Google Continues Suspending Pseudonymous Profiles, But Promises Profiles for Non-Real "Entities" Soon
Google continues to suspend pseudonymous Profile accounts that are not real names, judging from today's suspension of "Botgirl Questi", the avatar name of a well-known SL blogger. In real life, Botgirl is David Elfanbaum, co-founder of a high tech consultancy called Asynchrony Solutions. (He "came out" as Botgirl a couple years ago.) Despite an RL presence in the tech world, Elfanbaum says he would prefer not to create a Profiles account based on his real name:
"Although my identities are linked publicly," he tells me by e-mail, "they're not identical and I have no desire to conflate them at some top level AKA or nickname level." (Google has told people to put avatar names and other pseudonyms in the "Other names" section of their profile.) Elfanbaum has a very interesting argument for why his Profile should be his avatar name, rather than his real one:
"Out of 50,000 people who may be familiar with me, 95% know me as Botgirl Questi. So theoretically under their existing policy, it should be my real life account that got suspended." (Google's rules state the profile name should be one “that you commonly go by in daily life.”) Also, Elfanbaum adds, "I'm in solidarity with the majority of those with avatar identities who have not linked with real life."
All that said, judging by Botgirl's suspension notice posted above, he and others like him should have alternatives in the next few months:
"[W]e are currently limiting profiles to real people," the text reads, "and will be launching a profile for businesses and other entities later this year." This messaging fits a recent statement from Google VP Vic Gundotra, who said the company plans to introduce features for handling pseudonyms. So if you want to have a Google Profile named after your avatar, Reddit or YouTube account, or whatever, you may want to wait until then to see what exactly that option is. Hopefully Google will have figured how important pseudonyms are in online socialization, though I'm still skeptical there. Until then, in any case, if you want a Profile now and want to insure it's not suspended, make sure it's based on your real name -- or following a Google engineer's informal advice, at least "looks" like a real name.