Should Google+ Require You to Use Your Real Name?
Google started culling Google+ accounts. There are two main targets: businesses and those who are using pseudonyms. For businesses, Google is promising to provide their own version of Facebook Pages, which will be released later this year. For those who use pseudonyms, they aren't so lucky. According to Google+'s community standards, users must "use the name your friends, family, or co-workers usually call you". The purpose of this rule is ostensibly to discourage spammers and people from setting up fake profiles.
A user of Google+ found his account suspended because he did not use his real name (or something that sounded like one). Opensource Obscure, who uses this pseudonym in all his online activities, has not been able to regain his account, and it's kickstarting an important discussion about online identities, anonymity, pseudonyms, and real names.
Facebook and LinkedIn also require the use of real names in order to use their social networks. Twitter does not, although they do verify accounts to authenticate the identities of users such as actors and journalists. For the major social networks, having members with their real names can foster a real sense of community, and encourage accountability. Organizations such as NPR have had to spend time and resources to address spammers and "trolls" - commenters who waste time provoking for the sake of attention rather than discussion.
On the flip side, people use pseudonyms for different reasons. You can establish a more concrete online identity with a pseudonym. My own experience bears this out—search for my real name on Google and you'll find about 50 Kimberly Laus. But there's only one "toastykitten". Some people prefer to separate their online identities from their "real" lives with a pseudonym. Others, especially women, may choose to use pseudonyms to avoid harassment. (From +Adele Shakal, a 2006 study found that people who used female names online received 25 times as many malicious messages as those who used male names.)
Should Google+ enforce the no-pseudonym rule? Or do people have a right to use pseudonyms on Google+?