If we thought Google+ vs Facebook was about competing to enhance control over your online privacy, maybe we need to think again.
Over the last 96 hours or so, there have been a lot of reports of Google enforcing its policy (oh-so-cleverly named “community standards”) that users of G+ need to use their real name.
Specifically, Google+’s policy requires that your display name be what your “friends, family, and coworkers” call you.
This is similar to Facebook’s sinister “real name” policy, which would be evil if it were well-enforced, and which we blogged about extensively last year. In the post, we joked about the concept of Google requiring your identity for search like Facebook did:
“To use Google Search, you’ll need to sign in under your one true identity. If this is in direct contrast to what you expected from an internet search engine, we apologize for any confusion. This is simply the intention behind our service. You can no longer search with Google. This decision is final.” – http://www.abine.com/wordpress/2010/facebooks-iron-fist/
Well, the joke’s on us.
As Robert Scoble and Violet Blue report, Google+ is, like Facebook, pushing to require your real identity to use their services. In some cases, it appears that if users want to use a simple alias in place of their name, all of their Google services access will be revoked. Is this crazy, or just the anti-privacy road that lies ahead?
Vic Gundotra of Google was quoted as saying:
“It is about having common names and removing people who spell their names in weird ways, like using upside-down characters, or who are using obviously fake names.”
Wow. No one should use an obviously fake name on the Internet now? Our PrivacySuite browser add-on is built on this concept: our right to choose identities we’re comfortable with on a site-by-site basis and then creating, if desired, obviously fake identities.
In a world where both Facebook and Google are busy subsidizing the development of “who you are as a user” (in industry jargon, “identity management”) on millions of other sites you visit, giving yourself up might mean only saying and doing things online that you’d do in front of your grandmother. We’re quite sure that Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Paige think this would make a better business, but would it make a better Web?
About Abine: Abine, Inc. The Online Privacy Company, is the leading provider of online privacy solutions for consumers. Abine’s PrivacySuite products and DeleteMe privacy subscription services allow regular people to regain control over their personal information while continuing to browse, interact, and shop online. For more information, please visit www.abine.com.