Shared publicly  - 
 
About names, Google Plus's "Community Standards" document [1] says "Use the name your friends, family, or co-workers usually call you."

Evidently this is not how Google is actually handling matters. [2] [3] [4] Quite the contrary, they appear to be disabling the Google Plus accounts of people who clearly and demonstrably set up their profile under the name by which they are best known in multiple areas of life.

This is unjust, and those of us not directly affected by it are obliged to note that it's unjust. A Google Plus that reserves to itself the right to capriciously disable the participation of people in my social circles, despite thorough evidence that their profile name meets Google Plus's declared standards, is not an entity I am inclined to trust.

In fact, the preponderance of evidence is that even the kind of flexible "real names" policy that Google (falsely) claims to be following acts to systematically disadvantage vast numbers of people--ranging from the marginalized and the disadvantaged to people with the misfortune to be named something common like "John Smith." [5]

If you are enjoying Google Plus and you think this isn't your fight, you're mistaken. Someone you care about on this service--one or more of the people you joined in order to interact with--is now, or will be, adversely affected by Google's carelessly-considered policies and feckless behavior in this matter. They may not be sharing this fact with you, but it's true nonetheless. You owe your friends something better than your silence.

What Google Plus actually needs is a policy that discourages identity hacking--sockpuppetry, imposter games, and other exercises in bad faith. Google needs to get out of the business of deciding, on a planet comprising nearly 200 legal jurisdictions and innumerable cultures and subcultures, what particular strings of characters constitute "real" names. Google is no more equipped to adjudicate this on a global basis than they are prepared to administer livestock inheritance law in Ulan Bator.

It's been observed by many people that when you're getting nifty web services for free, you're not the customer, you're the product. Google has a chance here to do better than that by its users. Let's see if they do.

[1] http://www.google.com/support/accounts/bin/answer.py?answer=107107

[2] http://infotrope.net/2011/07/22/ive-been-suspended-from-google-plus/

[3] http://infotrope.net/bio/my-name/

[4] http://infotrope.net/2011/07/24/more-comments-on-google-plus-and-names/

[5] http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Who_is_harmed_by_a_%22Real_Names%22_policy%3F
66
114
John Chu's profile photoGreen Knight's profile photoBrenda Curtis's profile photoDaniel Keys Moran's profile photo
23 comments
 
There are a number of suggestions around pseudonymity there. Go thou and vote.
 
I think there's a decent chance Google will figure this out. If not ... shrug. Sometime in the next few years somebody else will figure it out. (Or facebook will get its privacy act together, and G+ will fade.)
 
I did see it and I have in fact registered my views there. I am getting a little tired of the frequency with which early responses to Google Plus posts are "send feedback" or "go to this place and vote." I have the old-fashioned idea that some issues are worth having a conversation about.

I think Google is a remarkable company that employs a lot of very smart and humane people; I've seen them being thoughtful and helpful all over this early instantiation of this service. That does not mean I feel obliged to always privilege Google, Inc.'s algorithm- and data-driven heuristics over the venerable tradition of human beings talking with one another.
 
At least I have documented use of my name back through '86. Gilmoure is my SCA name. 
 
I have seen a number of extended conversations on this topic on G+ - more than on any one other topic, in fact. But my "go thou and vote" was aimed at the reading population at large, and not directed at you, PNH. Sorry if I sounded preachy. - pk
 
Will: Feel free to set up whatever petitions you like. But if you keep posting sneering comments along the lines of "Talk is all very well, but what about action," I'm going to keep deleting them.

You are not Khai Drogo, and we are not going to crush Google and hear the lamentations of their women. What we are going to do is have a conversation about it. You can take your dorm-room theatrics (which I have now deleted twice, thus demonstrating my compassion) and stuff them somewhere picturesque.
 
What gives me hope is that if Google would just follow the policy they laid out, they'd be most of the way to something decent.
 
They already have a nickname/othername field in all profiles: they absolutely know this is A Thing. They have the easy capability to allow you to mark one of those as your use-name, either dropping your true (by whichever standard they choose) to visible only after multiple clicks or (much better) visible to only those permitted to see it controlled by their perfect for this purpose info-visibility tools.

I suspect they're getting overly cautious legal advice.
 
"What Google Plus actually needs is a policy that discourages =identity hacking=--sockpuppetry, imposter games, and other exercises in bad faith." Precisely. I had had a moment of "ho-hum, the 'name' argument again," then I saw a post about the need for the right to anonymity, and I realized that it IS an important issue … but there can be problems with anonymity too (it's a Known Fact that some people become abusive when they think they're anonymous, for example.). But you hit the nail on the head. People need to be able to be =who they are=--a person's name is what that person says it is. Unless, as they saying goes, they are adopting a particular name in order to commit fraud or other illegal acts. I honestly don't know how a communications company can patrol or enforce this, but I do think it's the center of the matter.
 
"acts to systematically disadvantage vast numbers of people--ranging from the marginalized and the disadvantaged to people with the misfortune to be named something common like "John Smith." [5]"

this is a potentially sneaky sentence that is hard to ascertain what they are implying
 
Isn't this a variation on a weapons policy? In a civilized weapons policy, the definition of weapon is "any object used with intent to harm a person or property." ANY object. A hand grenade, properly peace bonded and responsibly carried, is not a weapon by this definition, but a popsicle stick wielded in anger is. I'm not certain how one ever legislates behavior, but intent to commit fraud is the only thing Google has any right to attempt to discourage. Any name, including your real one, used with intent to commit fraud is an unacceptable username. Any name used in good faith to represent who you are is a perfectly fine username.

Let's not waste our time applying systemic "solutions" to intrinsic problems.
 
I fully agree that on one hand, there needs to be a certain degree of freedom as to what you want to call yourself; on the other, on the +Robert Scoble post linked above, one of the early comments is by someone who's set up their 'name' to be their full name followed by 'ProjectCarTV'.

Is this acceptable naming convention, to use your username as a marketing opportunity? On an instinctual level I don't think this should be acceptable, and yet I'm trying to work out where the line is between this form of branding and a writer's pen name (a brand in its own right)?
 
+Rob Haines true. and that's when actually looking at the profile helps instead of just blocking. My friend Ryan uses Ryan IT Lab as his name. He does'nt use his social profile for business at all except as a this is what I do thing. Like mine says I have a pet sitting business. Sharing what we do is appropriate. My nick could easily be BrendaDogSitter. As long as I am not spamming people with links to my website and constantly trying to drive traffic to my site, what harm does it do? I'd really be more comfortable being able to use a nickname for social interaction. My real full name is a what I use for business. When I come here I like to take my shoes off and relax. Switching from Brenda Curtis, work mode to BrendaCrazyDogLady is like taking off my shoes. A transition from one area of my life to another.
 
I'm hoping this account survives. My problem with Google is that you can't enter in a dialogue with them - only join user-moderated forums. If a company has a proper helpdesk, you get at least some feedback. 
 
I want them to sort this out, for the benefit of both my friends with names other than their 'legal' name, and my friends whose real life job means they either have less ability to express opinions on line, or more desire to, than me. But I do love the fact that Google Plus is relatively clutter-free, and it is likely that a hard line on pseudonymity helps with that. So I am not quite sure what the solution is.
 
I know from Usenet days that using a real name is no guarantee of civilised online behaviour, also that many people who are pseudonymous are, nevertheless, model netizens. So basically it's complicated. I would, however, have thought that an innocent until proved guilty policy might be a better option.

My dilemma -- and I'm sure I'm not unique -- is that family friends and colleagues don't all call me the same thing. So which name do I choose for G+? I had hoped that the circles would mean I could have one account to communicate with everyone in an appropriate manner and potentially that ought to be possible, but it isn't at the moment.
 
"an innocent until proved guilty policy might be a better option."
amen!
If they do no evil leave them alone!
Now Dr.'s who dare call themselves Dr. are getting booted.
OY!
 
Thanks for stating this so clearly. This deserves high prominence.
Add a comment...