Google+: Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

Google+: Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

Summary: Google's former CEO says that if you don't like their policy about having to use your real name to represent you on Google+, then maybe their social network is not for you. Thank you Eric Schmidt!

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Recently at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, NPR's Andy Carvin was able to squeeze in a question with Google former CEO Eric Schmidt about how Google could possibly justify its names policy, a policy requiring that one must use their real name to represent them on Google+, when it could put people at risk. He said "...people who are concerned about their safety, 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+."

Thank you Eric Schmidt. I love this.

Why do I love this? I'm a 98% right-brain social creative marketing guy but when it comes to personal responsibility there's no room for squishy emotional grey area when people are online. If there was ever a  moment in my line of work when I appreciated the staunch pragmatist, it's right now. Eric nailed it.

Now I know this means we need to now be more rational about why we are doing what we do online but think about this for a second.

The problem with social networks is that while it is definitely wrong for them to sell your data/content without telling you first or providing a way for you to opt-out of said data sale, the internet to me often feels like the "land of not taking responsibility for one's own actions." In all honesty, I'm more often than not appalled at the hypocrisy (and irony) of most users of social networks. The freedom of being online and getting access to something for free also appears to perpetuate an irrational sense of entitlement out of users that I find amusing for the most part, but it's generally annoying.

1. Social networks owe you nothing. If a company creates a free website for you to sign up and be a part of, they reserve the right to create and implement whatever policies they want. If it's all documented and made available to the public, the users have no real rights other than being informed about what is being done with their data.

2. Life is about choices folks. If you choose to create an account on a social network on your own accord, and then also decide to publish what you'd consider personal photos, videos, content, etc. - That was your choice to do so. No one held you at gunpoint (er...hopefully not), forcing you to create a Facebook account followed by populating it with your own content. You chose to. There's a reason why some people never get on social networks or if they do, they hardly post anything. They're making the choice of what to share because they know it's their own responsibility.

3. You are being logged. Make no mistake: the moment you create an account anywhere, not just on social networks, you are signing up to be part of a human data collection experiment. Data collected will be used to figure out how to make money. End of story. If you can embrace that fact and be cool with it, then welcome to the current state of the internet party.

4. It is called a SOCIAL network for a reason. I always find it funny when people create an account on a social network and then feverishly lock everything down as tight as possible and hardly share anything. It's like going to a business mixer or a family function or a get together with your friends where, immediately after you arrive, you go find a dark corner to hang out in by yourself until everyone leaves. In short, why bother?

Newflash: You are being digitally cloned

We are witnessing the early stages of the ultimate convergence of sociology, human behavior, and billions of data packets sailing over millions of miles of network cables intended to construct a virtual version of you.

I've observed that the same people who complain about or are fearful of this are the same ones that are also contributing to it the most by providing the most content, whether they realize it, like it, hate it, or not. Every time you update your status about what you had for dinner, your struggles as a parent, how much you like your job, when you last went to Disneyland and how fun it was, etc. – algorithms collect, organize and attempt to construct a ‘virtual you’ over a time period that can be stored (and manipulated) in a multitude of ways, deconstructed by ad agencies and reconstructed as needed to serve you content that they hope will be as close to your heart strings as possible so that you buy stuff. Because you have provided the data about yourself from your own brain and fingertips, associated content statistically has a higher and higher percent chance of resonating with you as time goes on after they measure your continued responses. As we continue to voluntarily provide more insight into our likes, dislikes and fears, the more data is collected about us and our individual behavior patterns.

In the bigger picture, websites are constructing a virtual version or copy of humanity in the form of patterns that fill up a multitude of databases. Unless you are in high-tech, this happens without the majority of us even realizing it because we are distracted by our own emotions, the day to day stresses of life and the onslaught of news feeds that now pour in from every direction.

If I sound crazy, a simpler way to describe it is this (I’m sure most of you have seen this before): When you see a new animated movie come out like Avatar, their goal is to as accurately as possible, recreate realistic human physical motion and movement so that the characters look as authentic as possible and are believable. In a production studio, they do so by making the actors wear a body suit covered in sensors that connect up to a computer program. They then have the actor do certain movements for the movie to support various scenes, etc. While they are moving around, the sensors are recording these movements and it creates a 3D image of those movements on the screen, completing a virtual version of that person and their physical/movement characteristics.

The social monopolization of the web is doing the exact same thing except that it’s with human behavior instead and on a global scale. By creating an account on a social network or site so that we can willingly populate it with content from our daily lives and true selves, we have officially authorized the creation of digital clones of us as a species so companies can utilize it for innovation and business.

Embrace it or bust

If none of the above sounds ok with you, don't sign up for Facebook, Google+, or any other social network or community. Plain and simple. However, if you like the internet, you like Facebook, Twitter, RSS feeds, and being able to consume news and opinions from around the world, then sign up, be happy about it and make it a positive experience for yourself and those that are connected to you.

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Topics: Collaboration, Google, Networking, Social Enterprise

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122 comments
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  • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

    There should be anonymous social networks.
    tatiGmail
    • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

      @tatiGmail - I don't disagree. My point is that if remaining anonymous is what people want, then they should go sign up for a social network that supports that ideal.
      Rich Harris
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Rich Harris Agreed, although it isn't really a "social" network, in the way of Facebook or G+, where you actively look for people you know.

        As to you comment in the article about "hiding in a corner", I think of it more as you socialise, but you talk to small groups of friends about different things, you don't jump on the table and preach to the whole room.

        Friends from one part of my life probably have no interest in what I am saying to another group - for example, my computer friends probably don't care about my motorbike riding and vice versa, I'll share my prostate problems with my family, but it isn't something all my friends should know (and that was just an example, I don't have prostate problems! ;-) ).
        wright_is
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Rich Harris wow... you guys really are willing to just give up some of your rights. I don't use Facebook due to how they handle their security changes. Although I did have to set up a temp account for accessing Powerpoint presentations for a class. I didn't even put my whole name, and with just the first name, last initial, including any other information Facebook took from my system I set my account up on, Facebook was able to provide me a list of "potential friends" all of which I knew excluding one. None of these "potential friends" resided in the state I reside in.

        There are a lot of websites out there that won't fully function without google-analytics allowed or doubleclick.net (using NoScript in Firefox). This means that even if I don't use ANY Google products, in order for me to view a website that should have NOTHING to do with Google and me, I'm forced to allow their content to view the website. In essence, if you want to browse the internet you are forced to give Google some of your information. Google already knows who you are. I only see the forced names as a way for Google to increase revenue and decrease some posted crud.

        You guys who are for this are giving a publicly owned corporation a lot of extra information and power... when the sky falls, I guess you can say you have been warned. :)
        Nate413
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Rich Harris <br><br>I'd like to commend you for writing what is perhaps the best piece on ZDNet I can recall. While I am against the real names policies You do make some valid points about user responsibility and choice. It is not Google or Facebook's responsibility to protect users privacy when it is the users who volunteer information and it is the users choice to reject using the services if they do not like the terms and policies of the service provider. Your's is a sensible and pragmatic position.<br><br>I am, however, as stated, against the real names policy and am also a pragmatist. First of all Google's policy is not actually a real names policy. It is a real sounding names policy. There are no controls that require actual verification of real names and as such has no socially redeeming value and only value for Google's data collection business model. I am not against Google's data collection business model either; only their real names policy. I don't care if ZDNet, for instance, knows that I comment on certain topics and can deduce that I'm a PC user using Linux and tailors ads suggesting products based on that fact as long as I don't have to give up my real name for them to do so.<br><br>In todays trolling culture, some of my comments could cause me to become the target of on-line harassment if my comments (which I stand behind 100%) were to offend some supporter of Ed Bott (who I have debunked and poorly reviewed several of his articles recently) or Apple or Microsoft. While my use of the services requires me to divulge my real world identity, anonymous trolls can victimize me on-line at all of my accounts that were established with my real identity from accounts established under real sounding pseudonyms or extend that harassment into the real world and do so completely anonymously. I would either have to suffer through it or burn my accounts and with it my real identity and re-establish a new unknown identity.<br><br>Real names policies do not protect the public from malicious anonymous attacks it makes them easy targets for victimization all in the name of profits for the providers of free services. No we don't have to use them but if the policies make profits for one company others will adopt them. Then the Internet will become more "use at your own risk" than it already is and a greater risk to use. For their own safetyand to satisfy the real sounding names policy everyone will have to be John or Jane Smith. Can you imagine finding out which Jane Smith out of 300 million on Facebook is Mary Jenkins from your old high school?
        techadmin.cc@...
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Nate413 - I never said I supported giving anyone more power. All I said was basically, if you don't like the rules of a free website, don't sign up.
        Rich Harris
      • They always want to change the rules.....

        @Nate413
        If you don't like the rules, don't play the game! This is not a rights issue...As stated previously, no one is forcing you to use these sites. Their sites, their rules. Simple! As long as it is legal, they can make any rules they like. Don't like it? Go some place else or start your own site.

        Time for you to grow up!
        linux for me
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Rich Harris
        My apologies. I read these stories as I have a few minutes here and there at work, and the initial slant I took you to have from the article is that you was in favor of how Google is handling Google+. After rereading and realizing the error of my ways, I had meant to take a minute to edit my post but got sidetracked and never took the opportunity.

        Well written article, you obviously got my attention. :)

        It just saddens me to see how a once small business centered around quality and customer service is showing how they are beginning to practice the same corporate ethics as every other corporation out there centered only around incoming revenue. Working for the largest newspaper corporation I get to experience it quite often.

        @linux for me

        You are giving away your rights to privacy when you sign up for G+ service and post content. They can do essentially whatever they want with that content (all in the name of "privacy"). You are right, as an individual I don't have to sign up for it. Although, just because something is legal doesn't make it right. As for not liking it, I have my own family website for friends and family to view baby pictures. There's a lot more I intend to add when time allows. However, that's the beauty of social sites such as G+. Less time is spent for an individual in creating the structure for the content to be put in and more time spent on creating the content. To me, that's not worth giving up privacy for.

        As for growing up... I'm 29, just bought and moved into a new house a few months ago so my wife and I have ample living space to provide for our 9 month old son, where I just got my old home up for sale after purchasing and living there since I was 21. I work a full-time job and I'm working on a degree in Small Business Management and Entrepreneurship with the intention of one day starting my own business. No, I didn't get help from family either. If that isn't "growing up," then I guess I don't want to. :)
        Nate413
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Rich Harris and "Linux for me"<br><br>Sorry but IMHO you should say "if you don't like the rules, go try changing them!" instead of passively get into the game of "accept or get out" created by these companies.<br><br>Customer satisfaction IS a part of business and nobody can say "you are a slave to my rules or otherwise get out of my site" today. With tones of feedbacks and sacrifices (time and money), people like me can make the web a better place to sign in, but people like you will give rise to different kinds of dictators, by passively accepting their invalid and dangerous policies.<br><br>Don't you vote for adjusting the old rules, in real life? So reform must happen at the digital level too. Please don't make yourselves slaves of these companies, and please kindly think before you talk. <img border="0" src="http://www.cnet.com/i/mb/emoticons/happy.gif" alt="happy">
        victorxstc@...
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Rich Harris and "Linux for me"

        Sorry but IMHO you should say "if you don't like the rules, go try changing them!" instead of passively get into the game of "accept or get out" these companies.

        Customer satisfaction IS a part of business and nobody can say "you are a slave to my rules or otherwise get out of my site" today. With tones of feedbacks and sacrifices (time and money), people like me can make the web a better place to sign in, but people like you will give rise to different kinds of dictators, by passively accepting their invalid and dangerous policies.

        Don't you vote for adjusting the old rules, in real life? So reform must happen at the digital level too. Please don't make yourselves slaves of these companies. :)
        victorxstc@...
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @Nate413

        Thank you for proving my point. You just confirmed that you join the game in progress and want to immediately change the rules!

        It has nothing to do about what YOUR conception of whether those rules are right or wrong. You don't like them? Don't play. Make your own site with your own rules, and I will guarantee you that you will be drowning with requests to modify those rules.

        Their site...their rules...Go play somewhere else if you don't like them. You probably want to change the traffic rules to drive on the left side of the road too! (This isn't Great Britain or Japan).

        So what if you are 29...Doesn't mean you have grown up at all. Time to face reality kiddo.
        linux for me
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @linux for me<br><br>Either you cant read or you cant see "kiddo". I agreed with you in my previous statement that I don't have to sign up for it. That means that I did NOT join the game because I DON'T agree to the rules. I never said anything about changing them, but they would have to be changed in order for me to "play."<br><br>My original statement was attacking the underlying principle to giving up a right of privacy. As an example, suppose Google+ was a huge building like a Sam's Club or Cosco where the whole city you reside in could go to hang out and chat with each other. However, in order for you to be a member, instead of them charging you $30, you had to accept an agreement that every second in that building, every word, and every action you make, they record and sell to other companies for "free." At the same time, every other company you go to visit Google records you visiting as well (without your permission, because the company you visited gave Google permission since that company is using some part of Google's services). Knowing all of that, would you still be willing to become a member of that company if you didn't know anyone, and if not, would you sign that agreement if all of your friends and family did?<br><br>Eric's philanthropic approach or justification for removing anonymity could be that he is cleaning up the internet. Currently with anonymity on the internet, most probably don't see my previous example as a big deal, but what happens ten or fifteen years down the road when every action or word you make is sold to other companies and these other companies start using them? What happens when privacy becomes even less so because today you have begun to be desensitized to the idea of giving up your internet privacy? Two years ago, people believed it to be a travesty when gas rose to $2.00 a gallon, and did nothing more than grumble and complain a little when it rose to almost $4 a gallon this year. <br><br>The biggest problem I have with this is that this "data" never goes away. Any actions you said or made online can haunt you for the rest of your life and could even become SEO friendly. In my original post where I posted about Facebook, the only conclusion I could come to on how they obtained information about me to give me friends I know is from my Yahoo account that I gave when I signed up. Some of those folks I had at one time or another sent emails to or received emails from since Ive used this email account for over 10 years.<br><br>About the rest of your post, I do have specific rules on my website. When people log in to see family photos on my site, I have in a big easy to see font right below the gallery tab stating that photos are for personal use where none of the photos are to be placed on any social sites or used for commercial purposes unless given permission by the people in the photos. If I find it happening, Ill reset passwords and restrict access. Not much else I can do since it is dependent on the honesty system. Ive got an option on certain galleries for them to save at 400 res to make 5x8's of if they desire.<br><br>If changing the rules on the road were reasonable, cost efficient and safer then I would be for changing them. I am flexible. Instances in this area I find an issue with are when law enforcement officials and tools (cameras) are used as a means of additional revenue and not to increase and enforce safety on the road.<br><br>I'm all for functional conflict, but attack the message not the messenger. I realize were all human and accidents do happen.<br><br>Nathan

        Edited to add quotes/apostrophes since they were lost in pasting.
        Nate413
    • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

      @tatiGmail 4chan
      txhoudini
    • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

      @tatiGmail
      MingCao
    • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

      @tatiGmail How are you going to find your friends, if it is anonymous? :-S

      Twitter is a little different, it is all public and people who find you interesting follow you (and vice versa). But with Facespace+ you are going there to socialise with friends. How are you going to find your friends, if they are anonymous?

      A BBS or forum, where everybody is fairly anonymous is fine, but it isn't a network of your social contacts. You need to make the choice, are you going to join an anonymous forum or are you going to join a social network and look for your friends?

      I do like G+'s circles. I don't want to share everything with everybody. Some things are only of interest to my tech friends, others are only for my family.

      On the other hand, when I feel like shouting to the world, I do it 140 chars at a time on Twitter.
      wright_is
      • if they ARE friends you will find them

        @wright_is when I want to add someone I ask for their username - its not that hard! I personally dont care because my name is too common for anyone to just find anyway - but I do think that people should be able to keep their identity secret if that is what they want , as long as the network has their real identity in the settings.

        However I also understand that google provide this free (well they dont actually because I am supporting it by reading the targeted advertising) and that they can make the rules and people like me can join or not. Personally I think the world only needs one social network as anything else dilutes it and reduces the friending possibility.

        I have always suspected that G+ is aiming itself at the business market rather than the kids - well thats fine but even though I am probably in their target market I prefer to hang out where its less serious and more fun.

        Must look to see how I can unsuscribe from G+ - it could have been an amazing playground but its ending up like boring linkedin
        cymru999
    • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

      @tatiGmail I have to agree. I think Google just fell down the well with their latest social networking attempt...again.

      I'm never going to use my real name. Even worse most of my friends don't even know it. So why would I? ????!!!
      blueskip
    • Message has been deleted.

      ZazieLavender
      • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

        @ZazieLavender - Paid to praise Eric Schmidt? Would be nice.
        Rich Harris
    • RE: Google : Eric Schmidt wants your real name or nothing at all

      LMAO AT YOU!
      McCinabon