My Google Plus account is about to be once again deleted, so I thought I republish here my “About” page.
I wrote the following in response to a request from a Googler to report “obviously fake names”, before July 25, when my account was suspended and August 5, when it was reinstated with no comment:
Darn.. Open season on my kind..
Well, here’s why I deeply resent this idea. Enforcing “real names”, apart from being silly, is impossible. It would cause people to give up “obviously fake” names and take “less obviously fake” names.
I can understand a policy of banning accounts that belong to for-profit corporations but if someone chooses a non-corporate identity for making a statement or just for fun that should be allowed.
I chose my name for many reasons. Here’s a few:
1. I believe that reputations are overrated (see ipse dixit )
2. In a market of ideas, one’s ideas should be able to stand up to scrutiny on their own and not because there’s a particular name behind them.
3. My name represents my choice of believing that Evolution is more believable than competing theories. Furthermore, some of our atavistic instincts and darker side are probably impossible to erase; at best, they can be muted.
4. I sign articles and comments on blogs with my nickname, I use it on Facebook, Twitter and nearly all other manifestations of my online presence. It has truly become my online identity and want to keep it this way. This is covered by Google policy of “it can be a nickname if others call you that”.
5. The fact that I have no credit card or mortgage associated with my online name is a security bonus.
6. I might feel that some entities may be hogging uncomfortably large amounts of info about me. By using a nom de plume I still give out the valuable data of social connectivity, I just make it a bit more difficult to tie it in with a particular identity.
7. I might be working in a profession or go through certain life circumstances where anything I say or do, even the most innocent words or actions, might be held against me. Without the protection of anonymity (or the weaker protection of an obviously fake, but permanent pseudonym) my voice would be silenced.
And if my voice would be silenced, so would a thousand other voices, at once. Wouldn’t that be a great disturbance in the Force ?!?
Privacy / anonymity is a right, not a privilege or “feature”.