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Anonymity isn't allowed on Google+

20 Jul 2011

Early this morning I browsed across an update from Marshall Kirkpatrick sharing that Google doesn't allow anonymous identities on it's social service Google+.

Marshall Kirkpatrick - So Google Plus is a place of public discourse, with gradations of privacy, but with no anonymity or pseudonyms (allowed)? How Google-like; I'm not so sure that's a good thing.

I can understand why social web utilities want to attach an account to an identity to promote responsible usage and reputation, but I feel like these goals can be achieved while still allowing pseudonyms for progressive discussions. Two comments struck me as influential and characterizing why I value anonymity with digital identity. I've included them below.

Oscar Fröberg - One thing that would be great would be if you could choose a pseudonym for each circle. That way you could for example interact with "internet-people" anonymously but still be available in search to interact with friends under your real name. There are subjects I'd like to be able to discuss which I don't necessarily want perpetuated on the internet under my real name, even if I want it to be a public discussion!

Joshua Jeffryes - Sacrificing anonymity sacrifices honesty, risk taking, and entertainment.

You won't get whistle blowers, people fighting oppressive regimes, or FakeSteveJobs or DeathstarPR here. I think g+ is lessened by that.

Some of my favorite social networks condone pseudonyms and various levels of anonymity. Both Twitter and Disqus enable accounts to exist without forcing them to be exposed as belonging to a specific individual.