Google+ Wants to Sell You Stuff

Henry Luce: Now, I want them all to meet my people who will write their true stories, Naturally these stories will appear in Life magazine under their own bylines: For example, “by Betty Grissom”, or “by Virgil I. Grisson”, or…
Gus Grissom: Gus!
Henry Luce: What was that?
Gus Grissom: Gus. Nobody calls me by… that other name.
Henry Luce: Gus? An astronaut named “Gus”? What’s your middle name?
Gus Grissom: Ivan.
Henry Luce: Ivan… ahem… well. Maybe, Gus isn’t so bad, might be something there… All right, all right. You can be Gus.

–“The Right Stuff”

Although maybe not on Google+. NPR reporter Andy Carvin sums up Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s stance thusly: “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.”

So who benefits from this “identity service”? Schmidt would say that you do, because if people have to post under their real names, then they won’t say nasty things about you on the Internet. But as venture capitalist Fred Wilson points out, there are some hefty benefits for Google as well–namely, that they are now better able to target ads.

To any of you who have Gmail, this isn’t new. But what are those “future products that leverage that information” that Schmidt mentioned? We don’t know yet. But apparently they require Google to know exactly who you are. And based on this Search Engine Watch post, that means you have to:

  • Use your full first and last name in a single language.
  • Put nicknames or pseudonyms in the Other Names field.
  • Avoid unusual characters in your name.
  • Your profile and name must represent one individual.
  • Don’t use the name of another individual.

Not only is there no room here for pseudonyms, there’s no room for common nicknames. Well, my Google account doesn’t use my full first name, so I guess I’m in violation of their policy. But how would they determine that without, say, Social Security records? (Aside from the fact that I’m stating it openly, that is.) I use “Kathy Lisiewicz” because that’s what people call me. It doesn’t make sense to use my full name on Google+ when I’m not using it anywhere else online.

So, how private do those Circles feel now?


Posted on August 30, 2011, in Social Media and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Sounds like the days of having a cool handle, like wyldfyre or sktrgrrrl, are over. Too bad; I guess I missed my chance at having a more interesting virtual identity than the real me.

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