Google+ does not seem to allow pseudonymous users. This is not good; there are several good reasons for people to be pseudonymous, most of them anything but nefarious*.

A pseudonymous name is not an unknown. A pseudonymous identity is more like a separate facet of a person than an anonymous cloak; an identity that persists sometimes over many years. Put it this way: for those of you who have met me in person, "Jan Moren" is of course more real than any pseudonymous name, but for most of you it really doesn't matter what the label is. My "real" name doesn't make me any more real than any other label. For many people, their pseudonymous identity is a lot more well-known and respected than their birth name happens to be.

Entertainers are famous for doing this (Stephanie Germanotta, anyone? Camille Javal? Vincent Furnier?), and many, many authors use pen names that are far more well known than their own. But there's many good reasons for "ordinary people" to keep a pseudonymous identity online, including, but not limited to avoiding harassment; not expose family members; keep your professional and private life separated among others. Janet Stemwedel at "Ethics and Science" has written a lot more (and a lot better) about this than I can, so please take a look at her post below.

I like G+. In fact, this is the first social network thing I've warmed up to, and I enjoy it immensely. But Google absolutely needs to allow pseudonymous users. They're going to accommodate companies' brands** and organizations — neither of which are people in any real sense — and it would be very easy for them to allow pseudonyms for private users as well.


* I've always wanted to use "nefarious".

** A couple of actual company name is "Seven and I Holdings" and "PepsiCo."; what's the chance they'll be allowed to use "SevenEleven" and "Pepsi" (not to mention "7Up", "IrndBru") as user names?
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