Posted by : Wendy B Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Since Google+ dropped the gauntlet and began #Nymwars, we've all known what was behind Google's real common names policy.

Google, up until this weekend, stood behind the pretty notion that they want us to use our common names so that we can socialize better. They want us to be a happy social network. They want us to chat and play games blissfully with people online as we would if we met them randomly on the street. They don't want the bad bad people who use pseudonyms to come in and spam and troll us! They want us to use common names for our own benefit. Because they love us!

Besides! Google promised to do no evil, right? It's a good thing their definition of "evil" does not include lies and deception!

The truth is, we are consumers using a free product that they have to pay for. Our real names are, apparently, paramount to that. None of us are sure how this actually works when there really is no verification for us regular folk to prove that we are truly using our real names. Personally, I assumed that, if Google wanted to sell me to advertisers, they would just give them the information they already have, such as my age, location, interests.... I'm not the only one who thought that a simple solution to appease both advertisers and users was to have a back end verification process that required our proper information that we knew Google was giving to advertisers in some way, shape and form, while we were allowed to socialize however we want on the front end. But nope, our real names - or at least what looks like real names - are the bow on the gift they are giving to advertisers.

So anyway, this weekend, Google ex-CEO, now Chairman Eric Schmidt finally and officially let the cat out of the bag (get it? Cat? Internet?). It's all over the internet, so there's no need for me to try to reword everything. Instead, I've been hunting down the various articles and loading them up here for prosperity. (Transcript of Schmidt's comments)

See you on Judgment Day!


Eric Schmidt Admits Google+ Is a Giant Advertising Database
In other words, Google+ is a honey trap designed to sucker people into revealing as many details about their personal interests, consumer habits and spending patterns as possible, so that such information can be sold to large corporations who can then use targeted advertising to sell products.

Google Confirms It Aims to Own Your Online ID
He (Eric) replied by saying that G+ was built primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.

Google+ to Use Personal Data in Services
Privacy advocates have criticized Google for requiring people use their real names on the new social network, but Schmidt said Google won’t change the policies to accommodate those who don’t want to use their real names.


The policy could, however, create even more worries for Google as investigations into privacy violations continue. Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission ruled Google violated people’s privacy, so the company agreed to create a privacy program for current and future products that protects users’ names, e-mail, contact information, location data, and the unique identifiers for their personal devices.

Watch Google Describe How It Can Exploit Your Name
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television festival, Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt said Google Plus' real names policy opens up new horizons for the company in search, video streaming, and, oh ya, promotions and financial services.

Eric Schmidt: If you can’t use your real name, don’t use Google+
He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.


Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government's own policies, which implies there's no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.


He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

Google+ Is An Identity Service
So I agree with Eric that Google+ is in part an identity service. But “primarily an identity service?” That’s notable. Particularly in the context of what he said after that. “if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.”


It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them. And the answer to why you need to use your real name in the service is because they need you to. Well at least we got that out there and can deal with it.

One Response so far.

  1. I for one love our new artificial intelligence based overlords.
    I will assist you so that my pain will only further your iron fist like dominance.
    I do hope that I am paired with aesthetically pleasing and meaty females so that our coupling shall process hardy stock for your power farms.

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I also write about geek culture at Women Write About Comics, and I review genre fiction at The BiblioSanctum.

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