Dear Google: I do NOT want to be on Google Plus (unless)


Nazi book burning memorial, Göttingen. Photo by chrisjtse on Flickr.
Dear Google:

I do NOT want to be on Google Plus unless you fix your policy with regard to psudonyms.  I hope I can succeed in this, or find some solution to our mutual benefit.  My optimism is flagging, however; it seems you miss the main point.

Pseudonymity is a right.  Privacy is precious.  Please do not continue on in this manner, forcing me to have to find a workaround to use my own Youtube account.  This is silly.  And sad.

Here are a couple authors who have said it better than I feel I can at the moment:


from
Google+ and the right to use an alias 
Bruce Byfield
Linux Magazine


While it is true that many trolls are anonymous, in this day of free accounts like Gmail's, registering a plausible-sounding pseudonym is as easy as registering a legal name. The same goes for spammers, as a look through your Trash folder at the end of a day can easily prove.

Perhaps those who never use a pseudonym might think about the issue as many do about privacy: If you are doing nothing wrong, then why do you need privacy or a pseudonym?

Well, to start with, under the law of the United States and many other countries, using an alias is completely legal so long as you are not using it to commit fraud. A few other restrictions apply in many jurisdictions -- for instance, you generally can't use an alias to cause confusion between you and a celebrity, or use an obscene or racist name. However, generally speaking, even common law names (ones that are not officially registered, but are widely used) take on a certain legal acceptance, just as a common law relationship assumes many of the privileges and obligations of a registered marriage.

Even more importantly, the right to use a pseudonym can be a protection for a surprisingly wide variety of people. A recent article begun by Skud on the Geek Feminism wiki entitled "Who Is Harmed by a 'Real Name' Policy?" gives so many examples that it immediately convinced me that my fuzzy, unexamined thoughts about pseudonyms needed to be revised.

With the help of reader comments and revisions, Skud lists dozens of people who might benefit from using a pseudonym. They include people who face discrimination, bullying, harassment or assault, including women and LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) people, and people with disabilities and other minorities. Others include people with non-mainstream views, survivors of abuse, victims of crimes, those accused of crimes, political dissidents, whistle-blowers, the famous seeking anonymity, or people whose online activity is limited as a condition of their employment.

For these and other legitimate reasons, tens of thousands -- possibly millions -- might choose a pseudonym. And whether anyone thinks they should, in many countries they have a right to, regardless of whether Google employees or anyone else thinks they should. It's really that simple.
And let's not even go into the fact that anonymous writing has a long and often honorable history, such as the debates over the American Constitution that resulted in the Federalist Papers.

As Skud summarized to me, to all appearances, "Google's names policy is short-sighted and discriminatory, and their processes and communication about it are a complete train wreck."
Yet, despite the short-terms problems it is causing many people, perhaps Google's name policy will be a long-term, indirect benefit. Especially if Google refuses to back down or clarify, these events may make people think twice before entrusting their on-line future to Google or to any other corporation via cloud services.

Even more importantly, it may alert other people -- as it did me -- to why the use of pseudonyms online is not a fringe concern. Instead, it's a right that should be defended by anyone who cares about the freedom of the Internet.

Read more



Who Are We?
George Washington 
Washington's Blog

Numerous people have asked us who writes Washington's Blog and why we write under a pen name.
In fact, some of the leading writers have used pen names.

As one of the best financial writers - Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge - points out (edited slightly for readability):
Though often maligned (typically by those frustrated by an inability to engage in ad hominem attacks), anonymous speech has a long and storied history in the United States. Used by the likes of Mark Twain (aka Samuel Langhorne Clemens) to criticize common ignorance, and perhaps most famously by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay (aka publius) to write the Federalist Papers, we think ourselves in good company in using one or another nom de plume.

Particularly in light of an emerging trend against vocalizing public dissent in the United States, we believe in the critical importance of anonymity and its role in dissident speech.

Like the Economist magazine, we also believe that keeping authorship anonymous moves the focus of discussion to the content of speech and away from the speaker - as it should be. We believe not only that you should be comfortable with anonymous speech in such an environment, but that you should be suspicious of any speech that isn't.
I am a busy professional, a former adjunct professor, an American and a family man. I am post-partisan: I don't think either the Republican or Democratic parties represent the interests of the people as opposed to the big banks, major corporations, and the military-industrial complex.

But my background is less important than the fact that I provide links to document everything I say, so you can check its accuracy for yourself.

Read more


Wikipedia unhelpfully says "Pseudonyms are most usually adopted to hide an individual's real identity.... A pseudonym may also be used for purely personal reasons when an individual feels the context and content of the exchange offer no reason, legal or otherwise, to provide their given or legal name.[citation needed]." While the matter of that may be true, I find the color borders on offense; I would edit it, but the edit button is curiously missing for the first section of their entry.  (I hope that has something to do with how many times I have posted, and is not for some darker reason. )

Doubtless you know all this, having indexed it.  Perhaps you will listen.

"Wo man Bücher verbrennt, verbrennt man auch am Ende Menschen." Quote by Heinrich Heine, Nazi book burning memorial, Göttingen.  Photo by David Little Reynard on Flikr.

Be seeing you.