Elgan: Even Google hates its own 'names' policy
The Google+ real names policy is so bad, Google can't even describe it honestly. Fortunately, the solution is easy and obvious.
Computerworld - Google's only big blunder in the creation of its otherwise excellent Google+ social network has been a flawed policy on what users are allowed to call themselves. Everybody hates the policy. Even Google hates it.
A lot of thought went into Google+. But the names policy? Not so much.
Here's my interpretation of Google's real names policy:
We require you to use your real name on the service. If we catch you using a fake name, we will give you four days to change it to your real name. If you don't change it, we won't let you use Google+. The main reasons for our policy are that we don't want anonymous trolls, spammers and haters wrecking the service, and also because real names make Google+ a better platform for commerce.
This is my own statement of Google's policy. Google people have never honestly articulated this policy. Instead, Google always couches its policies in euphemisms and misdirection. Their actual policy is so unpalatable that they can't even say it out loud.
Here's Google's disingenuous statement about its real names policy (according to Google+ product manager Saurabh Sharma in a video posted this week):
Google has "asked that those signing up for the service use the name they commonly go by in the real world." The reason? Google wants to "make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with people in the real world."
I respect what Google is trying to do with its real names policy -- at least I have no interest in Google+ descending into some kind of unholy mix between 4chan, YouTube and Chatroulette, where conversations are dominated by hate speech-spewing cowards hiding behind anonymity. And I understand that Google isn't a nonprofit organization -- they want to monetize. That's fair.
But Google's statement is disingenuous on three counts:
1. They're not "asking." It's a requirement. They don't want to say "requiring" because the truth sounds too harsh.
To ask is to imply that you'll respect the person's decision. "Asking" is not what Google is doing. They are "requiring."
Google should be honest and say: "We are requiring that those signing up for the service use the name they commonly go by in the real world."
2. The stated reason for the policy is not the real reason. "More like connecting with people in the real world?" Why? Google's official policy page says it's "so that the people you want to connect with can find you."
But that's not the reason. In fact, that doesn't even make sense. Where in the real world does using my real name let people find me? The phone book? Do they still make phone books? I don't get it.
It's disingenuous of Google to not admit that real names also make Google+ a better environment for civil discussion and a better platform for commerce.
The phony "real world" argument could be used as the reason for everything and anything. "Oh, we're plastering advertising on every conceivable bit of G+ real estate, because we wanted to make Google+ more like the real world."
"We're going to force you to listen to random telephone conversations of people using Google Voice because we wanted to make Google+ more like the real world."
- As Google+ nears 3rd anniversary, where does it go from here?
- Why the social networks are falling apart
- With Gundotra out, changes likely for Google+
- Google+ creator Vic Gundotra is leaving Google
- Google+ popularity jumps with 540M monthly users
- Getting around Google+: 25 tips and tricks for power users
- Getting around Google+: Expand your circles -- and your influence
- Getting around Google+: A guide to the basics
- Google+ updates mobile apps for iPhone, Android
- 500K users flee dead-RSS-walking Google Reader for Feedly
- The DDoS Threat Spectrum Bolstered by favorable economics, today's global botnets are using distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks to target firewalls, web services, and applications, often simultaneously.
- Need to Replace MS Threat Management Gateway? Read this article to learn how F5's Secure Web Gateway solution provides a full set of features that can help you successfully migrate...
- The Shortfall of Network Load Balancing Applications running across networks encounter a wide range of performance, security, and availability challenges as IT department strive to deliver fast, secure access...
- Leave No App Behind with Software Defined Application Services F5 Software Defined Application Services (SDAS) is the next-generation model for delivering application services that enables service injection, consumption, automation, and orchestration across...
- What Does it Take to Deliver a Superior Customer Experience? The Two Top-Rated Online Retailers, B&H Photo and Crutchfield Electronics, Share Their Secrets Discuss practical CX tools and service methods such as contact center agents and the use of realtime speech analytics to help contact center...
- Keep Servers Up and Running and Attackers in the Dark An SSL/TLS handshake requires at least 10 times more processing power on a server than on the client. SSL renegotiation attacks can readily... All Web Apps White Papers | Webcasts