So Google, about that Pseudonym thing you Promised
That was the original title I started writing until I noticed Google’s announcement it is finally allowing pseudonyms. So I was going to change the title but then I read the fine print of their Google Plus policy and realized it might still be appropriate.
I say “might” because as I write this I’m still a little confused. First of all let’s get some perspective. Pseudonyms is a feature that was promised by Google last fall. Which makes one wonder why it took so long to implement such a seemingly simple task.
I can imagine the Google brass sitting around board room meetings dreaming up ways to enforce it’s no-privacy movement and dupe us into believing that it was actually going to give us a real privacy option. Or maybe they just thought we would forget the whole thing and go away.
They played dumb for a few months to get users to use their legal names, and then when Google needed pseudonyms, they are suddenly open to the idea. Source
Either way they obviously weren’t in any hurry. Then out of the blue Google Plus VP Bradley Horowitz announced:
Nicknames and Names: Over the next week, we’ll be adding support for alternate names – be they nicknames, birth names, or names in another script – alongside your common name. This name will show up on your Google+ profile and in the hovercards which appear over your name. In the next few weeks, we’ll be displaying it more broadly as part of your name in other areas of Google+ as well. So if you’re Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jane Doe (Smith), or ???? ????? (Saurabh Sharma), you can now communicate your identity the way you want to. Source
Notice the keywords “alongside your common name“. Wow! Most people missed that part but this legal beagle is trained to read the fine print, and those few words literally lept off the page.
There was Google’s out from providing us with a real privacy option.
Well all I could say to that is this a joke Google? Now you expect us to give both our real name and a nick/pseudonym (or whatever else you want to call it)? Talk about from the fire to the frying pan, and it just keeps getting worse.
So pray tell Google how is that supposed to benefit users who want to protect their privacy? I mean, isn’t that the most important reason for wanting to use a pseudonym in the first place? (As Blog Bloke shakes his head in total disbelief).
After hearing the news I fired up my Google Plus profile and sure enough the same suspension notice was still there.
So I went into edit mode and changed my name to John Smith .. and it worked. Then I changed it to The Bloke, and it worked again. So I changed it a third time back to Blog Bloke (which was my original choice) and that is how it remains. And round and round the mulberry bush we go.
I requested an appeal just to make sure it wasn’t a hiccup (or I was dreaming) and after months of abuse here is the cutesy email message that I finally got:
Hello, Thanks for sending us your appeal. You’re right: your name does comply with the Google+ Names Policy. Your name has been updated on your Google+ profile. If you submitted the appeal during sign up, your profile has now been restored. Log in to Google+. Sorry for the inconvenience, The Google+ team.
“You’re right: your name does comply with the Google+ Names Policy“. Why didn’t they just say that in the first place and save us all the bother?
“Sorry for the inconvenience“. Thanks for the apology but I prefer it to come from a real person and not a stoopid bot. Helps with the sincerity thing.
I wrote my first Google+ post in months and some of my initial reactions were:
- I have mixed feelings about all this. Albeit I’m happy to prevail, I lost 6 months of posting, SEO benefit and not even an apology for damaged reputation.
- Why did G+ take half a year to do what it should have done from the beginning, and all my old posts are gone. Lots of questions…
- I guess all the screaming finally paid off. But justice can be slow. Truthfully I’m still offended by Google for all of the BS. Total waste of time and unnecessary.
- Now that I’m back on Googleplus after 6 months of insult I have no interest in using it. In fact Google owes all of us an apology.
- Google has turned me off because of it’s arrogance and indifference. If it thinks it is too big to fail, it should think again.
So what am I to make of all this? To tell you the truth I half expect them to change their mind and pull the plug again. Their policy changes with the weather and your guess is as good as mine.
Then I came across this article from ZDNet. So now we’re mincing words. Apparently it’s all in the name, or should I say “nickname“.
According to Dictionary dot com a “nickname” is:
A name added to or substituted for the proper name of a person, place, etc., as in affection, ridicule, or familiarity: He has always loathed his nickname of “Whizzer.” Source
Clearly Google is latching on to the “added to” part of the definition instead of “pseudonym” like it promised…
(To be approved, the ‘nym must be considered “established” and get approved in Google’s hazy appeal process - unless you are famous or known, like Horowitz’s example, Madonna).
Since I was already pre-approved before I submitted an appeal I can only suppose Google considers me famous. I guess I should be flattered. But what about the rest of us?
The implementation makes it clear that this is “nickname” support and not true pseudonym support. You can add a nickname, but pseudonym use is not freely available.
Or to put it more plainly … using a pseudonym is only retroactive for us “established” pseudonym users. The rest of you are screwed.
Ok enough already!
I’ve had enough of this dance. Google must think we’re all stupid so let’s get back to reality for a moment. Last fall Google VP Vic Gundotra promised to support pseudonyms no strings attached “in a matter of days“, and it’s just one more promise that Google has reneged on.
So much for that “trust” thing in social media that we keep hearing about.
To quote someone else that I read — what a joke!
As far as I’m concerned it’s too late now. Google has lost all credibility and I don’t think I can trust anything it says again.
The damage is done.
When Google+ first opened its door it was a feeding frenzy and I was inundated with people asking to join my circle. A half a year later (which is a lifetime online) things have calmed down and a lot of the people who had me in their circles aren’t active any more or disappeared. Marketers are now in control, just like they dominate Facebook and Twitter.
As far as I’m concerned making people like myself wait all this time was premeditated on the part of Google. Now I’m just another noob trying break into an old boyz network. Not to mention the damage done to my reputation.
Thanks Google. No, everything is NOT alright. I’m still waiting for a REAL apology.