I have thought about writing a post on this topic, and I may well still do that, but so many have covered it so well already that I probably needn’t bother. And needn’t is not a word I use lightly. Anyway, this is an urgent issue and you can help resolve it but adding to some of the pressure to make Google do the right thing and follow their own motto of “not being evil.” Because right now, they are.

Sign the petition!

Comments

  1. #1 Greg Laden
    August 1, 2011

    I do note that I’ve never seen a more confusing and off putting user interface on a petition. I’m not sure if I was actually able to sign it or now. Anybody got a clue? Anybody out there work for change.org who can ‘splain this please?

  2. #2 Moopheus
    August 1, 2011

    Don’t worry, the government is hard at work making sure that Internet anonymity goes away completely no matter what Google does:

    http://yro.slashdot.org/firehose.pl?op=view&type=story&sid=11/07/29/194213

  3. #3 Cory Albrecht
    August 1, 2011

    Thanks for promoting the petition!

  4. #4 Benno Hansen
    August 1, 2011

    Why force Google? Activities that need anonymity will produce the demand for anonymous sites.

    With anonymity there is no accountability. People should grow up and treat each other properly, using their real names.

    Not signing petition.

  5. #5 Drivebyposter
    August 1, 2011

    With anonymity there is no accountability. People should grow up and treat each other properly, using their real names.

    Clueless much?

  6. #6 Alex Besogonov
    August 1, 2011

    Why clueless?

    You young people might not know, but 20 years ago the largest network was FIDONet. Which _required_ the use of real names AND phone numbers.

    It worked just fine. I still miss the days of FIDO, the quality of discussions was way better than on most Internet forums.

  7. #7 kermit
    August 1, 2011

    So, Alex… did you have many death threats on FIDONet?

    Employers checking FIDO for unpalatable behavior before hiring, dangers of accusations of libel, spam with adware sauce, hackers, oppressive governments, or sexual predators?

    We’ve opened up the dialog to everybody, and perfectly civilized people have reasons to stay anonymous. As with people who do not open the door to every stranger that knocks, we have no moral obligation to do so, nor should we be judged for it.

    “Kermit” is my real name, BTW. But that’s all you’re getting for now.

    I’m sure that the conversation was better then. It’s probably generally more civilized and more interesting in a university coffee shop than a city bar in a bad neighborhood. This is why I spend time in, for instance, several science blogs, but not Yahoo news article threads.

  8. #8 Tom Singer
    August 1, 2011

    I’m 100% okay with Google requiring you to use your real name, although I recognize that there are some rather common issues that might make that problematic (nicknames, for instance, particularly ones that aren’t common derivations of real names).

    Nobody is forcing you to use Google+, or forcing you to make it your only online presence. If you want an anonymous forum to post something, there are plenty of places for you to do that.

    I firmly believe that removing the veil of anonymity would go a long way toward improving discussions online. To that end…

  9. #9 Greg Laden
    August 1, 2011

    Benno, what you say makes total sense. Unless you know what is going on.

  10. #10 Tom Singer
    August 1, 2011

    Greg, what specifically is going on? Your post is the first I’ve heard of anything. You say that others have covered the issue. Can you give a link?

  11. #11 Alex Besogonov
    August 2, 2011

    Kermit:

    “So, Alex… did you have many death threats on FIDONet?
    Employers checking FIDO for unpalatable behavior before hiring, dangers of accusations of libel, spam with adware sauce, hackers, oppressive governments, or sexual predators?”

    There were a few. But they were fairly easy to deal with – because you have real names. And the fact that you can get punched in the face IRL really tended to calm discussions.

    So I stand by my opinion. Real-name communication is good for a lot of purposes. It might not be good if you’re trying to overthrow a government, but then why should we design EVERY tool to be useful in overthrowing a government?

  12. #12 pornonymous
    August 4, 2011

    Thanks for highlighting this issue–one of the many reasons I come back to your blog!
    The writer says anonymity is needed for “Civil servants, rape survivors, whistle-blowers, and transgendered individuals are immediate examples of people who want privacy to protect themselves from attacks and abuse from others who do not agree with what they are saying or doing or have experienced.”

    But he forgets to mention dissidents, male rape survivors, ex-cons, and those who are under constant scrutiny–like peace activists and anarchists.

  13. #13 Lyle
    August 6, 2011

    Recall in 1993 the theme was that the internet would make the world a village. Guess what no ability to post anonymously is what you would have if you spoke in a village. Everyone would know you. It is only the city that allows people to be anonymous. A village of a few hundred means that everyone knows everyone, we have technology now to make that the entire world. Likewise in a village peoples comings and goings were observed by little old ladies who then gossiped about them. Thats really the old fashioned survellance camera. So chalk this up to the unanticipated consequences of making the global village, everyone knows everyone’s business in the global village. If you don’t like it just like in the village you keep your trap shut.