I just deleted my Google+ profile. They asked me why, and I told them:
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Here’s what I said:
By disallowing pseudonyms, you’ve effectively cut me off from far too many of my friends. I have the luxury of using my real name for my communications, but that’s exactly what it is: a luxury.
I’m a white, middle class male, with socially-acceptable addictions and middle-of-the-road kinks. I live in a tolerant, cosmopolitan city and I wear collared shirts and khakis. And a few of my friends have none of that.
In some cases, their online identities are, in any respect that matters, their real names; the text on the driver’s license is just a minor formality. In some cases, associating their online identities with their real names would only get them hurt or ostracised. In some cases, admittedly rare ones, associating their online identities with their real names, and hence their real addresses, means that there’s a real possibility that somebody else will figure out who, what or where they are, come to their home and beat them up or kill them.
It’s a slim possibility, sure. But it’s real, and these are my friends; I can’t be a part of a system like Google+ that doesn’t let people manage that risk as they see fit.
Don’t be evil, guys, and don’t pretend it’s OK to impose these conditions on people struggling to manage risks you can barely imagine living with, every single day and night forever. You’re Google, and you’re supposed to be better than that.
A little dramatic? Maybe, maybe. But just staggeringly tone-deaf on Google’s part. It wasn’t long ago that Google did the right thing, and fast, when it came to comparable problems with Buzz. I really don’t understand why they’re digging their heels in with Google+, but I’m perfectly happy not to care, and walking away.
UPDATE: Google employee Bradley Horowitz notes:
MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.
When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won’t be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you’ll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on.
According to this page “If your profile is suspended, you will not be able to make full use of Google services that require an active profile such as Google+, Buzz, Reader and Picasa.”
Except every last one of those services, that supposedly “require an active profile” antedate Google+ by years, prima facie evidence that they don’t “require” anything of the sort. As far as I can tell this is nothing more than a disingenuous attempt at covering for an arbitrary, punitive implementation of a misguided policy.
Dear Google: This is really weak, guys. I know you’re better than this.