies to do pretty much what they wish with their clients: the market will show which will survive.

The problem is when there is just one or two choices, and both use exactly the same principles. In those cases, as a consumer, I can opt in — or stay away from both. This is, strictly saying, unfair — specially if companies are allowed to establish terms of services that violate individual rights, but, since nobody sues them for those violations, they are pretty much able to do whatever they please.

In some countries, you cannot establish a contract that implies a voluntary abdication of your civil rights as a citizen, even if you fully agree with the terms of service. Suppose that to create an account with Google, you had to murder someone and bring valid proof of the assassination. Google would not be able to enforce those policies, even if they fully disclosed that nobody is really "required" to join their services if they don't wish to murder anyone.

Now, a privacy breach is also in some jurisdictions a criminal act against a person. Obviously it's not as serious as outright murder, but punished in a criminal court as well. Apparently, in the jurisdiction where Facebook and Google operates this is not the case; attempts against one's privacy is just a common, civil case, and handled with normal suits of law. At least that's my speculation — I don't think that even Google or Facebook would be able to carry on if they were actively violating a criminal law. So, well, in these "shady" areas I would like that some authority establishes a certain amount of regulation...

Gubatron

It's very naive for the author to put "Google Still Doesn’t Get Social" on the headline of this article.

Obviously Google has dissected what social networking is and they have very talented people to make it happen.

When you have a company of the size of Google you're immediately under the Feds eyes, and you being an outsider have no clue what stupid restrictions Google may have to abide by since there might be a number of investigations dictating very strict guidelines on the development of this product.

Given the obsession with our government to track everything that we do,with the excuse of terrorism, it wouldn't surprise me Google's hand isbeing forced into such policies.

Don't be so naive.

Quack Gundotra

@Ronald Bearing

It means they are evil, and that a lot of people lie. Now Google is going evil too.

I don't care what Googles excuse is, I don't need their help to "find real people in the real world" (unless they are famous people, in which case they want to be found) - people I know will be told, I don't need you to assist. I should be allowed to use an alias online if i so choose ("Don't use plus then" - apparently this will spread to all their services)

And I wonder if that stupid woman really understands how retarded she comes across with her "We actually worked with this person" - another phrase for: Do what we say or get lost.

And man, does she come across like a low IQ drone when she can't even ask questions. You would have hoped they didn't have that kind of low levels at Google.

Jeff

Jeff,

If you know your personal friend is using an alias, then you know who the person behind that alias is, you know the person is real. Why should you so arrogantly force your friends hand in to being exposed to the wider audience of the internet?

Some people are ridiculously dense.

A.Lizard

If I wanted my "real name" associated with a public profile, I'd already have a Facebook account.

I was seriously considering Google Plus. Now I know that I should send any invites I get for the service straight to the bit-bucket.

If Google's management wants to enable cyberstalkers so badly, they can put their own real names and home / office addresses in their own Google profiles and leave the rest of us the hell out of this.

I've been thinking lately that I depend entirely too much on Google services and need to look for alternatives. I consider this a reminder from Google corporate management that I'm right.

Anon Ymous

They are placing thousands of female domestic violence victims at grave risk with this policy.

Chuck

I noticed that Google really isn't doing too much to combat this as there are a number of Jesus Christ profiles currently in place on Plus.

I also noticed that there is little to no enforcement of the "no business profile" rule with SEO companies and churches of all things being the biggest violators I've seen.

Anonymous

That is just silly. What happens with people who live in or deal with people in 'delicate' countries? Is google going to openly deny them an account?

Kreeg

The reason why its ok for Facebook to do demand it and not Google for one reason.

FB started out social and is working to everything else. FB was looking to connect people with no other way to do it.

Google started with everything else is moving to social. They have the user base and the connections among people. It can lift that data directly from Gmail.

If I get banned on FB for not using my real name, no biggie...

If I get banned from Google for it, I COULD possible loose access to my gmail, calendars, documents, etc... That's too big an if to deal with. Then it becomes the question of how before its required to have a google profile, make it public even if you aren't using G+?

Not Happening

I have friends from various sources. My real name is reserved for my real life friends and family. My online friends don't need my real full name nor do I need theirs. If they suspend my account, I'll just name myself John Smith ;)

Not Happening

They just don't get it. Playing online games with someone (Mafia Wars for example, not that I play it) doesn't mean you want them knowing your real name. My real name is somewhat rare. It's easy to find me ;)

Kai Dracon

Pseudonyms are not anonymous. Pseudonym is just another word for "High, please call me XXXX".

That's it. Folks who say "I want to know a real person, not an imaginary one," have met "imaginary" people every day - every time they meet someone who responds to a name that doesn't happen to be printed on a birth certificate.

Facebook's name policy is in fact, a bad thing and always was. The irony is that there are no doubt countless people on Facebook who are not actually John Smith or Sally Brown. Those names merely sound "normal" and don't raise eyebrows. Facebook's name policy hasn't done much to stop Facebook from destroying lives and being used as a lever of exploitation against people. If anything, it's taught a generation to be naive about their identity on the Internet. To believe that it's "more adult" to spam their real life name and enough information to track them down to the entire globe at once.

No, that's just being naive.

Google is reiterating their "REAL WORLD REAL PEOPLE" line because it's marketing bilge. They want their new product to hit the ground running with an easy to remember tagline. They're making the mistake of trying to directly compete against Facebook in a red ocean, instead of sailing into a blue ocean of customers who are unhappy with Facebook or even passed it by entirely.

Allowing more control over personal information and identity is one way Google could make a run around Facebook - Facebook is too entrenched to change quickly and respond. Their own culture is set against it; Facebook users have swallowed the flavor-aid with regards to representing themselves with as much information and pictures as possible for someone to track 'em down in real life.

RonW

The case of "Opensource Obscure" is rather clear, however, I wonder how they account for cultural differences? I know someone of native American heritage who's name is "Rain Storm". Would she be allowed to use her name?

(Would also be interesting to know if "Moon Unit Zappa" would be allowed to use her name. (For those who don't know, "Moon Unit" is the daughter of singer "Frank Zappa".))

Arkady

Deep in Facebook's pockets?

At least, that seems like a plausible explanation for talking about how Google doesn't "get social" by having the exact same real-name policy as Big Brother Mark.

John Thomas

You don't HAVE to use any of these services! If you don't want to give up the info, just use text messaging, IM, or emal!

Deve

Ronald, that isnt the case. You don't have to have a real name for Facebook. You can use nicknames etc.

Pagla

During their short stay at China, Google has probably been infected with the "Chinese Government bug".

One of its symptoms are going to the rooftop to shout "You pleasantries don't count! Others' opinions don't count! This is MY system! Follow them or you're out!"

limbodog

I have absolutely no desire to connect my birth-name to my online identity. That crap is how I got chased off facebook in the first place. I do not *want* to be easily found by anyone who has ever heard of my "real life" name. I want to have a place where I can interact online with the people I trust.

If that is not going to be Google+ as it clearly was not Facebook, so be it. I will keep waiting for someone to do it right.

jas

if google isnt putting money in my pocket....THEY HAVE NO RIGHT TO KNOW WHAT MY REAL NAME IS.

go to hell google.

TheBlack Box

My G+ account just got suspended.

Moggs Oceanlane

I read googles community standards, as far as I can see, I haven't violated one of them. And that includes using the name Moggs Oceanlane.

Having my profile disabled may have been ok, but having ALL google services suspended due to alleged "suspicious activity" on my account and then having to provide a mobile number (which I in the end did, after *registering a secondary number that I do not use daily). I felt a bit bullied by this action and felt that it was probably tied to the google+ verification/account issue - which based on the number of other people who experienced the same, I figure it was. In my opinion, this is an underhanded way of getting personal data.

*I had to complete a form with my real name and signature to get the secondary phone number (but they didn't want me to share these details with the world so I was ok with it).

I have chosen to remove all profile information associated with my google account - of which there was plenty, including information about my real life and work and have deleted my profile picture too.

In both the physical world and online world I like the option to choose who I give my name, photo, mobile and other personal information to. For me, google's policy has nothing to do with being a second lifer and everything to do with my belief that people are entitled to some privacy and can ask for it even if they didn't do anything wrong. It's not like google wanted my name just for their information as a service provider, they were demanding that I share my name and photo with EVERYONE.

In my real world, I go by my last name. People from work call me that as do most of my friends. Many people don't even know my first name or would have to think hard before telling you. Some of my real world people call me moggs - it was real world before second life... but, some have started calling me moggs because of my second life name to amuse themselves.

When I signed up to facebook for my physical world account it was with a fake name until I played around for a bit. I wish I'd kept it. All of my friends knew who I was. As for my Moggs account, it's still alive so they obviously care less than google.
Since this has happened, I have at random moments been seriously tempted to ask strangers on the street what their name is to see the reaction.

I think the demand that we share our names and photos with everyone in the world violates so many things - and is unneccessary and stupid.

A name and picture hold little credibility on their own anyway. Zero, to be precise. They only have value with history, actions and words.

Until google and other social networks start confirming you against your passport, drivers license or whatever - and forcing you to use the name that matches, then I guess they have no way of knowing whether someone is real or not regardless of what they call themselves on line or regardless of what picture they display. Perhaps this is coming...

Greg Steres

It's interesting. And I'm not sure that I agree with the author's conclusion that "google doesn't get social". I think, in fact, that google *does* get social. They know the massive abuses that anonymity causes online. Google seems to be looking to find a way to allow people to control what others see of them, to share different aspects of their personal, private life, without allowing the lying, conning, and scamming that anonymity brings.

Studies have shown that anonymity, without threat of consequences for bad behavior, leads inevitable and quickly to abuse. We've all seen it. In chat rooms. In perverse, nasty comments on the other social sites. In abusive trash talk between online gamers.

I would argue that google is trying to make online life more real, more like meatspace. And for those trolls who want to be able to act out without being caught? Your time may be ending.

Balt adia  Steven

Honestly I don't see what all the fuss is about. Facebook and g+ are designed to cater to people in meatspace and not in cyberspace. Not everyone spends as much time online to create a digital self like second life users. All my friends have given me slack over spending time interfacing with the digital too much. To network in second life I used Plurk. Social media is designed to connect humans with more human, which includes real names. As much as we would love to live in a "perfect" world like second life in the future, nothing can replace the human contact that rl gives us. Sure I can talk with someone on the other side of the world but can avatars simulate and fully mediate human interaction?

Ciaran Laval

Google Plus and Facebook are not meatspace, they are online interactions. Meatspace is in person physical interactions, down the pub, down the football match, at work, out shopping and they are places where we don't all walk around with big signs on our heads.

@Greg Steres, people aren't arguing about anonymity, they are arguing about pseudonymity, they are quite different concepts. Linden Lab and Google both have my full details, as does the company who host my website, anonymous I'm not.

As for this stopping trolling, think again, they just make up real sounding names not tied to anything that I have my pseudonym tied to.

moggsoceanlane


Mostly I'm not so much anti-google+ as anti their policy. I'm glad that a number of people have been vocal on this - and not just virtual world avatars. I think it sets a quite disturbing precedent, which if accepted from google could possibly become the norm.

The thing is, that when we accept these things without question, we often lose far more than a social network. Most people only notice the loss of rights after they are gone.

I don't believe that privacy is dead and I believe that even if you've done nothing wrong, you have a right to it.

If google wants my name as a provider that's one thing But telling me that I must share my name/image with the rest of the world, it's quite silly. And not just silly, in some cases unsafe and harmful to wellbeing.

Some are blase and say, "it's google's service, so they can do what they want", it's possible they are missing the fact that some people are concerned more about the long term impacts and implications for privacy rather than about access or lack there of to a single service.

While I've never been a huge fan of Facebook, I don't think they were anywhere near as draconian about names as Google have been. (I do have a real life and a second life account, neither of which I use very often).

I could have put a real name, my second life isn't a secret - the thing is, I don't want to share my name with the world, it's like walking around with a sign on my head.

My real life name attracts unwanted attention from someone who harassed me over a period of years.

My account was banned for suspicious activity - which wasn't explained and I did unlock my account via SMS so I could redirect email and move/delete my blog to avoid this in the future, my google+ account remained locked. I have since redirected email and moved my blog - I don't like the idea of having all communication off so readily.

I'm ok not having google+, using my own domain for email, etc... but still, the idea that this policy may be accepted as norm horrifies me from a rights point of view.

Forcing people to use their real names on a service might be ok... but if ALL services follow this precedent, or even the majority of them, some people will lose their freedom to communicate - for me, this has never been about virtual world residents.

Monkey

Since Monkey isn't a proper christian name according to Google, I changed it to something else made up. *shrug*

Complained to goog via email about the irony that the company that's forcing me to not be anonymous is the same company that forced me into anonymity in the first place, the reply came

"Thank you for contacting us with regard to the name you want to use with your Google Profile. After further review, we have determined that your name is within our Community Standards policy. Thank you for your patience while we reviewed your profile name. You can just use your last initial if you dont want to use your last name.

Sincerely,
Neil
The Google Profiles Support Team"

Of course, that may just be Neil's line and not the company's but there's a bit of hope for people who want to remain somewhat anonymous without having to directly lie.

Jim Tarber

@Ronald: Facebook certainly does not get social. Facebook has pretty much ruined social, ruined the possible good reputation, and polluted the definition to the point where it actually threatens the lives of the users (or in some cases has lead to their deaths). They do not "get" social, almost at all. Neither do the masses, which is why Facebook has been a (temporary) success. I still have faith in the population. Facebook has reached its plateau now, and will slowly be replaced by Google+, which is another service that almost gets social, but doesn't really get it when push comes to shove.

I suspect that we will be left in a void for some time. Perhaps if Twitter comes out with an entirely new product that does not have the existing limitations, we might have something to use.

Pen

Just for those of you who are harping on the "Everyone should use their real name" thing: You. Clearly. Don't. Get. It.
There are many, many reasons why people don't use their real names, and don't WANT their real names associated with a pseudonym. This blog post explains some of the finer points for those people who are still unable to grasp this very basic concept: http://point7.wordpress.com/2011/07/24/google-the-pseudonym-banstick-and-the-netizen-cultural-schism/

AshLeS_iU

This policy completely contradicts the core concepts of social media and networking. I've watched several presentations, given by developers on behalf of, and by Google developers, who preach about OAuth and OpenID.

These keynote presentations drive home the message: Google's aim includes uniting social media across platforms by creating universal sharing through user identities'! Keyword being identity!

Considering OpenID and the premise behind the entire Google API, it seems almost oxymoronic G+ would force users to identify themselves by anything else but the "Identity" to which they are universally known; identities, pseudonyms, or nicknames consistent across multiple sharing and social networking platforms.

For example, if i am JimBob on Twitter, Facebook, Linkden, ect. then why, in God's name, would you make me identify my Google Profile with the name Jim Smith.

It is completely counter productive, and in the words of two Google speakers (who were ironically discussing google buzz api) it's "bad for consumers and bad for developers."

Why don't they just start up Google Wave again... if they are interested in backpedaling down the social media highway and into the land of no-where-ville!
So IMO if I could give this policy a -1 i would in a heartbeat.

Henry

Google, I'm not entering my real name. Either you clearly don't get social or all you care about is future payment functionality/monetisation. And you are not the IRS. I've been on facebook for a long time now and many of my friends have changed their display names many times, to reflect the way the wish to represent themselves according to how they feel at the time. I find this to be one of the greatest things about social networking: we get to express ourselves and play with our identities, as life goes on. I have have shared meatspace with (almost) all of my friends list members and there are many of those whose real name I don't know and may never know. And guess what? Who cares? And there are more ways to find wayward acquaintances than by name: perusing others friends lists or photos, for example. Remember, Google: this is SOCIAL networking, not LinkedIn (business networking) or banking. Don't be evil.

archer

it's amazing to me that the only way some folks determine the "legitimacy" of persons and their postings is from an assurance that the name associated is the one their mama gave them.

to paraphrase mlk:

it's not the name associated with the person, it's the content of their character
...and if you haven't the perception to determine that, well, you're lost regardless.

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