How does Google justifies the policy given that real identities could put people at risk? Well, Google+ was built primarily as an identity service and will be used to help Google build future products, Schmidt said.
In a Google+ post, NPR’s Andy Carvin, summarized the Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt response to a question about Google’s real name policy at the Edinburgh International TV Festival. Carvin said that Schmidt replied:
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… 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.
Google admits their name policy “may not be for everyone at this time.” If your profile is suspended, you lose “full use of Google services that require an active profile” (e.g., Google+, Buzz, Reader, and Picasa). You won’t lose access to Gmail. To regain access, you have to edit your name to Google’s liking and submit an appeal. According to Google, the guidelines for avoiding an account suspension include:
- Using your full first and last name in a single language.
- Put nicknames or pseudonyms in the Other Names field.
- Avoid unusual characters in your name.
- Your profile and name must represent one individual.
- Don’t use the name of another individual.
Venture capitalist Fred Wilson responded to Schmidt’s comments writing:
“It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them. And the answer to why you need to use your real name in the service is because they need you to.”
John Battelle also commented saying that, “I must say, this whole debate will seem quaint in a few years. What matters is trust. A name does not always equate with trust. Identity is more than a name.”