Google’s latest attempt at a social network is Google+. After only a few weeks of being in a private beta, there are already 18+ million people registered on the network.
On Google+, Google requires that you provide your real, full name when making your account. While this may not prove to be a problem for most users, those under the internt’s limelight that don’t want their real name out there for all to see may find this requirement of Google’s to be a dilemma.
MuscleNerd has been a prominent member of the iPhone Dev-Team for years, and he is responsible for many of the achievements related to unlocking the iPhone. With almost 230,000 followers on Twitter, MuscleNerd is definitely an influential and well-respected member of the jailbreak community.
After signing up for Google+ under his online name, MuscleNerd received a notification today that his account had been suspended. The creator of Cydia, Jay “saurik” Freeman, addressed this problem with Google banning the use of pseudonyms in a lengthy post from his own Google+ account.
“In the last couple days, Google has taken to quite actively enforcing its “real name” rule, banning or suspending accounts (with many reports of users getting locked out of all of Google, as opposed to just +) with names that “look funny” (such as including symbols, “including period”), as well as actively suspending accounts of users who use non-real names.
However, when you live on the Internet, a lot of things get even hazier: almost everyone I deal with has both a “real name” and at least one handle of some form. I don’t just mean hackers here: I mean people I met in college who are writers, and interact with entire communities online via a pen name.
These people do not consider it appropriate to put their real name up for anyone on the Internet to view, and certainly find it scary (in the “am I going to attract stalkers to find where I live and make my life horrible” sense) to attach their name to an actual picture of themselves, as websites like Google+ encourage.”
This issue with the merging of one’s real and online identity proves to be a big one for people like MuscleNerd that have maintained an air of anonymity on the internet for so long. In fact, most hackers operate under contrived “usernames” online to keep their real identity a secret.
“One specific person I know in this situation is not a writer, but is instead a hacker (of course in the good sense of “making things possible”): MuscleNerd, a very famous member of the iPhone Dev Team (with almost 230,000 followers on Twitter). MuscleNerd is an example of someone who is almost entirely known by his handle, a situation quite unlike the oft cited Lady Gaga: despite most people not recognizing her real name, we at least know that it is “Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta”.
In this case, however, despite the fact that millions of people worldwide know who he is and hundreds of thousands of people care enough about what he says to follow him on Twitter, MuscleNerd’s real name is something that most people, by a vast majority, not only would not recognize, but have never heard… despite having worked with him for years on various projects, I haven’t even heard it.”
It will be interesting to see Google’s reaction to the suspension of MuscleNerd’s account, and I wonder if Google+ will eventually allow people to operate under pseudonyms with full permission.
Does it bother you that Google is enforcing such a policy? Will this practice of maintaing a separate, “online” identity be able to continue as social networks become more transparent? Let us know your thoughts below.