The Internet has been for the most part an anonymous place, where users can go about their business without fear of repercussion. Arguments often take place with the participants physically unscathed. It seems that those days are falling by the wayside, for favor of a responsible Internet, in which users are tied directly to their actual identities and will be held accountable for the things they say or do. Google took the lead with this and decided that each of the user profiles would have to be an actual name and not a nickname or the like. Google is also taking steps to let users verify their own identities as soon as they present the proper information.
Since its advent, Google+ users have been restricted to using their own names for their profile, a decision that has been heralded by some but scorned by others. Finally, Google has decided that it will allow nicknames on the social network. Later this week, users will be able to choose alternatives to their own name, in the form of a pseudonym. There is only one thing to be aware of when choosing your name: no matter what you choose to have as a nickname, it will always occur simultaneously with your actual name. Some argue that it should be easier to conceal your identity in order to protect it, but Google is remaining firm in its position to not let you.
Google+ has only been around for seven months, but it is steadfast in forcing users to stick to their real names, adopting a policy similar to Facebook’s. If users did not use their real identities, their accounts would be disabled. This successfully reinforced Google’s clarity on the matter. While at first Google would disable the account unannounced, it later began making the users aware of its actions beforehand.
Now that there are 90 million users and 60% of them want to be able to add a nickname to their own online identity, Google decided to let them. Google is also the destination for businesses who would like to establish themselves with a profile instead of a user page, in the same way Facebook does. Facebook allows users to create profiles with nicknames and change ones name for a set amount of times before reverting back to the original. This is one step away from MySpace which allow users to put whatever they wanted into the name box, with no link to your real name or identity.
If you decide that you want to add an alternate name, it will only be added to your existing name and will not replace it entirely. You will hold onto your own name, regardless of what names you decide to go by. For example, if you want to have the word “sir” as your nickname, the word “sir” will appear inside your own name, like a middle name, or at the end of you name, like a suffix. You can not just have the word “sir” as your name. You can add your nickname easily by going to edit profile and selecting your name and more options.
Don’t forget that Google has implemented a user verification system, which allows users to claim their name once they are able to provide proper verification. You will have to provide a driver’s license as well as other scanned documents in order to do so, but it may give you some piece of mind. Once the user is able to establish a meaningful and authentic following, this user can also be validated, but we are not sure at this time how large this following would have to be in order to gain this title.
This seems like Google is loosening some of its holds on the users of Google+ but it is certainly not a step toward anonymity. Many things go on the Internet that could be prevented if verified names were used and people had to take responsibility for their actions. In the future, we can imagine a place in which the Internet is tied directly to a user’s identity. A user’s identity online will become just as valid as his offline, to be accountable for his actions, whatever they may be.