Google+ Nymwars – On How to Fear a Name

GeekMom Technology

If you are using the Google+ social network, then you probably have heard the stories of people having their Google+ accounts, along with all their other Google accounts, locked. This has caused quite a stir throughout the internet as well as causing a lot of fear and speculation.

I’m one of those people who is afraid. I have a secret you see. Mandy isn’t really my name. Legally it is Amanda. But I’m not very fond of that name and I hardly use it at all. I did think about changing it legally to Mandy when I changed my name after I was married, but opted not to. And obviously the Chaos part of my name is also not a legal name.

When I first joined Google+, I had my Chaos in front of my real name. There are a lot of people who just know me as Chaos Mandy, and I figured that it would be an easy way to let people know it is me. After the news came out of people having name issues, I quickly changed it. I’m not so concerned about getting blocked out of Google+, but I am concerned that it would translate to my Gmail account which is my main email.

There is a lot of concern due to pen names, using maiden names and even using common nicknames like my Mandy. Google did put out a statement that they would going to warn people and then give them four days to fix their name in Google+. Despite this, there are still reports of people getting banned from their Google services without a grace period.

For me, it’s really disappointing because Google+ is really a great social networking site. But I think all of this name drama is going to make people be wary about even trying it.

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8 thoughts on “Google+ Nymwars – On How to Fear a Name

  1. My story is pretty identical. My Facebook is linked to my blog, so those that know me personally also know me under my pseudonym. I figured that it would be fine to put as my G+ name, until the bans started. I’ve already changed it, and actually feel mildly uncomfortable having my real name out there where even people I don’t know can find it.

  2. I feel like this post could have gone further – what about trans folks whose legal names could out them as being trans? What about women who suffer harassment on the internet just for being women? What about people who have stalkers, or violent/abusive exes who are trying to find them or find information about them in order to continue to abuse them?

  3. I use TechyDad online since I often post about my kids. (This anonymity came in handy when I had to deal with an online stalker.) When it came time to sign up for Google+, I found myself torn. Do I put in my real name, thus destroying my anonymity? Or do I put in a fake name (“TechyDad”, my initials or something else) and risk being cut off of my Gmail account and other services I use?

    The kicker is, Google could solve this easily. I laid this out how here: http://www.techydad.com/2011/07/anonymity-and-the-google-circle/

    Short version is: Require real names but then let people set who gets to see their real names and who gets to see nicknames that you set. So my blogging circle would see me as “TechyDad”, my family would see me under my real name and other people might see me under other nicknames. (There’s a minor problem of people in multiple circles, but I’m confident Google could solve that easily.)

    1. Assigning nicknames to circles? Perfect solution, IMHO.

      I really wish Google would stop following the Zuckerbergs’ lead in this regard, but it might be for the same reasons: so those with the $$$ (and want more $$$) have free access to bother and pitch to you.

      1. The beauty of nicknames-to-circles would be that everyone wins. Users win by not having to show everyone their real name (unless they wanted to). Google wins by getting everyone’s real name and being able to use it when displaying advertising. (Google would know that John Smith and johnny12345 were the same person even if other people didn’t.)

  4. Well I caved to Google’s demands, although, really, I use my username QUITE consistently, and it remains 100% unique (while my real name, at least minus my middle name, is NOT unique). I do not currently worry about anonymity, as my electronic trail is too well established, and all search hits for “jaklumen” point to material I can verify I have written.

    Granted, there are some people in my up-close-and-personal world that do not know me as “jaklumen”, but most anyone reasonably Internet-savvy recognizes that name. I am quite upset because Google’s insistence strips that identity from most, if not all, of my Google services (or at least obscures that identity).

  5. Google says the use of your nickname is perfectly fine. I’m not sure what the fuss is about. From their names policy: “For example, if your legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, any of these would be acceptable.”

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