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Eric Schmidt: If You Don't Want To Use Your Real Name, Don't Use Google+

 12:39 am on Aug 29, 2011 (gmt 0)

Eric Schmidt: If You Donít Want To Use Your Real Name, Donít Use Google+

Google+ was meant to be an identity service, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said this weekend, shedding some light on Googleís reasoning behind Google+ís controversial real-name policy.




 3:39 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

For such a large group, of incredibly talented and smart people they sure do have some odd quirks. One of those quirks is a serious stubborn streak. The Canadian pharmacy situation was an exercise in telling a child 15 times not to touch the hot stove. They were clearly told over and over to stop doing what they were doing; yet they just continued on (all the while knowing it was way over the line).

The whole sensitivity around privacy is another thing they just don't seem to want to accept on the same level as their user base; (Google Buzz, street maps, mobile phone location data, ect, ect, ect.)

The feedback on this issue is continuous, loud and clear; yet they just choose not to listen to it.


 3:40 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm curious about this claim. Can you source it? I suspect that it's not the search history alone that's enough.

The AOL 'anonymized' data dump they did years ago and released on the web. Search history alone identified a number of people. And from there, all sorts of data that they wouldn't want known.

You either have a fairly unique name, or are well-known enough that your name is commonly associated with you, specifically.

Neither. You know they found personal details of Eric Schmidt online just by searching right?

This isn't that difficult, not nearly as difficult as you suggest.

Just from this forum, people know that I don't live in a large city. They know I sell some type of niche product online. They know some general details about my social/family situation. Throw in my name into a search and determining which individual I am is easy. then throw in the fact that I ran for a local political office and they publish personal details online, and you've got my home address and cellphone number. And with my previous ISP, if you did a reverse lookup of my home IP, you got my name - so you could get all this info just from my visiting your site and you checking your logs.

Throw in some other cross connections that could be made, and you end up not just with a unique identity, but a pretty complete picture.

No wonder I post as little personal information online as I can, and don't let my kids post anything online at all. What's worse is that this stuff is going to be around for decades to come - heck even the crankiness of my posts might come back and bite me in the future.


 4:08 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I've always used my real name (though my legal name is M.-J. Taylor, with periods and a hyphen). But I use my name everywhere, rather than my corporate business name or some other alias. I have some concerns about the 'big brother' aspect of Google's pervasiveness in my life. 1984 is a little late, but it seems to be very close to manifestation. I wonder: better Google than the Government?


 6:09 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Hopefully using real names will stick. I more than fine with that, I am not sure how they can enforce it but I am glad that they want to.

I can't understand why some on here are upset with his request. It is a simple request,use the site as intended, or don't use it at all.

It is amazing how every Google thread no matter the topic on this site descends into bashing all aspects of Google.

Eric releases a statement on the terms or service for Google+ and people are complaining about WMT tools requesting a phone number for account retrieval. Wonderful insight on the topic thanks!

just why do they feel they have the right to do this?

Are you freaking serious?!?! What right do they have? It is their website, they get to define the terms in which we use it. Google + profiles aren't a right protected under some law. If you want to use the site, use your real name, if you don't want to do that THEN DON'T USE THE SITE.

Some of you sound like spoiled little brats.

If one of you made a TOS saying that a user's email has to be their actual email address and not a fake one would you consider comments like "Don't tell me what to do" or "Don't you respect privacy" as valid? Or would you say "Don't like it, don't use my site"


 6:28 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I can't understand why some on here are upset with his request. It is a simple request,use the site as intended, or don't use it at all.

Nobody's upset. We're saying we won't use it. Then we're predicting failure. Because while you and Eric Schmidt maybe don't think being anonymous online matters :), everyone else cares a whole bunch. The project is doomed from the outset.

Why do you think Google cares if you use your real name? Clearly the default everywhere else is anonymous. Google either has a principle they're trying to push, or it's for business reasons. I could care less about their principles (and that's not it anyway) and I have a serious disinterest in giving Google my name for their marketing efforts, or whoever they choose to sell my data to.

In terms of being upset, I bought an android phone. In order to use it (I find this out afterwards) I have to sign up for an account at Google's marketplace. And they want my gmail account. So now they can tie my phone useage into my gmail account. I don't want that - yet there it is. All they need is my credit card info if I decide to buy. yet that's not what they want. So I'm now a bit upset because I bought a product and now I'm forced to reveal private info to Google - and I really don't think it's any of their business.

Worse, they got my kid to sign up for a gmail account in order to log on. He did that prior to my catching it. No bid deal right, except that's data on him they'll have for the next 50 years, data they didn't need in order to provide the service.


 7:31 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is a fine line between building a property to provide a service and building a property to harvest real personal data. Google is now, as Eric admits, doing only the later. Creepy uncle as netmeg calls it is a perfect analogy, Mr Schmidt himself admitted to pushing the creepy line a few months ago. I know none of my family members will trust or use a Google product knowingly anymore and they've switched over to Bing search (and like it).

You have to admit, Google is being a bully here, if they can't have your personal information they have no interest in you anymore.


 7:42 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm totally confused by all the objections. I have websites and they contain my email address, telephone number and address. Of course they do because I want people to interact with me about my websites. I have received masses of insulting email comments about my web sites but never received an insulting phone call about them - complaints yes,

And it's law that newsletters contain a real address.

Anonymity, if you have a website, is the dream of a fool. So why not give Google your name for a product they own, why keep it secret? If I own a shop on the high street my name appears in all the legal documents both published in the shop (by law) and all over the place. Why is the internet different?

Anonymity on the web allows and encourages lack of accountability.


 7:55 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Because some people have good reason to want to stay anonymous. I myself have had to take out no fewer than THREE personal protection orders over the years because of being stalked (or threatened) over the internet (and I'm not particularly anonymous, except for photos). Other people have legitimate fears of political persecution or what the heck, they just wanna say what they have to say without having to put a name on it. My 80 yr old mother occasionally wants to make a comment on some news site or another, and she doesn't particularly WANT an online identity pigeonholing her or following her around with ads for giant glazed donuts or whatever it is. Her ideal goal is to completely stay out of Google - and so far, she has, without having to be completely silent.

There is very little accountability on the internet even WITH real names. Nobody who's not sitting here with me right this moment can swear that I'm the one who is typing this. And that anonymous thing seems to work out pretty well here on WebmasterWorld too, now doesn't it?

Google can do what they like with their web properties. But if they don't find a way to deal with the creepy uncle thing, they're going to be doing it with increasingly fewer people. I sure don't have anyone pestering me for Google+ invites anymore.


 8:13 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I have websites and they contain my email address, telephone number and address.

And only last week I had to change ALL our contact pages specifically removing most of the cell, telephone and fax numbers plus business addresses precisely because of continued nuisance calls especially to our Chinese and Indian offices.

Naurally I have stated these are available on email request for valid enquirers.

No way do we want more of this rubbish generated by Google+.


 8:22 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

So Huskypup, you now have an e-commerce website without your address on it? No telephone number as well?

I would never buy from a website without a physical address. Nothing personal but an address is essential before I buy anything on the web. Shops have addresses and they have their owners names on the wall or shop front. Why are websites different?


 8:23 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I'm not ready to predict failure for Google+ - I realize that they're not aiming for me, they want "Everyman" to adopt it. I'm oftn surprised by what works for the average user and what they reject. Some of the innovations in search results didn't look all the good to my eye, but average users seem to either ignore them or even like them. It might well be the same with Google"

I'll bet Google was a bit frustrated to see that tecchies and marketers were early adopters rather than more run of the mill population. I'm not sure how they're going to reach my family, but it's not likely to be through me.


 8:27 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

What I see is quite a few people looking at this from the angle that we are all Webmasters, and should care less about providing Google more info about us. We are also people with private lives... who may prefer NOT to share our personal information with Google or at least exercise OUR choice of WHO we choose to share it with.

Google is saying: "Use your real name, or don't use our service at all". Which is perfectly fine, I chose not to use the service and will also share my emphatic reasons with my friends and family as to why.

Many of those reasons ARE DIRECTLY related to what I have learned about Google from being a Webmaster over the past many years, and seeing how Google bowls over whatever they choose, and claims no evil in the interest of their customers.

How long before Google treats people like websites and starts running us through an algo to determine good and bad people?

Where does it end?


 8:43 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

its funny because most people dont think twice about handing over info to sites like amazon. and you give them a lot more than you do google -- your real name, email address, physical address, credit card number etc. and they follow what you do to, they record everything you look at and try and tempt you by offering up similar items, just like google does with AdWords, with their interest based ads.

if you look at a poker site and google started posting up a load of poker ads on their search page everytime you visited everyone would be having a go at them. but if you look at a poker book on amazon and they started showing poker books on their main page, nobody would say a word.

i guess google's just got an image problem.


 10:14 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

It's one thing to provide our real name, address & phone number to web site's private databases, like Amazon. Even if that information ends up being in the open, it's not pleasant but it's a matter of public record (white pages stuff). But it's another making public all your comments, opinions, favorite things, latest liked articles, friends, family, current location and photos to casual surfers (or friends of friends) and associate them with your real name. That's why I don't use Facebook. That's why I don't use Google +. That's why I don't mind using Twitter. What you post on the web echoes in eternity... imagine all the stupid stuff you said when you were 16 being still a matter of public search when you're 46. Nope.


 10:40 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

i guess google's just got an image problem.

No, they've got a nasty approach to business problem.

Amazon needs my personal information to process my purchase of books. NEEDS it.

Google needs my personal information for what reason? Oh yeah, they haven't really specified why they need all that data. They could provide all their services without me providing any personally identifiable information. So why are they requiring it? Let your imagination run wild, none of the scenarios end up with me being happy.

We're right to be suspicious.


 10:47 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

There is a fine line between building a property to provide a service and building a property to harvest real personal data.

"real personal data" is extremely valuable, in both financial terms and political terms, so it should not surprise anyone that Google will want more, not less, real personal data. It keeps their stock value high and gives them a very big stick to hold, as they know more & more about every single one of us. To my eyes, it's simply the latest completely predictable behavior on their part, and rest assured, it will continue.



 10:52 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

Google needs my personal information for what reason?

The integrity of their service.

Oh yeah, they haven't really specified why they need all that data.

Yes they have

"""to build future products that leverage that information"""

They could provide all their services without me providing any personally identifiable information.

Of course they could but does that mean they should and they are wrong for not?

They don't want Google+ to end up like facebook where people create clutter accounts that they use twice for a novelty.

How good is a system that has 100,000 accounts for Brad Pitt? Stoned Guy? Booty Shaker?

I don't get where the indignation and anger comes from with this request. Google+ is a place to connect and index people.

If you want to be anonymous DONT USE THE SITE... complaining that they want you to use your real name when you have ZERO intention of using the site is childish.

It is like complaining that they made you use your Gmail account to tie it to your marketplace account. Don't use marketplace, don't use gmail, create a gmail account at a cafe and use it instead of your own. You have a choice, you aren't forced into these things.

How much do you pay for Gmail? How much does your use of Gmail cost Google? Is Google not supposed to get anything out of the deal? Not even info about you?

You want it, you want it free, you want it anon, and you want Google to get nothing in return. Seems fair.


 11:31 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

The integrity of their service.

WTF does that even mean.
Of course they could but does that mean they should and they are wrong for not?

Yes it means exactly that. It's private, sensitive, and people (not just me) strenuously object to their requiring it.

You're puzzled by the furor. Realize that people care about this stuff - you're not going to reason me out of my opinion that my personal information is NOT for Google's consumption - and tough freakin' cookies if they can't maintain the integrity of their service without it.

Frankly, I get pissed when people ask me for personal information for stupid reasons. The electronics store asks me for my location - I refuse. The village idiot that works there doesn't figure out to just enter in 555-5555 for my phone number, they look at me with slack-jawed like I'm the unibomber. And no, I'm not going to suggest they put in 555-5555, they can figure that out all by themselves.


 11:45 pm on Aug 30, 2011 (gmt 0)

I can't buy groceries without being asked for my "store card". I always decline and am instantly asked for my phone number so that my purchase can be attributed to me. I again decline, firmly say I'm paying cash, and have to listen to a pitch of some sort. I'm not rude about it but it's a rather silly exercise I am forced to repeat every time. The above doesn't solve my problem of cameras watching me in the store or RFID devices imbedded in my purchases but I adopted it it a long time ago, if you want my personal information or personal habit data ask for it and tell me EXACTLY why you're asking and HOW you secure the information. No exceptions.

No grocery store has been able to tell me the why and how and now Google is refusing to with a blanket "don't use our services". Imagine the grocery store saying that?!

We're not all cattle on an assembly line no matter how profitable it may be to treat us as such, but if nobody ever says no...

edit: with image recognition I suspect the days of store cards will soon be behind us, we'll all be monitored without needing to ask or request a store card etc.


 12:22 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

with image recognition I suspect the days of store cards will soon be behind us

Yes, very soon, relatively speaking. The loss of freedom is generally one small step at a time, as in 1930's Germany or post 911 America. Google is just one of many players in that drama. Soon, you won't be able to cross a major intersection in any sensitive part of any major city without the authorities knowing exactly who you are ~ it's a matter of years, not decades:

"...Iris scanners are little used, but a new generation of cameras that capture images from 6 feet away instead of a few inches has sparked interest from government agencies and financial firms..."

Homeland Security to test iris scanners [usatoday.com]

And when they know who you are, your full profile will be part of the analysis, and that includes your search history, what you've recently purchased, and all the rest. Bet on it.

But as Schmidt said, if you have nothing to hide, there's no worry. Now that I think of it, it seems almost all power hungry autocrats have said something similar, going back into antiquity.

ps. The above news story is one year old ~ be assured "advancements" have been made in the 12 months since it was written. I would not be surprised if it's now 15 feet away, and in 2 more years, 40 ft, and in 4 yrs, 120 feet...


[edited by: Reno at 12:31 am (utc) on Aug 31, 2011]


 12:30 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

i guess google's just got an image problem.

Yep they do.

Google has political bias and they are in bed with intelligence agencies. Google never deletes your IP/search/email/etc history and now wants to associate it with your real identity so that you can be reputation 'ranked' as per Eric Schmidt. That's creepy.

Whereas, Amazon sells you items you pay for.


 12:36 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Let's not forget for one minute that this Google+ data is exploitable by third parties for what ever reason.


Matthijs R. Koot blogged about pulling 35 million Google Profiles into one database without his connection being blocked. Koot mentioned how Google profiles warned that your email address is publicly discoverable. He added:

With no apparent download restriction in place for connections to https://profiles.google.com and Google users disclosing their profession, employer, education, location, links to their Twitter account, Picasa photoalbums, LinkedIn accounts et cetera this seems like a large-scale spear phishing attack waiting to happen?(**) But hey, the users HAVE been warned."


Googles robot.txt even allows third party spidering of profiles.

Allow: /profiles
Allow: /s2/profiles
Allow: /s2/photos
Allow: /s2/static


 12:49 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

you're not going to reason me out of my opinion that my personal information is NOT for Google's consumption

I am not trying to, I am trying to figure out why Google requiring a real name has you so upset when you have no intention of using the website to begin with.


 1:12 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Why don't we meet up at the next pubcon, I'll ask you in person what kinks your wife likes in bed. I don't know why you'd be upset or offended at a question like that, it's not like I have any intention of having sex with her. I just want to know - hang on, I've got to go back a page - for the integrity of my services.

Your scale of where you find people prying is different than others - but don't think it doesn't exist.


 1:18 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

The thread's also now wide open for a monty python reference.


 2:13 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

The concerns of being stalked and threatened are genuine.

Shops have addresses and they have their owners names on the wall or shop front. Why are websites different?

But you know the buyer at your shop. A personal face to face interaction with a buyer can tell you lot about his intentions.If someone threatens or abuses you, you can give the buyer's identity to the Police.

How do you think that you can handle anonymous buyers on the web when he has the intentions of abusing you.Don't try to compare the offline and the online shopping world for everything.I know that google does promote that argument, but remember they always do it for their own reasons.


 2:28 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

It is strange when people assume the owner names and the addresses they see on websites are real.

The web by its very nature is anonymous and never compare the online and the offline world. An online shop can never be the same as an offline shop and vice versa. The business model and processes are different and don't get fooled when googlers give examples of how their products and "trust rules" are making the online e-commerce experience the same as the offline exp.


 3:02 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

I don't get where the indignation and anger comes from with this request. Google+ is a place to connect and index people.

Actually the only person who appears to be getting seriously het up about this is you. The rest of us are just having a discussion and shaking our heads.


 3:16 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

The difference between bricks & mortar and internet is one of scale and opportunity. Online reach stretches statewide, countrywide, worldwide, into temporal infinity.

One photo of a child on Facebook? The threat is not just a local crazy who happens to pass by while she's playing outside, but every crazy online who passes by, from now till next century, with a vast identity trail just waiting to be tracked. Much bigger scale.


 3:33 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

Another reason why "anon" is a good idea...
Open...and Shut The technology world loves to navel-gaze and think it's constantly breaking new ground, but as in the case of the recent debate over real names and anonymity on Google+, technology often plods over well-trodden ground.

For example, if you dropped one of the American republic's "founding fathers" into the midst of the Google+ brouhaha, he'd feel right at home. Unfortunately.

Let me explain. In case you missed it, Google has been under fire for its policy requiring that people use their real names on its Google+ social networking service.

There are plenty of good reasons to use pseudonyms, as others have pointed out, but because Google intends Google+ to be an identity service, all of these reasons take a back seat to establishing a credible online identity.



 8:36 am on Aug 31, 2011 (gmt 0)

@wheel amen - I bet every one in google has given up on getting a pay rise thats suposedly linkd to googles social performance

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