Google+: The beginning of the end

It was not so long ago that I raved about the coming of Google+ and my desire to rid myself of Facebook now that a sensible social network was in town. Now I am eating my words. Following Violet Blue’s many Google+ posts I had to write something.

That’s not to say that Google+ doesn’t have the potential to be a great social network, to bring Facebook’s reign to an end and provide a space for you to be yourself, whichever self you fancy being. It just seems that Google don’t share the vision that many of the early adopters of Google+ do. Instead it would seem that they are much more a “my way or the highway” company, even with the failures of Wave and Buzz so close in their rear-view mirror. The teenage attitude that the Google+ have adopted will be its downfall, again, as masses of users are either deleted for ToS violations or leave before the former happens.

The killer will, of course, be it’s “real names” policy. I have seen very little, if anything, positive about Google+ since it began enforcing this particular rule, and, while I still currently have my G+ account I am seriously considering deletion before I get caught. You see, I don’t use my “real name” on there. Partly for a degree of privacy; I do not wish my family to be associated with my, mostly controversial, opinions or to become victims of any form of abuse due to my mental health problems, sexual choices or political feelings. But partly, it’s also a lot easier for people to find me if I use my online name.

Since re-branding the blog, in fact since starting up my new twitter account, I have been known as “Mrs TeePot.” Indeed this is how many people refer to me, it’s how people introduce me at Blog events, it is, as far as the majority know, my name. I have a Facebook account in this name, a twitter account, a Youtube account, indeed across the internet you will find me spouting my opinions under this handle. It’s me. It feels like me and it represents me, more so than my birth name.

The reason it represents me so well is that it comes with none of the history that my birth name does. It has allowed me to cultivate a presence that is truly me, as I am now, free of the mistakes of my childhood, teenage years and any judgement that may come with them. Under my chosen name I am free to be myself, to express my true opinions and evolve as a person, away from the fear that comes with having ones “oops” moments associated with their real name. Because, while I am in no way ashamed of my mental health, sexual preferences or anything else, if I find myself in a position where I can work then it will affect my job prospects and I would rather be hired on my merit than rejected because I openly speak about my struggles.

My online name and persona is the “real me,” because it is free of the constraints that come with being a “real person” and it is also a person who I am proud of and by forcing me, or anyone else, to use their birth name Google are destroying my ability to be myself.

Disappointed doesn’t seem to cover my feelings, especially after my excitement at getting an invite, and with Facebook’s privacy farce continuing a large part of me wants to disappear from social networking altogether. Of course, the sensible thing would be to create a new social network which takes the best of each and embraces the freedom that a level of anonymity can provide. Sadly I am lacking in almost all the skills required to make that happen, but surely someone out there is working on a network where privacy and the needs of the users comes before rules and regulations that make it pointless?

7 comments

  1. Weewifie @ One Epic Holiday

    Excellently worded post! I totally agree with you here on all you’ve said. I just don’t get that real names policy… You could say your name is Jane Smith… A “real name” but not YOUR name… So this real name business is really stupid for that too. What if you change your name by deed poll to Livi Teepot? Is THAT “real” then?! It’s pathetic…

    If you want to keep your social sites secret from friends and family then using a pseudonym is essential. Google – GET WITH THE TIMES! Get rid of this stupid rule. I could make myself Joanna Jones and I’d NOT BE THAT NAME – yet it’s a real name. So what’s the issue with other names – when that’s ACTUALLY what they’re known by?!

    1. Mrs TeePot

      Thanks chuck. Exactly. It hasn’t cut down spam because spammers are just picking real sounding names instead of the usual rubbish you get, so in actual fact they’re harder to weed out!

  2. SirStompsalot

    What I find confusing is that people seem to be forgetting that while yes Google+ does enforce the real name policy, so does Facebook; the other name mentioned in your post. The difference is that Facebook has 750M active users – http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics – so its much more difficult to enforce. There was one particular event I remember: http://www.scribbal.com/2011/03/facebooks-real-name-policy-not-well-liked/

    Personally I do not agree with the policy. I agree with many of the reasons listed here http://infotrope.net/2011/07/25/preliminary-results-of-my-survey-of-suspended-google-accounts/ and I hate the fact that Google has gone from its “do no evil” to being the tyrant we love to hate.

    But I don’t think you’re accurate in the “my way or the highway” analogy. Its not teenaged behavior. Its ego. That’s it. Somewhere, someone sat down and decided it was now policy to require real names; perhaps it was met with opposition, perhaps not. Perhaps it was the topic of heated discussion, but I doubt it. The point is that it stuck. In Google you have the ability to provide your avatar based name, but that’s not enough.

    I encourage you to join in on the My Name Is Me campaign http://my.nameis.me/ – I have such fond memories of Google. I for one, am not willing to give up on them just yet. They may still come around.

    In the words of Danah Boyd “Personally, I’m ecstatic to see this much outrage.” – http://www.zephoria.org/thoughts/archives/2011/08/04/real-names.html

    -S

    1. Mrs TeePot

      I’ve heard of Facebook removing pages and things but not of them enforcing their “real names” policy. In fact I have a FB account in my online name with no problems and have used my nickname on there before for years.

      Ego it may be, in that they think they are too big for people to reject them, but it also comes off as a teenage strop. That refusal to change or even take into account another’s feelings reeks of that over-hormonal teenage phase!

      I can see why you don’t agree with the sudden flip from Google-love to Google-loathe but, for me at least, I see their actions on this as a reflection of their company values and evidently they do not value their customer

  3. Molly

    Well said Mrs T. I am in exactly the same boat to be honest. I am Molly, to everyone online, and even to some of my RL friends but it is not my real given name. I do have a google + profile but have not really used it for just the reasons you state. I am nervous they will delete me and potentially all my other google products too. They also seem to be running a zero tolerance policy on adult content….yet it is a social network site for adults….hmmm.

    I am just watching and waiting at the moment to see if they get their heads out their arse or not….one way will result in success the other I am pretty sure will result in failure of google+ to develope into anything meaningful.

    Mollyxxx

    1. Mrs TeePot

      This is the thing that baffles me! If you put your “real” name online no one would know who you were! So surely that defeats the purpose of their policy as they claim it stops abuse of anonymity be forcing people to be recognisable, but under your read name you could say whatever because no one would know who you are!

  4. Steve (SJF102)

    Whilst i agree with not using real names (i myself have done it in the past) i am known to MOST of online “friends” as either SJ or SF (my previous email address) i’m also known as SJF which happen to be my initials. I have no secrets so people knowing my real name isn’t a problem and i can be who i am without having to worry about family as i don’t really care what they think. People either like me or they don’t i can’t help being me. Enough rambling and back to the point.

    I can see why Google and FB want to enforce real names in that it cuts the chances of them being attack in papers and other media for “hiding” perverts and the like but the majority of people are not like that at all. What it should do is to have a policy where you have to tell them your name but the only name that comes up is the one that you are known by or you want people to see. In that respect i could let them know that my real name is Steve Farndale (although that technically is wrong because on my birth cert is says SteveN) Only my mum and missus call me that and even then only when i’ve done something wrong. Being online is many things to many people and i think that no matter what a company does means they’re dammed in some way or other. I think it is a question of either do it or leave. Which is pretty much the choice in nearly everything we do. There has to be rules and regs (just like having to put your email address in order to post on here)If you don’t like it then just don’t do it and or use it.

    Steve 😀
    xxxx
    xxxxx

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: