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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Post from gwensutton at CHUMLY

[Resent id=11498784 2011-08-07 03:02:30 from johngotts] Why Facebook and Google's Concept of 'Real Names' Is Revolutionary - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic: www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/08/why...43171

NOTE: (Snippet from the article)
in real life, we expect very few statements to be public, persistent, and attached to your real identity. Basically, only people talking on television or to the media can expect such treatment. And even then, the vast majority of their statements don't become part of the searchable Internet.

Online, Google and Facebook require an inversion of this assumed norm. Every statement you make on Google Plus or Facebook is persistent and strongly attached to your real identity through your name. Both services allow you to change settings to make your statements more or less public, which solves some problems. However, participating in public life on the services requires attaching your name to your statements. On the boulevards and town squares of Facebook, you can't just say, "Down with the government," with the knowledge that only a small percentage of the people who hear you could connect your statement to you. But the information is still being recorded, presumably in perpetuity. That means that if a government or human resources researcher or plain old enemy wants to get a hold of it, it is possible.

The pseudonym advocates note that being allowed to pick and choose a different name solves some of these problems. One can choose to tightly couple one's real-world identity and online identity... or not. One can choose to have multiple identities for separate networks. In the language we were using earlier, pseudonyms allow statements to be public and persistent, but not attached to one's real identity.

I can understand why Google and Facebook don't want this to happen. It's bad for their marketing teams. It generates social problems when people don't act responsibly under the cloak of their assumed identity. It messes up the clarity and coherence of their data. And maybe those costs do outweigh the benefits pseudonymity brings to social networks.

But then let's have that conversation. Let's not pretend that what Google and Facebook are doing has long-established precedents and therefore these companies are only doing what they're doing to mimic real life. They are creating tighter links between people's behavior and their identities than has previously existed in the modern world.
NOTE: end of snippet > more info in the actual article.


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