January 24, 2012
Google Allows Users to Add Nicknames to Their Google+ Name
Google+ has relaxed its much despised pseudonyms policy by "letting existing members attach an alternate moniker to their profile name and by letting new members sign up with just a pseudonym, provided it is an 'established' identity online or offline."
Up until now, users have been forced to use their real name, much to the irritation of political dissidents or victims of stalkers. So, essentially, you can add a nickname with Google+ as long as that name exists elsewhere online - such as Twitter, or Flickr or, er, Facebook.
Google states that in fact, only about 0.1% of Google+ users submit "name appeals" demanding an unconventional nickname.
Some may say this goes "far enough" to satisfy us. A non-verified nickname is a pseudonym, and pseudonyms, if not kept in check, would grant us anonymity, argues Joe Wilcox.
He claims anonymity online is bad because it encourages phishers and trollers, and compromises our security and community within social networks.
Honesty is the best policy, he says piously, adding "What are you afraid of? I use my real name everywhere, as I have always done. I see that as being in the very spirit of the open - and transparent - Internet. Be who you are, not someone else."
Um, well, OK. If you say so. But this might not work if your crazy ex-husband is trolling the Internet looking for you or if the some mad dictator wants to throw you in a dungeon. Or if you don't take social networking that seriously and just want to have a space where you can call yourself "Flash" or "Chewbacca" or whatever.
Google asking users to submit official documents to a social media site seems sort of, well, Orwellian. And I mean that in a Big Brother, evil way.
Coincidentally, Facebook has recently issued a "Don't be evil" bookmarklet Chrome extension. This is a play on Google's famous motto and allows people to search non-Google weighted pages with more ease.
Google+ claims to have 90 million members, more than double what it had three months ago. Facebook has more than 800 million. Many using false names.
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