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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.
    • Re:Youtube Comments (Score:5, Interesting)

      by sd4f (1891894) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:09PM (#47462353)
      After so long of not posting comments (i may have been able, but youtube just started annoying me too much to bother, with all these screens that desperately wanted to know who I am and create google+ accounts), I no longer care. They can keep their commenting system.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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 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 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.

          • Ever since the Google+ marriage to YouTube if I click on a comment to see what it was in response to, it opens up a new tab and still doesn't show me the parent post. I'm using the latest version of Chromium and have YouTube whitelisted in my JavaScript blocker, so I don't know what the problem is.
          • Re:Youtube Comments (Score:5, Interesting)

            by satuon (1822492) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @02:34AM (#47464555)

            I made a JavaScript script that auto-clicks the "Show more comments" button every second, and I would leave it for a while. It can easily uncover 2000-3000 comments. It makes Chrome use up all the RAM though, I can't believe how much RAM you need to display a few thousand lines of text.

          • by coastwalker (307620) <acoastwalker&hotmail,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.

          • by AbRASiON (589899) *

            This man for president, seriously.
            Fuck those designers, fuck ALL of them. The internet in /general/ is getting worse for design, ever since tablets got popular, it's fucking gross and I'm sick of 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.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yes,
      Unnecessarily difficult, because google either already knows who you are (via some other registered service(s) i.e. Adwords etc) or will link in a relationship to your choosen "Pseudonym" to your real name, web history and other online events later on anyway.

      So yeah google, what a stupid idea.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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.

      • Actually this probably means that people will use youtube again.
        It was a pain to set up an alias to comment or upload a video - even when you had an alias, it would keep prompting you to pick between them all the time. And if you chose to not log-in to a google account while using youtube, your search results changed and you could not create playlists (earlier you had a seperate youtube account on which you could create playlists). I like to watch british version of top gear, so I would often create playli
      • by X0563511 (793323)

        I won't be using it - not directly - but I'll allow my profile to have a Google+ "page" now that it doesn't want to have my name associated with it.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by geekoid (135745)

        Those people shouldn't be using any social media.

        I like G+ very few trolls and flamebaits. I've had some good conversations. It was nice being in a science thread and not here AGW denier bullshit, and actually discuss the science. Many other examples as well.

        • I like G+ very few trolls and flamebaits. I've had some good conversations. It was nice being in a science thread and not here AGW denier bullshit, and actually discuss the science. Many other examples as well.

          That's a function of who is on your friends list, or who the community moderator is and how well they do their job, etc... etc... not of the host platform.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

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

      • Honestly, the real name thing didn't bug me so much as the "vanity" url name they give me is "MyFullName" instead of "nickname" ... when I search for my nickname, I'm a significant portion of the results... I should have been able to get this.. with their old profile system, I had it.. now I still don't.
      • Re:Youtube Comments (Score:4, Interesting)

        by currently_awake (1248758) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @09:57PM (#47463585)
        The news here is Google has found they don't need you to give your real name anymore, that they have found other ways to get that without actually asking.
      • I think you missed the big one: lots of people might actually start using Google+.

        I doubt that lack of anonymous accounts hurt G+ all that much, despite the enormous amount of noise generated by a relatively small number of people over the issue. Google's insanely stupid "invitation only" method of signing up coupled with their very feature incomplete system at launch likely did far more harm than anything else. Google just doesn't seem to get social media, and their lackadaisical "benign neglect" managem

    • Re:Youtube Comments (Score:5, Informative)

      by lord_mike (567148) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:40PM (#47462577)

      And Google Play comments, too...

      • by itsme1234 (199680)

        And Google Play RATINGS. If you used your real name on email and you had a not-so-common name you had good chances to have a review or rating on angry brids to come up in the first restuls when somebody googled you. WTF?

        In fact what does it mean "Pseudonyms Now Allowed", precisely? You could change your name anyway for like 3 times and yes, it was supposed to be your own name but of course there was no way to police this for normal accounts. Of course, the drawback was that if you wanted to comment on Play

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:08PM (#47462345)

    "Now that our pseudonym to single user identity resolution algorithm is reasonably accurate, go right ahead and make up a fake name."

    • 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.
      • 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!

    • 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.

  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:09PM (#47462351)

    Now Google+ is sure to become the popular destination it's always been destined to be! I'm going to go on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Reddit and Tumblr and a site with Disqus and tell everyone it's time for Google+! Then I'll pull down my pants and tell all my friends on SnapChat!

  • by Dan Askme (2895283) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @06:17PM (#47462433) Homepage

    - The news Story = " removed all restrictions on what usernames people are allowed to use"
    - So i clicked "Edit your name:"
    - I enter "4D", in the name field

    Result = "Please fill in the name fields."

    Garbage news for a garbage product. Did any of the devs even think to "test it"?

    • by Thantik (1207112)
      Also uneditable is the "G+ URL" that they were allowing people to sign up for. What the hell good is editing my name, when the URL I was allowed to have ends up having my real name and completely unchangeable....
    • The name can't be blank, so that's a restriction they didn't tell you about. It's not clear if they require both a first and last name from your post, so I can't call you a dumbass on that one. But you do have enough characters for a first and last name, which may make them required.

      From what you are describing, you are setting your "name" which, from the history of computers, has been first and last name. It sounds like they changed the policy either for names, which have a first and second part, or for

  • I haven't even noticed that pseudonyms were ever banned. Are you telling me the guy I talked with the other day wasn't the *actual* Adolf Hitler!?
    • by seebs (15766)

      What they really banned wasn't "names which aren't yours" but "names which don't look like they are real names". There was no effort at all to enforce the accuracy of names unless they thought you were impersonating someone. But if you had a not-very-Western name, well, that was a possible problem. And once you got into the "we don't think that looks like a name" thing, they wanted real documentation of some sort.

      I never did find a way to make that happen, but eventually I talked to someone who knew someone

      • And once you got into the "we don't think that looks like a name" thing, they wanted real documentation of some sort.

        Well, they never asked *me* for anything, and I certainly did (and do) qualify for that category.

        • by Chalnoth (1334923)
          Early-on, they banned quite a few users who had used names which Google's algorithms thought weren't really names. This was especially annoying for people who had decidedly non-English names. It's easy enough to find a number of articles from soon after the launch of Google+ that revolve around this issue.
  • When all is said and done, what difference does it make? All you had to do before was make up a name that looked real, such as Rufus T. Firefly. [wikipedia.org]
  • This is bad (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> 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: (Score:3, Insightful)

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

      You're confusing inactivity with civility.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        If the people who are inactive would otherwise troll, then good. Which may or may not be the case.
        My feed is plenty active. I think the fact that it doesn't toss crap in your face all the time, and doesn't have a bunch of of moving or annoying icons make people think it's not busy.
        Much like a single lane that's backed up appear to have a lot of drivers, but a four lane highway with twice as many cars doesn't seem to ahve a lot of drivers.

    • by stoploss (2842505)

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

      Enjoy yourself over there with the other people like you. Personally, I don't perceive why you would be trolled when you can just make an insular group of associates and block everyone else.

      FWIW, I don't think that having your identity known by others has influenced you to dial back your trolling on this site. Then again, given that it's you, I'm not surprised that you prefer a highly structured social construct with many regulations.

    • having to use real names has made it far less.

      FTFY. Full stop. Emphasis mine.

  • Google+ allows a custom URL.

    When I registered my business for Google Places (now part of Google My Business) it had an "easy" way to get on Google+, so I set it up as part of my profile.

    Then a few weeks later, they sent me an email saying I was preapproved for a custom G+ URL. It was not editable, and included the city of my business in it. So it ended up being around 40-45 characters long.

    I tried to change it, but it seems it is not possible. The one I want appears to be available. Its 11 characters long,

    • by EvilIdler (21087)
      YouTube allowed a custom nickname too, if you were persistent. But as much as I tried, it never let me actually pick the the first 5 attempts. I now have 6 alternate identities which are *exactly the same 11-letter name*. But the 6th one stuck, and YouTube still logs in with it. G+ I only use to stay in touch with a minimal subset of developers, so my real name isn't a problem. I was confused by circles disappearing and being replaced with communities, though. It's not just their policies which need some tw
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      ... says "Snufu"

    • by penix1 (722987) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @07:27PM (#47462897) Homepage

      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.

      The same happened with my hometown paper but the reverse is true. They went from a moderated (meaning the spam and abusive posts were never posted since posts had to be pre-approved) with lots of insightful comments to almost no comments what-so-ever and the few that were commenting were doing so from fake FB accounts. So the noise ratio went way up on the comments they were getting. In short, they replaced their working moderation system with the FB system thinking the same way you do and got exactly the opposite effect.

      • by EvilIdler (21087)
        I can't say YouTube changed at all while they only allowed real names (but not really; I somehow managed to avoid it, having a short nickname already). There may have been a lower total volume of posts, but the remaining comments were like the cesspool we all know and love.
    • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 pe

      • by mpe (36238)
        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.

        Or who don't want their comments in one forum linked to a completly different and unrelated forum.
    • 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 Guppy06 (410832)

      Have you taken a look at Facebook posts lately?

      You seem to be confusing real identification with having actual moderation in an online forum.

    • by pantaril (1624521)

      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.

      We are talking about pseudoanonymity here, not anonymity. And we are talking about moderated discussion. I disagree that it is only usefull in special circumstances. Using real name is big security risk for anyone. Internet is vast and you never know what deranged individual will take interest in your person. If you provide your real name, you are opening yourself to several identity theft related attacks which can be very nasty. This is very old topic which was perfectly explored for example in this articl

  • Miles O'Toole, Mike Hawke, Man-hung Long, Hubicha Kokov and Hugh G. Rection join me in applauding this long-overdue initiative.

  • When I attempt to go to Plus, it still says my account is flagged for name violation...apparently, it's not fixed for those already so-flagged.

  • Maybe next they can begin allowing you to post reviews anonymously again from your main account. I use google+ quite a bit and post using my full name but I don't want a restaurant I frequent or my tire change place to see my full name in my reviews. I haven't posted a review since the removal of public facing anonymity.
  • I can now finally get a Google+ account and do ratings on Android apps...

    Too bad it's a few years too late... Had google offered this when they launched Google+ they might have actually become a decent competitor to facebook. Now it's too late.

  • You want, of course, to block all email from pseudonyms.

  • Where Google can wear their ass hats and kiss mine goodbye.
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday July 15, 2014 @08:16PM (#47463149)

    Everyone is chatting about it on Twitter and Facebook!

  • The real name policy had rules that excluded people's real names. Now that the rules for what constitutes a real name don't matter everyone can be sure that their real names won't be excluded.

  • by Greyfox (87712)
    There was much rejoicing among the Google+ users! All 6 of them!
  • "For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place..."

    Neither here nor there, but this is the kind of language companies usually use just after being spanked for discriminatory-like* practices.

    * "Can't have my name attached to a post about controversial topic X in the current political climate whilst keeping my day job -> excluded from the service -> more controversial ideological groups more excluded -> discrimination!" ...I wo

  • i think one of two things happened, here. first is that it might have finally sunk in to google that even just *claiming* to have properly verified user identities leaves them open to lawsuits should they fail to have properly carried out the verification checks that other users *believe* they have carried out. every other service people *know* that you don't trust the username: for a service to claim that they have truly verified the identity of the individual behind the username is reprehensibly irrespo

  • by thevirtualcat (1071504) on Wednesday July 16, 2014 @09:29AM (#47466447)

    My problem with the real name policy wasn't using my real name on Google+. When I had a Facebook account, I used my real name there.

    My problem with the real name policy was that if you used Google+, it would retroactively change all your OTHER Google services to use your real name. Half of the people I use my GMail account to communicate with don't actually know my real name. Now, of course, I could get a Google+ account and continue using the same name I've been using on my GMail account for years.

    Except that I don't actually use GMail anymore.

    At the time, Google+ was sucking up other Google services and forcibly integrating them. I didn't see why GMail would be an exception to that in the long run and I wanted nothing to do with it.

    So it's great that they've removed the real name policy and are no longer agressively integrating their other services into it, but...

    Too little, too late. I've already left.

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