Why Google should allow anonymous/pseudonymous names on Google+

Here’s some feedback I just submitted to Google about its seeming decision to enforce a “real name” policy on Google+.

Hi there,via a couple of friends of mine who are using Google+, I understand that Google is starting to enforce a “real name” policy for Google+. I’m really disappointed if this is the case.

Many people online choose to use pseudonyms to keep their professional life separate from their personal life or hobbies. Or they are trying to protect themselves from abuse. As a woman who’s written about feminism online and received anonymous hatemail and death threats for doing so, I would like to preserve my right to post under a pseudonym to keep myself safe in the real world and if I choose, so I’m not identified as a woman online in places where it might not be safe to do so. I don’t believe that getting rid of anonymity online will stop bad behaviour like the abuse and death threats I’ve received. I do think that getting rid of anonymity and pseudonymity online will make it easier for people like myself to become targets of abuse and potentially put us in danger.

Quoting from the Geek Feminism blog post on Pseudonymity:

“Persistent pseudonyms (those used over many years and perhaps across multiple sites) can accrue social capital and respect just as “real” names can, and be subject to the same social pressures towards civil behaviour if the community has a strong culture of respect. Without a culture of respect, real names won’t help. With it, real names won’t matter.”

Thank you for listening to my feedback, I hope you will change your policy and allow anonymous and pseudonymous accounts on Google+ (which. by the way, I’m loving so far). Cheers!Sarah Stokely (my real name!)

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