“Mr. Schmidt, how do you justify putting people’s lives in danger and discriminating against people who need to, or simply wish to, preserve some privacy online?”
“The Perfect Order is coming, and you will either be among the elite, or you will be among the common people whose lives are numbered and traded like so many Yu-Gi-Oh cards. Google will not be a Yu-Gi-Oh card! As for the rabble you mention… eh. Their cards have no value, anyway. We can make more money without them than with them.”
I’m at the Edinburgh Intl TV Festival and just got to ask a question to Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarding real names on G+. I asked him how Google justifies the policy given that real identities could put people at risk?
He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information.
Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It’s obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn’t use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government’s own policies, which implies there’s no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.
He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.
(from Andy Carvin, on Google+)
It looks like I am on track to delete my Google+ account at the end of the month. Bonnie Nadri sums up my feelings about this whole thing:
Nice going, Google; in a scant month you’ve turned me from one of your biggest and most vociferously ardent fans into someone who would rather be app-less and out the money I spent in your Android Market than ever as much as think about doing business with you again[...]
(from Google: Thanks… for nothing.)
I am not quite to that point yet, but it’s coming.
“Identity” is not a scalar quantity. Google is attempting to force it to be so. The attempt is doomed, because it’s impossible, but in the meantime, Google is impairing the quality of its service and eroding the good will the company has accrued in the past decade.