Friday, August 05, 2011

suspended for not being 'real'

Seems my G+ account has been suspended. (been expecting for a while
since the 'names' thing arose).

I have had a gmail account (and many others besides) in this name, since
gmail came into the game. this has not been an issue anywhere else for,
oh, the 20+ years i have used it.

on what basis are random people (algorithms?) 'assessing' 'common names'?

it is quite *legal* in common law countries for people to adopt names
other than the one(s) on their birth certificate. the name i am using
here *is* a 'legal name'.

how does google propose to verify the 'legalness' of names? do we all
front up at a google office with birth certificates and so forth? or
does it come down to the name *looking* 'legal'? on what criteria? it is
perfectly legal to name a child, or change one's name formally, to a
single word as either firstname or surname. in some cultures, it is
possible to never have had more than a one word name. it is also
possible to be named Angel Angel Angel, or Hoopy Frood, or Teary
Elasmoblast Smith - and so on.

i have been known by several 'absurd' names in my life. primary school
'chums' are likely to remember the names they called me better than some
formal name. most of us didn't know each others surnames, for example.
(plus, decades have passed by. i'm more likely to be reminded by a
'stinky pinky' or a 'princess bluebell' or a 'horseface' than i am say
by some 'steve pinkerton', 'amy grant', or 'melody kariannais').

how does google propose to compensate people who the expect to give up
the use of a common law name on their services? one that may have built
significant online (and offline) good will and recognition? many people
have only known me by this name. for others, it is how they find me
online. other names i am known by, in other contexts, are either less
unique, or have different meanings/purposes. i have no interest in
collapsing or cross-linking names that have been associated with me for
decades into a single persona - if i wanted to do that i would have done
so years ago.

humans identify one another by their connections with others (aunt,
dave's mate, mother-in-law), not their credentials. friends of friends,
not unverified assertions or claims to associations that google cannot
verify. people know who they know. and online, we interact with 'real'
and 'virtual' personas all the time. google cannot 'protect' us from
others over whom you have no real control. sure google can suspend or
pull accounts. but since they've devalued the first as a form of
penalty, they're diluting what little 'control' they do have.

a policy that *prefers* the use of common names is great. it would be
*better* to have policies regarding genuine behaviour than getting mired
in this 'real' names tar pit. it is not my 'name' that assures people i
am genuine, it is my behaviour. google ought to focus on that: google
has a lot more scope to assess behaviour (something they actually
already do) than unknown credentials from every country on the planet
(including a bunch that no longer exist).

There are a lot of assumptions embedded in google's policy - ones that
tell me a lot about the design of google's system and the thinking of
their designers - but also how very little google has learned from being
a global enterprise. "names in a single language"? parents can freely
give their children names in multiple languages. it might be better to
ask for names to be 'expressed in a single alphabet' if that is what was

how i behave, and the relationships i build, are the key to my
'identity', not my 'name' - that's merely a label. i am not loosing my
'identity' for google's administrative convenience.

Posted via email from maelorin's posterous


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