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Should social networks insist on using your real name?

August 5, 2011

David Beharall
David
After 11 years in professional football David retired in 2006 to set up CandidSky. He currently holds the position of Managing Director.

Real Username and ID's

Google+ causes a stir

Social network Google+ has caused a stir this week by enforcing a policy to use a real name when setting up an account. If an account is called “Dman533” for example, Google will simply delete it.

Many users have argued they want to keep their real name private, whilst others have established an identity and a personality with using a fake name.

Google have hit back stating Google+ users should be able to search for a person easily and that means demanding real names. The guidelines are very similar to other social network sites like Facebook.

What Facebook say about this

Randi Zuckerberg, Facebook’s marketing director and sister of CEO Mark Zuckerberg, wants to ban online anonymity and force people to use their real names on the internet.

Her comments at a recent presentation on cyberbullying and social media were interesting: “I think anonymity on the internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down.”

She has a point. Yet others argue using a fake name has its benefits. It encourages experimentation as there is no risk of failure.

My opinion

I’m completely for authentication online, particularly for social networks. I wouldn’t introduce myself as “Dman533” if I met someone in person so why do it online?

I do understand there may be a need for anonymity or escapism online which is why online gaming has taken off, especially with games like World of Warcraft. So in that sense anonymity is fine.

However I can’t help but feel against anonymity online, especially when they are mixed with genuine names like you see on YouTube. It allows people to say whatever they want to individuals and not be accountable for it.

I understand Google+ and Facebook’s point of view. They are moving towards making the internet more integrated with social media by allowing users to recommend websites, products and services etc. Using real names is a much stronger way of endorsing something.

It will never work mixing genuine ID’s with anonymous ones. Sites like Google+ and Facebook have to make it one or the other. Real names or anonymous? We say keep it real.

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