Over the weekend, NPR's Andy Carvin had the chance to ask Google chairman Eric Schmidt about the highly controversial Google+ real name policy. And his answer basically boiled down to "Don't like it? Don't use it."
Oddly enough, this tidbit comes courtesy of Carvin's own Google+ profile. He writes, in part:
He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.
Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government's own policies, which implies (to me, at least) that Schmidt thinks there's no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms.
It sounds like Schmidt's vision for the Internet includes verifiable identities for everyone. But the term "identity service" and phrases like "leverage that information" have vaguely unsettling connotations (in fairness, Carvin says that he merely paraphrased Schmidt, and those may not be direct quotes).
Some, like ZDNet's Violet Blue, have taken the Google+ real name policy and the often draconian penalties it entails as cause enough to consider dropping the fledgling social network entirely. But will Google stick to its guns, or will enough user unrest prompt some real name policy reform?