Nymwars

  • 7 August 2011

Facebook and Google+ have rekindled the Nymwars, the fight for or against the use of pseudonyms. The policy of requiring „real names“ is questionable at best. There is a web site called My Name Is Me which can illustrate this point better than I can in my blog posting. The use of pseudonyms pre-dates the Internet by hundreds of years. Authors use false names. Journalists hide their identity. Most people usually don’t wear name tags or badges when shopping or going for a walk. Even children learn to use pseudonyms in kindergarten or in school.

Danah Boyd explains in her article that “Real names” policies aren’t empowering; they’re an authoritarian assertion of power over vulnerable people, which expresses what the policy is about. It makes perfectly sense. Facebook, Google+ and all other real name zealots use the policy as a filter. Their social networks should only be used by persons who gladly give away their privacy. If you are reluctant to reveal your true name, then you are not part of the target audience. Remember, Facebook get mined for information, Google+ is driven by a very big advertising company. Both business models require participants to be open and exploitable.

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