Why “Real Names” Policies Are Wrong

google-plus-you-560x442Google Plus‘s decision to kill off accounts that are not “real names” follows a broader online trend of websites requiring users to utilize their birth names rather than “LimpBizkitDude69″. The idea is that this will make people more “responsible”. But in addition to its being a longstanding internet tradition, there are legitimate and important reasons why people use online pseudonyms. Apophenia compiled a bunch:

“I’ve been stalked. I’m a rape survivor. I am a government employee that is prohibited from using my IRL.”

“I am a high school teacher, privacy is of the utmost importance.”

“I have used this name/account in a work context, my entire family know this name and my friends know this name. It enables me to participate online without being subject to harassment that at one point in time lead to my employer having to change their number so that calls could get through.”

“I do not feel safe using my real name online as I have had people track me down from my online presence and had coworkers invade my private life.”

“As a former victim of stalking that impacted my family I’ve used [my nickname] online for about 7 years.”

“[this name] is a pseudonym I use to protect myself. My web site can be rather controversial and it has been used against me once.”

“I started using [this name] to have at least a little layer of anonymity between me and people who act inappropriately/criminally. I think the “real names” policy hurts women in particular.

“I enjoy being part of a global and open conversation, but I don’t wish for my opinions to offend conservative and religious people I know or am related to. Also I don’t want my husband’s Govt career impacted by his opinionated wife, or for his staff to feel in any way uncomfortable because of my views.”

“I have privacy concerns for being stalked in the past. I’m not going to change my name for a google+ page. The price I might pay isn’t worth it.”

“We get death threats at the blog, so while I’m not all that concerned with, you know, sane people finding me. I just don’t overly share information and use a pen name.”

“This identity was used to protect my real identity as I am gay and my family live in a small village where if it were openly known that their son was gay they would have problems.”

“I go by pseudonym for safety reasons. Being female, I am wary of internet harassment.”

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Wrenja-Czaczkes/100000276829636 Wrenja Czaczkes

    agreed!

  • Wrenja Czaczkes

    agreed!

  • Karr

    I came from an abusive family, so I use a pseudonym online to not only protect myself from them but to disassociate myself from them until I can legally change my name (I cannot currently due to issues with school, insurance, etc). However, when I tried to sign up for a Facebook account, they rejected the name I identify with with their automatic system! I use a truncated version of it, but social networking sites have policies full of poppycock. It is important to remember though that these are tools used by people in positions of power and that these are all businesses. They don’t care about your safety at all, just your information and possibly advertiser money.

  • Karr

    I came from an abusive family, so I use a pseudonym online to not only protect myself from them but to disassociate myself from them until I can legally change my name (I cannot currently due to issues with school, insurance, etc). However, when I tried to sign up for a Facebook account, they rejected the name I identify with with their automatic system! I use a truncated version of it, but social networking sites have policies full of poppycock. It is important to remember though that these are tools used by people in positions of power and that these are all businesses. They don’t care about your safety at all, just your information and possibly advertiser money.

    • quartz99

      Is the name you tried to use the one you’re planning to legally change it too?

      Stupid facebook. People get named all kinds of things. Like that little girl saddled with “Like” because her parents are so devoted to fb. Wonder if they’re reject her registration as well when she’s old enough to use it.

    • quartz99

      Is the name you tried to use the one you’re planning to legally change it too?

      Stupid facebook. People get named all kinds of things. Like that little girl saddled with “Like” because her parents are so devoted to fb. Wonder if they’re reject her registration as well when she’s old enough to use it.

  • Frankensteinmoneymac

    But what if LimpBizkitDude69 really IS your REAL name?!?! What then Google Plus?…….What……Then…….?

  • Frankensteinmoneymac

    But what if LimpBizkitDude69 really IS your REAL name?!?! What then Google Plus?…….What……Then…….?

  • Yith

    I use an online pseudonym so that I can be more free to say anything I wish without fear of embarrassment.  Were I to write the way I speak most of the time to co-workers, friends and acquaintances, I would be much more circumspect.

  • Yith

    I use an online pseudonym so that I can be more free to say anything I wish without fear of embarrassment.  Were I to write the way I speak most of the time to co-workers, friends and acquaintances, I would be much more circumspect.

  • Yith

    I use an online pseudonym so that I can be more free to say anything I wish without fear of embarrassment.  Were I to write the way I speak most of the time to co-workers, friends and acquaintances, I would be much more circumspect.

  • Anonymous

    This is all about vetting the information they can glean to sell. Last year there was a gigantic brouhaha over this same issue with Blizzard (a game company) when they said they were going to put people’s full real names (ie, the names on their frickin’ credit cards from billing) on their forum posts (among other uses). They were eventually forced to drop the idea and to introduce privacy features into the accounts to let you hide your name from anyone who you didn’t expressly give it to. I would lay odds the same thing will happen to google. If it doesn’t, I won’t be joining Google+. Simple as that.

    Hell, my gmail is a character’s name, and so is my google profile. It’s certainly not my real name. I use that gmail account in situations where I don’t want to use my real one because doing so will negatively impact someone close to me (like a family member who works for the government. No way I’d post here, for instance, with my real name, until after they retire!). It should be a person’s choice whether they want their personal information blasted all over the internet, not google’s.

  • quartz99

    This is all about vetting the information they can glean to sell. Last year there was a gigantic brouhaha over this same issue with Blizzard (a game company) when they said they were going to put people’s full real names (ie, the names on their frickin’ credit cards from billing) on their forum posts (among other uses). They were eventually forced to drop the idea and to introduce privacy features into the accounts to let you hide your name from anyone who you didn’t expressly give it to. I would lay odds the same thing will happen to google. If it doesn’t, I won’t be joining Google+. Simple as that.

    Hell, my gmail is a character’s name, and so is my google profile. It’s certainly not my real name. I use that gmail account in situations where I don’t want to use my real one because doing so will negatively impact someone close to me (like a family member who works for the government. No way I’d post here, for instance, with my real name, until after they retire!). It should be a person’s choice whether they want their personal information blasted all over the internet, not google’s.

  • Okairn

    we can all be john smith or bob doe

  • Anonymous

    Is the name you tried to use the one you’re planning to legally change it too?

    Stupid facebook. People get named all kinds of things. Like that little girl saddled with “Like” because her parents are so devoted to fb. Wonder if they’re reject her registration as well when she’s old enough to use it.

  • Okairn

    we can all be john smith or bob doe

  • Anonymus

    “We get death threats at the blog, so while I’m not all that concerned
    with, you know, sane people finding me. I just don’t overly share
    information and use a pen name.”  So only insane people send death threats?  I’m truly sorry that happened to you, but most of us have morality like everyone else.  Outside of those who aren’t capable of having morality. 

    Anyway, I like having pen names, because I can hide from the real life stigma of living with a mental illness.  Sure, people find me anyway or figure it out, but by then they know I’m managing the illness.  

  • Anonymus

    “We get death threats at the blog, so while I’m not all that concerned
    with, you know, sane people finding me. I just don’t overly share
    information and use a pen name.”  So only insane people send death threats?  I’m truly sorry that happened to you, but most of us have morality like everyone else.  Outside of those who aren’t capable of having morality. 

    Anyway, I like having pen names, because I can hide from the real life stigma of living with a mental illness.  Sure, people find me anyway or figure it out, but by then they know I’m managing the illness.  

  • Redacted

    I’m sorry to inform you guys that SuddenlySpam is not my legal name.

    • Andrew

      Yeah, right.  You’re just trying to cover your ass, Suddenly.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry to inform you guys that SuddenlySpam is not my legal name.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry to inform you guys that SuddenlySpam is not my legal name.

  • Andrew

    Yeah, right.  You’re just trying to cover your ass, Suddenly.

  • Girlindaytona

    I’m not out of the closet and visit websites that, just by the visit, tend to out me. I can’t get information on being transgendered if I can’t hide my true identity.

  • Girlindaytona

    I’m not out of the closet and visit websites that, just by the visit, tend to out me. I can’t get information on being transgendered if I can’t hide my true identity.

  • Richard

    Mark Fuckkerberg said, “You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for
    your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are
    probably coming to an end pretty quickly … Having two identities for
    yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.“

    I would like Fuckkerberg to tell this in person to victims of stalkers, rapists and abusive spouses.

  • Richard

    Mark Fuckkerberg said, “You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for
    your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are
    probably coming to an end pretty quickly … Having two identities for
    yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.“

    I would like Fuckkerberg to tell this in person to victims of stalkers, rapists and abusive spouses.

  • Richard

    Mark Fuckkerberg said, “You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for
    your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are
    probably coming to an end pretty quickly … Having two identities for
    yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.“

    I would like Fuckkerberg to tell this in person to victims of stalkers, rapists and abusive spouses.

  • LOONTONNE

    i’m not my name.

  • LOONTONNE

    i’m not my name.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    There goes Goofle+’s relevance. 

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    There goes Goofle+’s relevance. 

  • Gregozioma

    It’s actually really a totalitarian company in its early stages, consolidating its power.

  • Gregozioma

    It’s actually really a totalitarian company in its early stages, consolidating its power.

  • Gregozioma

    It’s actually really a totalitarian company in its early stages, consolidating its power.