I have been at last made aware of Google+'s requirement that G+ users reveal their "real names". This wasn't to my knowledge in the ToS I read and agreed to when I registered for G+, which I admittedly scanned, but which looked like every other Google ToS I've read; I never saw the G+ specific "Terms of Content" until after I had registered (shame on you Google).

I cannot abide that requirement, therefore, I will probably shortly be deleting this account.

The requirement for use of "real names" is sexist. The practice of using pseudonyms is enormously preferred by women, for purposes of safety, privacy, and leveling the playing field by making others take their words at face value. The requirement of the use of "real names" is privileged.

The requirement for use of "real names" is also culturist. There are peoples with the US and without among whom it is culturally normative to use different names with different social spheres. Whether it is bicultural people with both English names and names in another language (e.g. "Hebrew name", "African name", "Chinese name"), or artists with pen names/stage names, or even just those of us Scadians who are called something very different by our friends and lovers than by our families and neighbors, there are many subcultures with the US -- to say nothing of the rest of the world -- in which people do not have only one name and/or may have object to being expected to divulge such privileged information as their personal name online.

The very idea that one has one, real name is a parochial White, middle-class, American assumption. The idea one should have one, real name, to make everything all neat and tidy and obvious is colonialist thinking. The idea that one should get to enforce such a rule, paving over other people's cultural practices, in the name of stamping out criminals (spammers) is really, really gross.

One of those cultures, by the way, that this requirement offends against is "Internet user". Google, I've been on the internet longer that you have, and I'll remind you that the custom of using nyms on the internet -- born originally of limited email address namespaces at individual institutions -- was originally the predominant one. I preferred the internet that way. It had that much more privacy -- privacy, not security -- baked right in. For someone to be able to find you, or to recognize that you were the author of something, they had to acquire a privileged token: your nym. Nym-identity mappings weren't secret, but they weren't flaunted; they were circulated in communities, especially face-to-face. They were drapes across the windows of the virtual world. They made that world more decorous in many ways, and that is why I keep to spaces in which that is the norm.

I had so hoped that G+ would be one such space, providing an alternative to Facebook which for all the foregoing I effectively do not and presumably will never use.

The requirement for use of "real name" also prevents the use of G+ for creative purposes such as role-play accounts. The application designers of G+ might want to talk to the folks at Dreamwidth for a discussion of some of the creative, legitimate, prosocial uses to which pseudonymous accounts are put.

It is my hope that Google will see the error of its ways and change its policy in this matter, before I delete this account. Livejournal and Dreamwidth would no doubt be happy to explain how else one might limit spammer accounts, if that is indeed Google's motive.

This post is public. Pass it on as you see fit. After all, as things stand, you won't have the opportunity to read it here much longer.
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