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Tag: Suspension

Would Mark Twain be Allowed on Google Plus?

Posted by KL Tech Muse at 7:08 PM on July 25, 2011

Google PlusFirst off I am a Google Plus user and love the service. However lately Google Plus has been embroiled in controversy. There has been quite a few accounts suspended for violating Google’s TOS over the use of pseudonyms.  Have you heard of Woody Allen, Bono or Jackie Chan, of course you have. How about Allen Konigsberg, Paul Hewson or Chan Kong-Sang, I’m sure you have figured out by now that these are all the same people. However, if they decided to be on Google Plus and use the names the world knows them by.  They would be in violation of Google TOS and could be ban. I know what you are saying, that would never happen these people are known by these names around the world. You maybe right however it did happen to William Shatner (although his account was quickly reestablished after a stink was made) and it is happening to many less famous people who happen to use pseudonyms on the Internet. They are well-known by these names in the various circles that they socialize in on the Internet. In other words they are not anonymous, people within their circles know who they are and how to reach them

Google says it isn’t about real names, it is about having common names, removing people who spell their names in weird ways like using symbols and obvious fake names. Which to me seems that they are contradicting themselves right in that one sentence. You can’t say it isn’t about real names in on part and then say but we are going to delete you if you use a fake name as a user I find that very confusing. So in other words I can use a fake name as longs it sounds real to the person making the decision. Non-western names have clearly have special issues all their own. Then once they make the decision they can suspend your access to Google plus. In extreme cases this can not only affect your access to Google Plus, but to all Google products including mail, and documents. Which to many people is worse than having their phone or snail mail cut off. No details are provided other than you violated Googles TOS, which leaves you to guess what happened and figuring out how to appeal. There has to be a better way of handling this, perhaps an email to the person in question, before their account is suspended indicating there is a problem and they need to contact Google, if there is no response within 48 hours then block the account until they do contact Google.

I do think that there are pseudonyms that shouldn’t be permitted such as names that denigrate others race, religion or sexual orientation. I also agree that completely anonymous posting should not be allowed, that you must provide an email address where Google can contact you. I have to admit even this I am going back and forth on. The use of pseudonyms has been a long and honorable tradition throughout history. Some people use pseudonyms because they want to be cool or to separate their on-line world from their off-line existence. In many countries around the world having an open conversation under your real name is extremely dangerous and people use pseudonyms to protect their very life and freedom. What if you want to talk about a controversial issue that personally effects you such as homosexuality or abortion and you rather not use your real name, a pseudonym makes perfect sense. I don’t have all the answers to this problem, but clearly Google needs to come up with something better than what they are doing now, before they open up the service to the public.