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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Do You Use Your Real Name Online?

Anonymity and identity are both extremely important parts of the web today, and as social networks and verified identities become more commonplace, we're wondering: Do you use a pseudonym on the web, or do you use your real name?

Google has faced some criticism over its policy of disabling Google+ accounts belonging to users who aren't using their real names. This is an issue that Facebook has dealt with in the past, and Google says they're considering relaxing the name rules, they haven't promised anything. They have, however, said they'll do better at notifying users first, and implied they're okay with "common names," or names good enough no one will think they're not real. The whole hubbub got us wondering:

Do You Use Your Real Name Online?
All the time
Depends, but I lean towards real
Depends, but I lean towards anonymous

Some of us use our real names for professional reasons, but even many of us who use a pseudonym or nickname use the same one in multiple places so we can be easily identified (myself included). In many cases, real names make community members and moderators accountable for the things they say, which, for example, is one reason why many sites prefer using Facebook-powered comments.

Even so, there are other very good reasons to stay anonymous online, whether it's because you live in a place where it's not safe to speak freely, you're commenting on a topic you don't want others who know you to see, you're a member of a minority group, or you're just new to a community and don't want to go in with both feet yet.

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