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Are 'Real Names' Policies an Abuse of Power?

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the not-every-comment-deserves-attribution dept.

Facebook 318

telekon writes "Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd argues in this article that 'The people who most heavily rely on pseudonyms in online spaces are those who are most marginalized by systems of power.' This comes in the wake of criticism aimed at Facebook and Google for their stance on anonymity and pseudonymity. A related article from the Atlantic discusses how revolutionary the real name requirement really is."

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Easy solution (5, Insightful)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999432)

Dont use Facebook or Google+.

Plenty of other methods of communication.

Re:Easy solution (3, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999494)

Mass market solutions always pander to or exploit idiots. Good marketing tends to win out against good product or even being first to market. So products and solutions that target savvy users tend to be marginalized. Since computing tends to create "compatibility" barriers, this becomes especially problematic.

The sad fact is that most people don't see the danger of broadcasting their lives on the Internet.

So more dangerous solutions proliferate to the detriment of better alternatives.

Re:Easy solution (4, Interesting)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999540)

Futaba style image boards are a very versatile method of communication.
In my opinion they have a free and openess of communication, which western style forums seem to stifle.

Re:Easy solution (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999602)

Quite correct. In the event I get booted from either service for not using my real name, I will not go back. I have a facebook account, but only so I can look at my sons' pages. I don't actually do anything with my own account at all. As for Google? Well, let's just wait and see... I'll give them up just as easily as I gave up cable TV... turned out to be easier than I ever expected it to be.

Re:Easy solution (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999666)

I've been stalked by an ex-girlfriend. She is completely goddamn psychotic.

Unfortunately, she stays just to that grey area of the law where the local police "can't do anything" and lawyers are leery of it. She tried to bug the hell out of my boss at work for a while, then he got the hint to have her ignored and barred from the premises. She started trying to look up my friends list on FB, even to the point of getting hold of a friend's FB password and using his account to spy on me. She bothered every female on my list as to why and how they knew me, even to the point of bugging my maternal grandmother (who doesn't have any pictures on her account).

I said fuck it, backed up what data I needed, wiped Facebook, and started over with a false name. I only add those people I trust back on, and I don't post pics of myself and make it clear I don't want to be tagged in their photos either (how I long for a "make it impossible to tag me" feature on FB).

So far, it's worked. But if Zuckerberg and his buddies want me to go back to my real name, well, they can go fuck themselves, because I'll drop FB and any other social networking site altogether before I take that risk.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999756)

I'm just curious, why didn't you deal with her directly? What did she want?

what's it to you, are you stalking him?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999798)

She wanted him to acknowledge her existence.
Your suggested resolution would be counter-productive.

Tack Hammer (1)

trum4n (982031) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999894)

Works every time.

Re:Easy solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999610)

The problem comes from the fact that a lot of products and media companies have started having their own Facebook or Twitter page and give links to that instead of their own website.

What do I see when I try to view a Facebook page? A login page.

Way to BLOCK YOURSELVES FROM YOUR OWN VIEWERS, idiots.

Re:Easy solution (2)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999808)

And nothing of value was lost.

Additionally, using a facebook page over your own domain looks ghetto. Might as well be myspace, or geocities.

Re:Easy solution (4, Insightful)

AliasMarlowe (1042386) | more than 3 years ago | (#37000016)

The problem comes from the fact that a lot of products and media companies have started having their own Facebook or Twitter page and give links to that instead of their own website.

What do I see when I try to view a Facebook page? A login page.

Way to BLOCK YOURSELVES FROM YOUR OWN VIEWERS, idiots.

Alas, there appears to be more than enough morons who make FB accounts simply to access pages for Radio Rot or Dampers Diapers or Scandal TV. Those of us who refuse to access FB-based pages simply don't count. Firstly, we're invisible to these idiot companies. Secondly, they may be on FB specifically to catch the moron demographic, so we're irrelevant or would be unwelcome.

Re:Easy solution (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999614)

this just shows a lack of understanding. While google said they'd ensure the "real name" thing is followed, guess what? They've quietly dropped it altogether. I know plenty of people on g+ with pseudonyms, bullshit names, etc.

Re:Easy solution (2)

countertrolling (1585477) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999686)

Even easier solution

Use a real sounding fake name..

If you want to communicate a message far and wide, you do what you can to get it out.

Simple (5, Insightful)

Improv (2467) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999452)

Google is not obligated to join you on whatever your crusade is, no matter how worthy. There are real plusses and minuses to anonymity, and it is reasonable for a social network operator to either allow or disallow pseudonymity.

Re:Simple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999482)

And, depending on who you ask, really huge disadvantages to making your information public over something as widespread as the internet (especially if it's done by force).

Re:Simple (4, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999716)

If you'd ever had to deal with someone stalking you, you'd understand why having pseudonyms can be so important.

Additionally, I have a friend who insists her kids use a fake name, and she has the password to their account so she can check up on things if she believes anything is wrong. The fake-name is so that nobody can try to trace them in a phone book. And they've already been warned about the punishment for giving their real name out.

The fact that Google and other social networking sites can't seem to grasp this basic concept just surprises me.

Re:Simple (4, Insightful)

Alkonaut (604183) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999910)

Having my real name on fb/g+ only means one thing: people who don't know me can see my profile picture. Thats all. Why is this a problem regarding stalking? If one of my real friends (i.e. those that can see anything about me) is stalking me, then I have a real life problem, not an internet problem.

Kids on the other hand can't be trusted to judge who is a real friend and not, and also can't be expected to configure their privacy settings. That is why there are age limits on google, and your friend should probably tell her kids that.

Re:Simple (2)

PhxBlue (562201) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999782)

There are real plusses and minuses to anonymity ...

Just no Google Pluses. *Rimshot!*

Re:Simple (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999976)

Google is not obligated to join you on whatever your crusade is, no matter how worthy. There are real plusses and minuses to anonymity, and it is reasonable for a social network operator to either allow or disallow pseudonymity.

Another concern for someone like Google is what if they allow pseudonyms but screw it up and someone's real identity is revealed?

This is a much bigger problem for Google than it is for, say, slashdot, because Google's reach into the typical person's web usage is so much more expansive. If someone relies on their Google account being pseudonymous but Google's extensive suite of products connected to that account results in the individual's real identity being linked to the pseudonym, perhaps in a way that neither the user nor even Google might have predicted, what is the potential impact? For the typical basement dweller who just likes to use a kewl handle, basically none. But what if someone who has a serious need to separate their real identity from their on-line actions gets "outed" through some oversight by Google?

Google has stated that pseudonyms will eventually be supported, but not yet. I wonder if, in addition to the spam minimization benefits of real names which Google has cited, there might not also be concern about the possibility of offering pseudonymous accounts and then screwing it up in some non-obvious and potentially problematic way.

Keep in mind that Google has had some previous high-profile privacy-related gaffes which have damaged their reputation. It may be far safer for Google to require people to use their real names just to ensure that everyone using the system understands that they are not anonymous, and to encourage people who need anonymity to avoid using Google+ and related services.

It's only an abuse if you have something to hide (1, Insightful)

msobkow (48369) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999456)

Trolls, frauds, spammers, etc. hate having to identify themselves. Most people are proud of who they are and have no need to hide.

No one said social media sites had to be safe for activists under repressive regimes. In fact, were I in that situation, Facebook and Google+ would be the last place I'd want to be posting.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999510)

Trolls, frauds, spammers, etc. hate having to identify themselves.

So do a lot of people who are none of those things.

Most people are proud of who they are and have no need to hide.

Not wanting to attach your real name to every message you put on the Internet doesn't imply that you're ashamed of who you are or what you're saying.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (2)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999512)

On a long enough time line, EVERY ONE has something to hide.

That includes the high and mighty. Actually, it's probably even more true for the high and mighty.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999562)

Then you don't go posting about it online...
Free speech is the ability for you state your beliefs without having to worry about the government jailing you for saying it. Nothing about doing it anonymously. Free Speech is something to be valued and not used anonymously. If you are going to stand out and say something important then you should do it so people know who you are, and realize that even in a place of Free Speech there is risks.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999698)

Then you don't go posting about it online...

The problem is that you may say something that you have no reason to hide now, but every reason to hide in the future.

E.g. there may be no reason to hide the fact that you're not a big fan of Colonel X of the army now. But 3 months later, after a successful coup attempt, and rounding up of those critical of him, you may very well have every reason to want to hide it.

Anonymity means you don't have to worry about those future situations, be that an extreme such as the above, or something far more innocuous.

The down side is the 'greater internet fuckwad theory'.

I think Google+ is right in suggesting real names to keep out the fuckwads (even though there's plenty of pseudonyms already), who will still have their soapboxes on facebook, myspace, IRC, some random other forum, etc. Those who insist on anonymity whilst not being fuckwads may be condemned to those same places - that may be the price they pay.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999784)

THere is a place for anonymity and there is a place for disclosure. WE cant have everything straddle both sides. If you have a message that is sensitive, think long and hard about delivering it. While we like to think that freedom of speech as front line protection, its merely a last defense. If you piss off people in power, they will come at you, this is the natural order of the universe.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999796)

Sometimes knowledge of who a speaker is can poison the idea.

Being able to speak anonymously allows ideas to be judged on their merit rather than on the speakers attributes.

Many good ideas or discussions have been derailed by attacking the speaker instead of the idea.

Being able to protect yourself from people who will attack or vilify people with opposing view points is important, but it seems you want to life in a world where the strong can silence the weak with intimidation and violence, or in your words, where the weak should accept the risks of having and voicing a different opinion to the strong.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (4, Informative)

DragonFodder (712772) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999834)

Wrong, free speech has to have it inherently built in to allow for anonymous free speech. To go elsewhere is just as the article states (And I am NO fan of Micro$oft propaganda articles or studies) but in this case I think she is correct in that it is an authoritarian assertion of power over vulnerable people

Two quick examples of U.S. law the link anonymous speech directly to the Constitution Right to Free Speech that I found are "Talley v. California, 362 U.S. 60 (1960), the Court struck down a Los Angeles city ordinance that made it a crime to distribute anonymous pamphlets. In McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission, 514 U.S. 334 (1995), the Court struck down an Ohio statute that made it a crime to distribute anonymous campaign literature."

If you half an open mind, you might also want to check out the EFF site and try to look at it from another point of view. https://www.eff.org/issues/anonymity [eff.org]

Anonymity/pseudonimity is not purely for Trolls and F**wads.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

Chaonici (1913646) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999860)

I strongly disagree. Anonymity is a necessity for true freedom of speech, in order to ensure that people can speak their minds without fear of any consequences whatsoever. Anything else gives you a chilling effect on speech, wherein people may censor themselves because they don't want to be ostracized by their community, or fired from their job for going against the corporate political position.

What support do you have for your assertion that you should always attach your identity to anything important that you publicly say? Do you realize how many important historical figures have used anonymity and pseudonymity to publish their speech without fear of oppression?

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999942)

Free speech is the ability for you state your beliefs without having to worry about the government jailing you for saying it.

Or your employer firing your, a potential future employee not giving a job to you, or a lone lunatic deciding you need to die.

Humans are a social species living in interdependent societies, and as long as that remains true you need anonymity to have free speech.

Nothing about doing it anonymously. Free Speech is something to be valued and not used anonymously. If you are going to stand out and say something important then you should do it so people know who you are, and realize that even in a place of Free Speech there is risks.

Tough words, "jellomizer". Do you have the guts to stand behind them, or did you just spam the discussion with something even you think is unimportant?

Or is this one of those things that only apply to others?

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (4, Insightful)

waddgodd (34934) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999534)

So was Publius a troll, fraud, or a spammer? What about George Orwell? What about Mark Twain?

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1, Informative)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999720)

You know, "George Orwell" and "Mark Twain" weren't their real names, right?

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999790)

That's the point.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

wall0645 (1665631) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999822)

Pretty sure that was his point.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999818)

See the difference? They all used real names, just not their own. Google can't verify you are who who say you are. If Mark Twain went by the pseudonym "waddgodd" he never would have become famous.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999876)

Except that "Mark Twain" was a riverboating expression and not a name that any actual person would have given to their kid.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999970)

How about the Lesbian from Lebanon? This was a farce.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999558)

So, you send all your cheques in stamped and address stickered on ziplock baggies then, right? Because you have nothing to hide.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999578)

Yes, I want to hide my privacy. But I really don't care about that, because for me it simply changes my nickname. Instead of using a single 8 letter word with some numbers, now I use two nicknames put together. Like Jack Blacksheep, or Valentine Icebucket and so on.

Even when everyone used nicknames there were a lot of people using their real names JohnSmith and so on. It's all a matter of perspective. Until they ask for my SSN, I really don't care, when that happens, well ... there are other solutions to keep your privacy, and to be honest, you don't need a social network to keep up with the news or send email.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999594)

Yeah, after searching for your wiener (or your titties, as the case may be), I discovered you really do have nothing to hide.

Idiot

Let's try an experiment with words ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999630)

Repressive regimes want to identify all citizen speech. Most socities are proud to let their people act freely without need to monitor.

No one said social media sites had to be profitable for companies under a free society. In fact, were I in that situation, Facebook and Google+ would be the last place I'd want to be investing.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999674)

You're a fucking idiot. Go fling yourself from a bridge.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999722)

It's interesting how you speak as if you know everyone's situation and intentions. What if someone merely likes being anonymous (but isn't a troll, a scam artist, or whatever else you may call them)? What if it gives them a sense of security? What if they simply find it fun? I'd suggest that you stop pretending to be a mind reader. Oh, and there is such a thing as corruption and human error. That may be why some people wish to be anonymous as well.

Furthermore, I couldn't care less about trolls. I personally think that people should get thicker skin.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999816)

And trolls DO serve a function, if nothing to remind everyone that not everyone else is interested in civil discourse. A troll is still a human, as it were.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999788)

The problem is that you may feel that you have nothing to hide, but you may not realize that you have divulged information that can be used to do you harm. Posted a picture of you at some location? That proves you were in that location. Linked to your mom on Facebook? She may have her maiden name somewhere in HER profile, frequently right up on top in parentheses so her buddies from before her marriage can find her. That means that a very common security question is now in the hands of whoever can do a little research. The possibilities are limited only by the amount of data that could be mined from what you put up.

I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I'll tell you, I'd prefer to not have to worry about someone using information that they gleaned from me to do something that could cause me or my family harm.

I suppose the answer is to not use social networking, and to a certain degree, that is fair. You don't need it for your job and no one is mandating that you use it. However, it does deprive you of potentially useful method of socializing and networking. Obviously, the lack of privacy is due to your own postings and the needs of the hosting company to make money on your profile. This means that on two counts, you are screwed if you wanted to ensure your own privacy, but again, being worried about that does not make you somehow a person who is ashamed of himself.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (2)

mijelh (1111411) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999800)

I've got a lot of things to hide, only they are not illegal.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999870)

Same here.

not that /. is one of them, but my handle here is apposite.

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

notmyusualnickname (1221732) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999886)

*wince*

Or it would be, if I'd logged in on this box...

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999902)

Everyone has something to hide.
It's called their identity.
Something that can be stolen.
Something that can be overwhelmed by the vastness that is the Internet.

Or have you not heard about people who let facts get away from them, where they run rampant around the Internet on an unstoppable circle of chain mail, and searchable archives.

http://www.snopes.com/inboxer/medical/shergold.asp [snopes.com]

People and companies who have to change their phones, move, etc. ... and THOSE people don't make telemarketing war dialers for a living!

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (1)

Pf0tzenpfritz (1402005) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999934)

Who left the door to the nothing-to-hide-nothing-to-fear station open? It has to be locked at any time! Now see, what happened!

Re:It's only an abuse if you have something to hid (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999998)

Trolls, frauds, spammers, etc. hate having to identify themselves. Most people are proud of who they are and have no need to hide.

Dude, do you have curtains? What are you hiding?
(from an old slashdot comment I can't be bothered to find)

Basically: no one has a right to my privacy. I do not need to argue whether I have something to hide or not.
You need to argue why you need to know whatever it is that is none of your business.
And if your best argument is "why would you want to hide that?", then we're back to square one (response: "why would you want to know that?"). And if your argument is "you must be hiding something": none of your $PROFANITY business.

A good reason would be something relating to me, not to you (or your need to know something about me).

PS: Posting this anonymously is quite the icing on the cake :)

Workaround (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999468)

A smooth site that lets you generate a random "real" name.
http://randomname.alwaysdata.net/ Happy hiding!

Yes (1, Insightful)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999470)

Pseudonymity is such a core part of Internet culture. "Real names" are a very recent artifact of companies trying to monetize the web. It offers no value to users.

Re:Yes (3, Insightful)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999638)

It offers no value to users.

This is demonstrably false. You can say that pseudonymity has great value. You can say that to you, it has vastly more value than "real names". However, to say that real names offer to value to users, whose goal is to connect primarily with people they know in real life, is either ignorant or defiantly stupid.

Re:Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999772)

In my experience, the wider anonymity of a pseudonym is no barrier to connecting with people one knows. I have no idea why you hold your stated beliefs.

Re:Yes (1)

swillden (191260) | more than 3 years ago | (#37000034)

In my experience, the wider anonymity of a pseudonym is no barrier to connecting with people one knows. I have no idea why you hold your stated beliefs.

Honestly? Everyone you knew in high school 25 years ago knows the on-line handle you use now? Everyone you've worked with knows your on-line handle? For that matter, all of your family members, including the cousins that you only see a couple of times a year know what on-line handle you use?

You're free to say that you aren't really interested in connecting with those people anyway... and that's just fine for you. But many, many people very much are interested in connecting with those people, and using their real name, plus providing information about where they've lived, where they went to school, who they've worked for, etc. is going to make it much easier for those connections to be made.

Re:Yes (1)

ToadMan8 (521480) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999678)

I find product reviews made by different people who have done other product reviews on disparate types of goods much more valuable than product reviews on a website where users can make up names. I can think of other examples where, as a consumer of products and information on the Web, I appreciate the use of real names. Sending someone money would be an example, instead of sending money to some random email address.

Re:Yes (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999850)

And this points out why we should be able to have public and private personas, but they dont necessarily have to be embodied by the same service. Its FINE if Google+ insists on real names, use other services for your privacy needs.

You have that backwards (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999776)

Most of you are too young to remember, but once upon a time there were no pseudonyms on the Internet [google.com] . All schools, companies, and organizations on the Internet voluntarily adhered to a policy where each user's online identity was easily linked to their real world identity. It was staunchly enforced by admins who believed the net would fall apart into a morass of misbehavior if people were allowed to post anonymously.

There were a few people running their own servers who bucked the trend, but it wasn't until AOL joined USENET that pseudonyms became a fact of life. AOL allowed each account to have up to 5 usernames, to facilitate families sharing a single AOL account. Obviously these extra usernames were quickly taken up by people wishing to post things anonymously online, which was good for free speech. But not surprisingly, spam was invented shortly thereafter.

So it's actually anonymity which is the "recent artifact". All that's happening now is that the pendulum is starting to swing the other way as netizens struggle to figure out the best balance between real names and pseudonyms.

They'll get my (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999478)

"real" name when I'm arrested, put in gitmo, and water boarded for participating in DDoS attack protesting the "real" name policy.

to hell with the internet (4, Insightful)

FudRucker (866063) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999518)

i am not putting my real name & address or photo on any social networking website, because i know there are some people out there that would milk it for all its worth as far as identity theft or blackmail or just plain meanness to make me look bad,

(besides i do a good enough job of making myself look bad and i dont want any help from anyone else)

Re:to hell with the internet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999652)

This.

Until we stop hearing about mass data loss every other day in the headlines, why would I want to provide real data?

Hey, I know you (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999950)

You're the guy who owns that gourmet hamburger restaurant chain, right?

Dropping a letter from your name may help you hide from Google but not from me!

Re:to hell with the internet (1)

FuzzyHead (86261) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999972)

(besides i do a good enough job of making myself look bad and i dont want any help from anyone else)

You are obviously unaware of the concept plausible deniability.

Google can do what they want, but it is a bad idea (2)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999526)

That is, there is a place (and a reason) to use real names on line. It reduces flame wars etc.

On the other hand, there are MANY MANY MORE reasons to not use real names.

The question is, which is the bigger market size? Which do people want? From what I can tell, the far majority of people do not want to use real names.

Frankly, if you want to make a forum safe for kids, then yes, real names would be appropriate. But I am not a child. I can take an insult. My privacy and protection is far more important to me, and to most people.

The idea to use real names for a general forum for use by everyone is an insane idea. Companies and corporations want it, people don't. Build a website based on what the users want, not the corporations, governments. etc.

I would love to use Google+ - if they let me keep my privacy. I won't use it as is.

Re:Google can do what they want, but it is a bad i (1)

dward90 (1813520) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999740)

Real names make it easy to find people you know on a social network, and to remember the identities of people you connect with on them. Social networks are most valuable for "loose connections" like friends from grade school or non-immediate relatives. You might be interested in their lives, but can't commit the energy or mental capacity to identifying them in the first place or remembering the association function between their pseudonym and their identity.

You or others like you might not care about weak social ties, but (evidently) a vast majority of computer users do.

Microsoft is rolling out a new product. (1)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999530)

It is going to be Windows Genuine Pseudonym Advantage (tm). Will be release at 7 trim levels. From Starter Edition to Ultimate to "All your bases are belong to us" level. Gartner is releasing a Total Cost of Owenership study. It got advance notice about this product because it a member of the Windows Genuine Shill program.

These policies are why I set my profiles private (1)

lazn (202878) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999538)

It is because of these policies that I set my profiles to private and not searchable, and why I don't put my picassa pictures to public. I'd share more if I didn't have to provide my real name, but as it is, I share as little as possible and still have the services be usable.

NO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999544)

Seriously?! When you have the option to opt-out (as in not to use them) you are really asking if it is an abuse of power?

Let me clarify what would be an abuse of power: them pointing a gun to your head making you register to those services and making you use your real name.

It's that what happens? No? Then what was the question again?

Sometimes I think people just have too much idle time and boring lives not worth living to wonder about such "predicaments"........

Not A Simple Issue (1)

glorybe (946151) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999548)

If one lives under a reasonable government that is not prone to snatching people up and applying torture or death with trivial reasons for so doing it is one thing. But if you are under the thumb of very repressive regimes it is quite another problem. For Americans we can not assume that half way reasonable forms of justice and government will always continue. Attached to the issues of being anonymous there also resides the issue of making all communications transparent. After all if Mr. Smith can encrypt materials and Mr. Jones sends them down the wires then the identity of the sender is obscured. So the government that insists upon using the right name will also insist that they can easily read all communications. I don't know about all states but in at least some states in the US it is a felony to use a false name if business is transacted. As long as no money changes hands or the communications are not designed to cause money to change hands then you can call yourself by any name. Take one penny and you can be in the soup.

Nametags (1)

Lysander7 (2085382) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999554)

Unless requiring people to wear nametags at social events is an "abuse of power" as well. They're providing a service and thereby dictate the terms upon which people use it. Don't like it? Don't use it.

It's sad how people feel entitled to dictate how others run their business. If that business has a requirement you don't like, suck it up or don't do business with them. It isn't rocket science.

Re:Nametags (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999872)

Unless requiring people to wear nametags at social events is an "abuse of power" as well. They're providing a service and thereby dictate the terms upon which people use it. Don't like it? Don't use it.

It's sad how people feel entitled to dictate how others run their business. If that business has a requirement you don't like, suck it up or don't do business with them. It isn't rocket science.

On the other hand, Facebook is the only game in town, when it comes to social networks with everyone being on it as one of their features. I don't like it, so I don't use it, but it means I'm out of the loop on what's happening in my would be social network. Sure friends, long lost or not, should use searching skillz to find me and email or whatever to invite me to whatever, but often they don't.

I've held off for quite a while, but I'm afraid I might cave one day.

You say it's sad when we bitch about the abuse of power by the goddamn ruler of the worlds motherfucking defacto playground.

I don't think that's a very nice thing to say.

Re:Nametags (1)

ah.clem (147626) | more than 3 years ago | (#37000032)

At social events where name tags are required, I make a name up; it's so much more fun that way.

Verified user (1)

ubergeek65536 (862868) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999564)

Why not just allow the users to choose to use a verified profile or not and then decide if they want to communicate with unverified profiles?

Slippery slope (4, Insightful)

Iamthecheese (1264298) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999590)

Widespread requirements by social media to give one's "real name" are, on the surface, only harmful to those who would prefer to remain anonymous but would rather give up anonymity than the utility of these sites.

One may simply say "if you want to remain anonymous don't give up your information. There's no one forcing you to use these sites" But there's a side-effect of this requirement.

Like it or not "what a lot of people do" always defines what is okay and good and normal. to most people. It makes it much easier to pass laws that forbid anonymity in many areas offline and on. So even though I don't use facebook, google plus, or other such services specifically because I prefer to remain anonymous, this "real name" crap is indirectly harming me.

Re:Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999710)

I agree. It's like if people were saying "You don't like your elected official? Well then don't vote!"

Re:Slippery slope (3, Insightful)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999812)

Exactly. My non-use of social media has made me (more of?) an antisocial weirdo to most people. Facebook has redefined social norms, and even relies on the erosion of humanity's concept of privacy to grow.

What about people living under repressive regimes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999596)

I understand the need to prevent anonymity on the net, but there are certain cases where anonymity is the only way to fight for your rights without getting caught by the bad guys.

My Pseudomyn is Blocked by Google+ (1)

drewzhrodague (606182) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999604)

My profile with a pseudonym, Drew from Zhrodague, is blocked by Google+, despite my repeated requests. I've been posting on the Internet for a long time as such, and even my resume, business cards, printed authorship credits, and other online profiles identify me as such. I'd love to use Google+, but there is currently no way for me to do that. I do not use my real birth name online, for obvious reasons.

I had a feeling (2)

Sczi (1030288) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999608)

When facebook was still .edu only and decided to open up, one of the details I learned (wasn't on it) was that most people use their real name. I thought "oh there's no way that will fly once they open up", but they had already achieved a certain critical mass where new sign ups just figured that's the way it works, and that's the way it is, so they went along with it. I could almost see it in the .edu only context, but it still astounds me to this day that relatives of mine who will bitch mercilessly about the man trying to get over on them and whatnot will post their whole life up for the world to see under their real name. Nothing GOOD ever happens from people finding you by your name, it's usually something crappy. Like if you've got a really popular online persona and you apply for a job, you can point to sourceforge or whatever and take credit for the good. But when has an HR person ever went scrounging for an applicant's real name, found pics of them drunk and pissing off a bridge, and given them the job because of it. The disconnect from people who seem like they should care a lot, according to their own standards, is striking.

1st Amendment Rights (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999612)

The 1st amendment grants freedom of speech and hence, the freedom to criticize. Part of doing that is being able to use anonymity to protect yourself. It's a government protected right. Of course, Facebook and and Google+ are free services and if you don't like what you get, you don't need to pay or participate. Facebook and Google+ also happen to be organizations with constituencies and customer bases that number in the millions. In many ways, they are like small governments, but without the same responsibilities. It's a very scary and dangerous situation and they wield a lot of power. It is not a social network of the people, by the people, for the people, it's their own profit making motives. I think at some point in the future, (within the next 10 years), government will start regulation rights to online access, including social media.
-www.awkwardengineer.com [awkwardengineer.com]

My Real Name is Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999640)

And My Wife's name is Goa Tseru.

It doesn't go away... (1)

aarongadberry (1232868) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999676)

I remember a slashdot article some time back about the permanence of the internet. I have friends that have been unable to 'start over' because of this very fact. Combining that reality with a requirement for real names is dangerous. Some comment you made on Facebook 25 years before will impact your ability to get a job, run for public office, etc.

Those with power favour - collectivists even more (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999680)

The rhetoric against anonymity on the internet with all its wide-ranging arguments boils down to a single mechanism of action - that the person who would otherwise say something anonymously should now be fearful of punishment (formally or informally) from the majority.

This means typically those who control public perception (usually the majority, although the media may have a different political pov. than the population) will favour enforced real names, whilst the minority will be in favour of it. All in the guise of improving something or whatever, but really with the motivation of either rooting out the opposition and making them feel shamed and harassed, or, saying things the majority finds unpalatable.

On top of this you have a layer of collectivism vs individualism - collectivists believe that the individual should never be able to put the collective at risk or cause wide feelings of upset, hence the collectivist will always want to be able to direct collectivist anger at those individuals. You can only direct that anger if you have a named target.

Since the world is currently moving in a collectivist direction, in spite of how insane and sick that is, it's no surprise that we see much more of this.

This is what Google and Facebook seem to ignore (3, Insightful)

iteyoidar (972700) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999682)

The author got a lot right in this article. The thing about using real identities is the effects are asymmetrical, it's not some egalitarian system that always improves discourse. The people in positions of power, authority, privilege, etc. are the ones who determine what is and isn't acceptable to begin with, so obviously they have nothing to lose by being identified. When we say "civility" we mean don't really mean "civility" according to everyone, just according to whoever defines the status quo. There's a reason Facebook is now mostly parents posting baby pictures and employers doing corporate promotions, that's all its useful for when everyone can see it and everyone can identify everyone else who uses it.

I wish they'd deconflate identities (3, Interesting)

genomancer (588755) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999684)

What I call someone, what they call themselves, and their real identity are three different things. Why force them to be the same?

A) if Google/Facebook only grant accounts (or verified account status, as others have suggested) to people who disclose their personal identity... that's the company's choice. It certainly makes me more likely to use their service (for the obvious spam/troll prevention reasons).

B) but there's no reason they need to publish that information for anyone else. They could then let my friend Robert Snee sign up for an account, choose his public name to be "Dread Pirate Snee" and then, most importantly, let me override his name and avatar with one of my own choice... probably Bob Snee with a picture of something other than his newborn baby.

C) And if Rob wants to use a total psueodonym but still accept his friend request/add him to a circle... he'll need to tell me in private "who he is" and prove it to me. Possibly by *choosing* to reveal his google/FB-verified real-identity. If he doesn't, I'm not going to let him into my friends/circles... which is the difference between social network-based sites and open communication tools like email/forums which have global acceptance for historical/practical reasons.

G

whee! (1)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999982)

Let me just hop onto anonops and ask for the Annonymous cert. I'm sure nothing bad will come from that.
probably signed by GoDaddy...

Other reasons for being pseudonymous (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999702)

While I understand the reasoning that people are nastier when anonymous, I don't think this is really valid for Facebook. I admit I use a pseudonym, but every single friend I have on there knows who I am in real life, so I'm still not anon to people who give a shit about.

Facebook is horrible for meeting new people and having discussions with strangers. It's much more geared towards friends in real life, so really, the anon-makes-asshole argument goes out the window.

I'm pseudonymous so that shithead employers and freaks from my past can't find me, and also to protect myself in the case where some idiot tags a photo or posts something incriminating on my wall. It has nothing to do with wanting to be an ass, as everyone who I interact with knows who I am anyway!

Welcome to the PC BBS scene, circa 1989. (2)

faedle (114018) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999708)

I'm reminded of the "Real Names" policies on many of the BBSes (especially the early IBM PC-based ones) of the pre-Internet era. It wasn't about any real advantage, percieved or not, with using real names in online discorse.

It was solely about a petty dictator and his fiefdom, and maintaining some sense of "control."

I now view Facebook and Google with the same pity and indignation as I viewed the dickish SysOps of the pre-Internet era, who were more worried about somebody stepping on their dick than building a community. Congratulations.

Duh (2)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999714)

So Usenet was established about 30 years ago and the author is figuring out, just now, that what you post online is persistent?

I really don't expect people to be omniscient but isn't this a level of ignorance that should exclude him from commenting on online privacy issues?

I mean, what very basic thing will he learn NEXT week that causes another tectonic shift in his belief system?

Re:Duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#37000020)

Almost as astoundingly ignorant as your failure to notice that the author is female.

Your critique is also baseless, as the point the author was making about online persistence is that it doesn't mirror real life, despite Google and Facebook's claims to the contrary.

What is your "real name" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999718)

Really, what is it?

I know many people from non english countries who have "english" names.
Or they have different names depending on your relationship to them.

My real name may be
Johnathon Smith Jr.

But the following may also be my "real name"
Johnathon Smith
J Smith
John
Jonnie
Son
Jr
Dad
Grandmaster B

They're all "real names" and they could even be my legal name in many circumstances.

Finally pseudo-anonymity does have some value. Some great literary works may have never been published, save for the use of a pen name.

What if you are unlucky? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999820)

What if my name really is IP Freely?

Re:What if you are unlucky? (1)

V. P. Winterbuttocks (2246736) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999946)

If you think that's bad...

Vernor Vinge would agree (1)

tekrat (242117) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999824)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/True_Names [wikipedia.org]

If you never have read this book, you need to drop everything and get this right now by any means necessary and read it.

No problems here (1)

kakyoin01 (2040114) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999864)

I personally have no problems using my real name on Facebook and Google+, but I I also have not had any problems doing so yet. If I said any more, I would be obviously too biased and ignorant to contribute to intelligent conversation here.

That said, I look forward to seeing where this goes and who will take what stance.

Only 1 site gets my real name (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999880)

My real name is on LinkedIn. The rest of the internet, I use 2 pseudonyms.

So either it's professional and you can find my CV on LinkedIn, or it's friendsonly and elsewhere with a fitting pseudonym. I'll use one for IT/business related websites and another for lifestyle related websites. One of my pseudonyms can be made to look like a real name, and that's what I used on Facebook. Works, because friends have found me there.

Real names on FidoNet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36999912)

Way back in the 1980s there was a Macintosh discussion group on FidoNet. Most people used their real names.

A person nicknamed Ska Ninja came in and used the same handle he'd used on other groups or networks where using a handle was expected.

He got a lot of peer pressure to use his real name. Eventually he conceded but I don't think he was happy about it.

Real names, psuedonymns, or anonymous names - ideally the choice should generally be driven by the needs of the forum and allowed to happen organically.

-Anonymous Coward

It is UTTERLY unenforable and thus irrelevant (1)

xevioso (598654) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999924)

I posted this on the Atlantic, but here it is for /." What people are really failing to understand here is that Google's real name policy is utterly unenforceable, and thus, irrelevant. When I joined Google+ the other day, I used my real name, not because I had to, but because I wanted to. It would make my friends able to find me easier, and vice versa. If I wanted to use a psuedonym, to use Google+, I could easily do so by not using one like "3L33TPoZtR" and instead use a REAL NAME psuedonym like John Smith. How would Google ever know John Smith is not me? Of course they never would. People will just start using fake names that Google can't show are fake to become anonymous. Will they gain the benefits of using Google+ by doing so? Probably not so much, but the point is it's unenforceable. No one seems to talk about this. Also, there's a very good reason for using Psuedonym...if you are a DJ, for example, people know you by your DJ name. Say, DJ Aphrodite or Kaskade. How ludicrous would it be for Google+ to require DJ Aphrodite to use his real name, when no one knows what that is? How can he invite his friends into his circle to listen to his music of he has to use a real name?

Revolutionary shmevolutionary. (1, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 3 years ago | (#36999980)

I call BS.

"Anonymity" is a nonsense commodity generated by the information age, and which has had much emo-currency invested in it by those with vested interests, but which is a complete sham.

Until the age of the telephone, anonymity was a rare and unusual thing.
You were known by what you said, and your words carried meaning. Because of the general immobility of the population, these words hung around you like a cloud, which then made up (along with deeds) your 'reputation'. This could last GENERATIONS.

Like playing with a loaded gun, people generally realized that they needed to be cautious with their words, lest it boomerang unexpectedly on them or their descendants.

Are we better off today?

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