Battle lines drawn in Google+ real names controversy

John Moe Aug 15, 2011

Most web services would prefer if users used their actual names instead of an online-only moniker. People tend to be more responsible when its their actual identity on the line instead of, say, SurferD00d91’s. But Google+ pretty much insists on reality. A few weeks ago, the budding social network booted a bunch of users off the service for what it perceived to be pretend names. Now that policy is amended to giving users a four day grace period to shape up or ship out.

That’s not sitting well with a lot of privacy advocates who say that people should be able to use whatever name they like. Imagine if someone you’d rather avoid knew your real name and you couldn’t hide behind any other name online.

Says Gizmodo:

Let’s say you are a gay teen who wants to reach out online without fear of your family finding out. Or maybe you are a whistleblower who fears retribution. Or a person of faith who could be subject to religious persecution. Or a dissident who fears imprisonment. A battered wife seeking shelter.
Or maybe you’re somebody whose actual real name violates Google’s policy. For example, it doesn’t allow any numbers or symbols. So, sorry, Jennifer 8. Lee. I know you’re a highly-respected and well-known journalist, but your name has a number in it so you’ve got four days to change that or you can fuck off back to Facebook.
And I don’t know what the heck Prince is going to do about this.

The policy would also exclude Mark Twain, Malcolm X, and at least half of U2.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.