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was EFF's declaration of victory in the #nymwars premature?

Interesting discussion threads via:

+Jillian C. York at and
+Liz Henry at
+Eva Galperin at
+Kee Hinckley at
+Alex Bayley at
+Gary Walker at
+Sai . at
+Mike Swift at
+Pete Cashmore at

There are at least two related polls up:
+Jon Pincus at
+Paul Allen at

And elsewhere:
- Garidin Winslow on Diaspora at, with some screenshots of tweets by Skud
- NishantK at
- on Hacker News at

My comment:

Can Skud call herself Skud? Can Kaliya IdentityWoman call herself Kaliya or IdentityWoman, whichever she prefers? Have Bradley and Vic apologized to them and BugGrrl and everybody else whose accounts have been suspended? If not, I agree with +Jamie Zawinski that EFF's declaration of victory is premature.

Also some great points by +Alex Bayley, +Kee Hinckley and others
In a shamefully credulous statement, they say: Proponents of pseudonymity scored a major victory today, when Google executive Vic Gundotra revealed at the Web 2.0 Summit that social networking service...
Tinfoil 2.0's profile photopeter k's profile photoJustin du coeur's profile photoSebastian Hanlon's profile photo
Actually -- maybe just acting all pleased that they're about to do it will be good pressure for them to do it ...
Thanks for sending us over, the thread there is covering a lot of the bases.
I don't think it was premature. The EFF said also:

"Though it is not yet clear what those features will look like, we are cautiously optimistic that Google+ will do the right thing to ensure that all of its users feel free to express themselves on the site."

I think that covers it, and we'll see how this pans out in the next few months. We shouldn't expect immediate application of these ideas as some sort of litmus test as to whether Google is making those changes or whether the EFF is being premature.

It's a victory in that they are beginning to talk about the possibility and make plans in that direction - versus outright ignoring it.
We shall see. From what I've seen, VIc's statement today doesn't seem substantially different than Bradley's statement a couple of months ago. +Alex Ross it sounds like your expectations are pretty low ("Will we get all of that? Probably not.") so I guess we have different definitions of victory.
I'm not sure an apology is warranted, any more than apologising to under 18s when they are allowed on.
trio u
Well, EFF may be premature in declaring victory, but it may be too late for G+. I have explained the situation to my clients, and i had to recommend that they not use G+ because Diaspora is waiting in the wings. This brought up whole conversations about privacy and the upshot is that they are en masse (actually i don't have a mass of clients, but they are vocal and telling others) moving to machine based email (Thunderbird) and not going to sign up for G+. I believe i was honest in my evaluation that Google has dropped the ball on the issue of trust. They will now have to sell us again that Google will Do No Evil.
Just my little experience.
Norv N.
Interesting. Thank you for sharing.

I wasn't aware of the latest events, since I've pretty much left G+. Will do some reading now, thank you for all the links.

It is too late for my personal opinion on the safety of the web, given the tools in the hands of a company that takes such directions as Google did. (thinking again about Google Search proprietary algorythm impact, but not only.)
But it's good to know there was an impact... I hope.
In an email thread about spam from Google groups in one of my antispam industry mailing lists, someone made the cogent point that not being evil is not at all the same thing as being good.
There's an interesting discussion on Hacker News at where nirvana's top-rated comment talks about losing trust in Google, and brc's reply says "I personally think the old 'don't be evil' motto is looking very tatty these days. "
a lot of the interview focused on how they were being ultra-careful - not giving out too much in APIs straightaway, not letting games creep in to streams straightaway.... I think its highly unlikely we're going to wake up one morning and find G+ is a naming free-for-all.
+Alex Ross Eric Schmidt has made some truly fantastic anti-anonymity statements over the years. I would be very happy to see some evidence that his views are not shared by the Google+ executive team.
trio u
+Autumn Tyr-Salvia you are correct that Do no evil does not mean they are being good. But, just like the Hippocratic Oath, "First, do no harm"... it's a good start. Unfortunately, they have harmed themselves to the point of looking... well, evil. They will argue that point, but their reputation is now in the toilet.

Good luck to them.
Great discussion, all.

+Paul Brocklehurst good point on their general tone of proceeding carefully. as I said a few months ago when Joseph Smarr talked about how hard it would be to do pseudonymity right

The net result is that since the Google engineers can’t make pseudonymity work perfectly yet, they’d rather suspend people’s accounts if they don’t use the names Google wants them to. And “we’d rather wait until we get it right” leads to an initial community that’s biased against women, people with disabilities, transgender people, and all the other groups in Geek Feminism’s excellent Who is harmed by a real names policy?

+Alex Ross the situation you describe requires people whose jobs or insurance coverage would be at risk for what they say online, abuse and domestic violence survivors, activists in repressive regime, or people being targeted by death threats to share their real names with Google. I wouldn't consider that a victory, and I don't think it will be enough for G+ to overcome the mistrust they've created so far.

+Eva Galperin agreed. Bradley "Elatable" Horowitz has said some very positive things about anonymity in the past, but like you I would like to hear more of the executive team weigh in to counter Eric Schmidt's creepy comments.
The fight is clearly not over and Google's not any less evil than it was yesterday. But a little celebration is appropriate. I say "huzzah" EFF.
I appreciate your civility :)

Look, if we're premature, you know we'll eat our words. The sheer amount of hate mail/messages I've gotten for this is absurd. Do people think that, if G+ fails, we'll let it slide? Have we ever before?

In any case, my personal (not EFF) philosophy is to applaud companies when they do things right, and rip them a new asshole when they do things wrong. I personally hope that by cheering them on, we're helping to hold them accountable. I could be wrong, but if I am...well, you know.
Also, I agree with +Alex Ross. While it should be apparent from my many writings on this issue that what I want and have fought for is full anonymity, I do believe that any progress on this issue matters. While some of us can walk away from a social network, for others, it's their only voice to a certain community -- and so, if an intermediate solution allows them to feel safe, even if they have to identify to Google , I will call that a partial success.

Similar with Facebook - I've been yelling about their policy for years, but I still applauded them when they stopped deactivating accounts of policy violators (they now send them through a "user education" queue). It's not perfect, but for the vast majority of users, it makes a huge difference.

A pragmatist is not the worst thing I've ever been called.
Norv N.
I wonder if it's a bug or something, ... it would be too silly to behave intently in such way.
+Norv N. I sure hope not. But I swear I posted the same basic post earlier today, and it's not in my stream. Could have been user error... This time, I've posted it, reposted the URL a bunch of places, and retested it. ;) Trust, but verify. I'd far rather believe it was the rush before I ran off to fetch my son from Norwich for the weekend, I just screwed something up...

And Alex doesn't have the sharing set. None of his posts show as visible to me, so that's a rational explanation. One gets...nervous sometimes... So it's probably nothing.
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