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Pseudonyms Now Allowed On Google+ 238

Posted by Soulskill
from the finally-batman-can-set-up-a-profile dept.
An anonymous reader writes When Google+ launched, it received criticism across the internet for requiring that users register with their real names. Now, Google has finally relented and removed all restrictions on what usernames people are allowed to use. The company said, "We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be."
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Pseudonyms Now Allowed On Google+

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  • Youtube Comments (Score:5, Insightful)

    by exomondo (1725132) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:04PM (#47462307)
    I see the only major impact of this being that people can now leave pseudonymous comments on Youtube again.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:17PM (#47462429)

    Same here. Sometimes I go to leave a comment on a youtube video but then it prompts me to set up a Google+ account.

    So I just don't comment instead.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:23PM (#47462457)

    I see the only major impact of this being that people can now leave pseudonymous comments on Youtube again.

    I think you missed the big one: lots of people might actually start using Google+.

    Sure, lots of people already did. But lots of people did not. Some people just didn't like the blatant privacy violations.

  • Re:In other words (Score:5, Insightful)

    by osu-neko (2604) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:25PM (#47462469)
    Yeah, I already figured Google knows who I am and what all my aliases are anyhow. It's not Google I'm trying to keep from putting the pieces together, it's J. Random HR twerp who doesn't need to know my hobbies and kinks to determine if I'm qualified for the job.
  • by exomondo (1725132) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:28PM (#47462491)

    I think you missed the big one: lots of people might actually start using Google+.

    I doubt it, it was unpopular before the real names policy and I don't see the reversion of that policy increasing it's popularity.

    Some people just didn't like the blatant privacy violations.

    Sorry I'm not really familiar with Google+ - outside of the necessity of it to make use of Google services and the incessant nagging from Google that I create one - but what privacy violations does this change rescind? I did a bit of a search and found this but AFAIK that is still in effect (or maybe it isnt?). [india.com]

  • by Darinbob (1142669) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:40PM (#47462579)

    Google+ is not about a popularity contest. It's about being social without being on facebook, or keeping track of special interest groups (including celebreties). The only real problem with Google+ was that it wanted to tie you to other stupid services like youtube, without even letting you go slumming on a separate account. Google should have left it alone instead of trying to get a one-acount-fits-all login (trying too hard to be a facebook clone instead of being something better).

  • This is bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:44PM (#47462607) Homepage Journal

    having to use real names has made it far less trollish then other places.

  • Re:In other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:46PM (#47462627) Homepage Journal

    Sure. I don't care about Google knowing my name. I care about schmucks on Youtube knowing my name.

  • by Glarimore (1795666) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:48PM (#47462643)
    There's no reason to be contributing to that pool of bile anyway. Youtube comments are notoriously atrocious.
  • by sumdumass (711423) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:53PM (#47462685) Journal

    It was probably easier for them to tie all the data they collect to you with one account. That's what they seem to be after anyways, data.

  • by Snufu (1049644) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:54PM (#47462693)

    Whistleblowing, witness protection, for example. For most other cases anonymity degenerates into a cesspool of behavior that is not accepted in normal society. See every unmoderated anonymous internet forum ever.

    Using real identities can vastly improve internet behavior. For example, a forum I frequent recently switched from anonymous posting to Facebook accounts. Overnoght the forum changed from endless spam and trolling to respectful discourse between actual people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:07PM (#47462767)

    Too little, too late in my case. I've managed to live without it for so long now, I won't be bothering.

  • by penix1 (722987) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:08PM (#47462779) Homepage

    No... No... No... No! Those are his clones. The REAL Adolph Hitler lives in Argentina...

  • by fractoid (1076465) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:25PM (#47462891) Homepage
    I don't think that would have made that much difference to them, honestly. They already have pretty much all of your data.

    My issue with it was that while I've come to terms with Google knowing everything about me, it doesn't follow that I'm OK with everyone else knowing everything about me.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:36PM (#47462935)

    There's no reason to be contributing to that pool of bile anyway. Youtube comments are notoriously atrocious.

    They got worse with the redesign, though.

    Old and busted: You could always look at page 1/2/3 of the comments or binary-search your way through the pages (pre-page-57 or post-page 57? pre-page 84 or post-page-84?) if a video that hadn't been relevant for ages became relevant. At 100 comments per page, all displayed in full, and popping tabs for each page with a bunch of middle-clicks, it was relatively easy to skim through the 99.99% of the shit to find the 0.01% you wanted
    New hotness: Some fucking UXtard goes for infinite scroll, and you have to click to expand subthreads, and then click to expand any comment longer than three lines in any subthread.

    Every time a UX designer fucks with something to make it more mobile-friendly, they make it less usable for both desktop and mobile users.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:39PM (#47462949)

    Google+ is just more privacy-invading social media garbage. You can pretend all you want that it's completely different from Facebook, but it's more of the same trash.

  • by jeIIomizer (3670945) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:49PM (#47463003)

    Whistleblowing, witness protection, for example. For most other cases anonymity degenerates into a cesspool of behavior that is not accepted in normal society.

    People suppress their true nature in "normal society." "normal society" bores me to tears.

    Overnoght the forum changed from endless spam and trolling to respectful discourse between actual people.

    More like useless, non-controversial discourse. By tying everything to real names, you make it less likely that anyone will do anything controversial, even when it needs to be done. Who knows if a future employer will decide to not hire you because you said something they don't like, even if you thought it was completely innocuous?

    I'd rather deal with trolls and spam than have "respectful discourse" between fake people.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:50PM (#47463013)

    Using real identities will also mean that some people will decide to never comment, because they value their privacy. For every troll you discourage by using their "real name" (probably not their real name anyway, and they always make a new account or connect from a different IP), you'll lose many other people who would have given useful comments, but won't do so if they were going to be identifiable. You will never know what you're missing. Really, a comment should be evaluated regardless of who the person is, and the little bit of accountability added by having names is a poor shortcut for a proper moderation system.

    It accomplishes "look, we're doing something", and sure the trolls may diminish, but how many other people leave? I suppose you could assume that if people aren't willing to identify themselves, they must not have anything useful to say, but in my experience people who post anonymously sometimes are able to say things first-hand about issues that they otherwise wouldn't disclose at all. Sometimes that's pretty important stuff, like talking about their job or a competitor's better product. It doesn't have to be as dramatic as legal whistleblowing or witness protection.

  • Re:This is bad (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @08:14PM (#47463143)

    having to use real names has made it far less trollish then other places.

    You're confusing inactivity with civility.

  • by seebs (15766) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @08:45PM (#47463291) Homepage

    You're failing to distinguish between anonymity and pseudonymity.

    You could argue that "seebs" isn't my "real name", although it's the only name I reliably answer to. But I've got ~30 years of history using this name, and nowhere near as much visible history under the name on my government ID, so this is the one I care about.

  • by jeIIomizer (3670945) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @09:03PM (#47463367)

    With "say controversial things" you mean trolling?

    Is that seriously the only thing you can think of? Take controversial topics like child porn, pedophilia, etc. Get on the 'wrong' side of an argument and you may find yourself the target of an angry mob - perhaps literally.

    Don't you think life would be better for you if you could assume who you are and what you think instead of having to hide and having to be a hypocrite?

    Don't you think life would be better if the world was perfect? Well, it isn't. You risk not being hired, being fired, losing many opportunities, and being harassed by the government. You also chase away people who don't want any of the things I just listed to happen to them. Maybe you expect people to just ignore all that, but the fact is, people don't. Some people change and convince themselves that they're being themselves, even when they're not. I don't want to hang out with fake people.

    Besides, I like my privacy. I like knowing that it's difficult to tie many things to me.

    Do you like it when people lie to you in order to obtain some kind of friendship from you?

    No, that's why I like anonymity.

    But my guess is you never posted anything which could justify it.

    You base this on nothing. And since when is this just about me? I'm more afraid of others ceasing to produce insightful and thought provoking content, all in the name of stopping "trolling," something that only thin-skinned people have trouble dealing with anyway.

  • by horza (87255) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @04:24AM (#47464921) Homepage

    The real-name G+ kept me away as I knew it was doomed. Many of my female friends use an alias, or a mis-spelled name, to avoid stalkers or getting hassled. Few of my guy friends would want to be on a service with no women on. Even I have 2 FB accounts, one for work friends and another for family. The fatal flaw, the one that killed various biometric companies as well as G+, is that in real life we are different people at different times. The person you are at work is not necessarily the person that is on a picnic with his family taking snaps of his loved ones or of wildlife.

    Phillip.

  • by coastwalker (307620) <acoastwalkerNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @05:18AM (#47465045) Homepage

    The information on the web is steadily disappearing behind shit UI designs. So many information sites of one kind or another have gone all flash, all icons, all pictures, all randomly spread over the page like vomit and repeated at random intervals in random blocks of "stuff you must see".

    Fortunately slidy tiles will be out of fashion eventually and we can all laugh at the people who think they are cool as we should be doing now.

  • Re:In other words (Score:4, Insightful)

    by spikenerd (642677) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @06:46AM (#47465369)

    Yeah, I already figured Google knows who I am and what all my aliases are anyhow.

    You are absolutely right, but abandoning pseudonymity based on this reasoning reflects a common misunderstanding about how data mining works. Please don't give up so easily. You see, organizations that scrape and aggregate data from the web can only probabilistically connect all your aliases. That is, they only know with 97.3% certainty that YouTubeTrollKing7 is the same person as osu-neko, and they only know with 98.5% certainty that osu-neko is Brian Nekomori who attends Oregon State University (I made that up, by the way). That may not be the kind of privacy you would prefer, but it buys a lot of freedom, especially if everyone does it. You see, the Internet is kind of big, and man-hunts involve skewed data. (That is, most people are not the person they are looking for.) Since false-positives create big headaches for data miners, they tend to set their thresholds very high. For example, if they set their thresholds at 99.5%, those pseudonyms will not be recognized as connected to you.

    So, what does this buy you? Well, it's not enough that you can go around committing crimes and expect the FBI to never find you. But, on the other hand, they're going to have a hard time achieving a conviction if they cannot find any other supporting evidence. Furthermore, people just don't seem to understand the power of exponential decay that occurs with probabilities. The more pseudonyms you use, the more the probabilistic connections among them decay into the low 90's, making it extremely cumbersome to link them all together. Imagine having to filter through the 0.01% of Internet posts that happen to falsely connect with your pseudonymns with high probability! No one wants to do that, so guess what, you have some privacy.

    So, don't give up on pseudonymity. Yes, data mining is real, but no, it is not omniscient. Pseudonymity doesn't defeat it, but it makes them pay a dear price for finding you. Make them pay to know who you are. If everyone does it, the whole industry stops being so lucrative. The very reason data mining pays off so well right now is because of people who take the attitude that "it doesn't matter because they know anyway". So, stop it!

  • by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @07:54AM (#47465749) Journal

    The whole problem is UX designers exist. I don't want a user experience. If a user interface is giving me an experience, it's getting in the way of what I want to do. User interfaces should melt into the background and explicitly NOT give me an experience. I should barely notice the user interface.

    We need to get rid of UX designers and replace them with competent UI designers instead.

  • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @10:34AM (#47467075) Homepage Journal

    On this subject, you and I are in complete agreement. If I want an "experience", I'll put some music on, or a video, or a game. Almost nothing else on my computer should be an "experience" at all. Just serve up the information, and let me get to it, thank you very much. Didn't the world almost unanimously reject Clippy? Someone should have learned from Microsoft's mistake.

To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing. -- Elbert Hubbard

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