I don’t know the motivation behind the Real Name policy.
Maybe someone at Google got scragged by an anonymous poster and is exacting his or her twisted revenge on the world.
But all it’s doing is making Google look like a bunch of amateurs and Police Statists who are more interested in forcing people to do something that people don’t want to do.
In theory, making people use their real names is good. Who doesn’t want people to stand up to the things they post online?
I’ve used my real name online as soon as I could.
On CompuServe, there was the C.B. Simulator, the prehistoric all-ASCII precursor to today’s Twitter. Anyone could use any damned handle they wanted. For a few days, I was Remington Steele(!). (Other handles I don’t remember.)
When I started to use Bulletin-Board Systems, I used my real name when it was available. Always.
I have a lonnnng trail of online postings. Some I’m happy with, some that make me cringe. But they’re all mine.
But using my real name is my choice.
There are many reasons people would want to use an assumed name or handle, none of which are nefarious.
One that is close to my sandbox are writers who put out work under different names.
Hell, even Stephen King did that!
Right now, there are many, many writers working in the Romance genre who do a variety of series under different pen names. They also have different Twitter accounts under these pen names to address their different markets.
In Google’s eyes, that’s fraudulent or deceptive.
In the real world, it’s what happens.
And there’s nothing wrong with that.
Here’s a real-life example that should just devastate the thinking people at Google and make them reconsider their current course:
Come on, Google. You’re all bright over there. How could none of you have ever seen that as a possibility?
There was recently a debate on Google+ over the mandatory disclosure of gender.
That’s not an issue I participated in.
First, I’m a white male. We are seen as the rulers (no matter how far down the ladder we might be).
Second, I’m not someone who is going to use someone’s sex or transsexualism or sexual orientation against them.
Third, the people involved in the debate could speak from real life. I could not.
But when it comes to writers and writing, this is where I have something to say, dammit.
The Google+ Real Name policy is just utterly wrongheaded.
It is against human nature.
It is against Internet Culture.
It is against the reality of how many people — writers, actors, performers, singers, artists — choose to identify themselves to everyone or to different market segments.
The Real Name policy should be dropped.
And Google has to right all the damage it has done.
It has broken trust. That is the mortal sin of the 21st century.
What Google has as its loophole — though it is weak — is that Google+ is still in beta, thus they can claim they have been learning as they go along — as they did with the gender issue.
But correcting this requires humility and an apology.
And, Google, if you’ve forgotten how to do that, go read this.
As for step three there, this is What You Do;
1) Restore all accounts
2) Apologize individually by email
3) And make sure they are satisfied