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Ask Slashdot: Do We Need Pseudonymous Social Networking? 213

An anonymous reader writes "While the idea of anonymous social networking sounds like an oxymoron, the use of pseudonyms to mask a user's online identity has a long history that stretches back to the earliest days of the Internet and local bulletin board systems (BBS). Such imperfect anonymity, which can often be unmasked with a few well-defined Google searches, has led to abuses like the invention of 'spambots' and the persistence of forum trolls. But, as the BBC reports, pseudonyms have their place in online communities, especially where identities are a risky commodity, under oppressive state regimes and governments where corporate interests increasingly dominate the interests of individuals: 'Some users choose to hide their identity to avoid being found by people they would not like to be contacted by. Others live in countries where identification could have serious implications for those who have expressed political views or associated themselves with others who have.' Should Google+ and maybe even the notorious Facebook evolve into two-tiered sites where those who choose to remain anonymous are 'identified' as such and denied access to certain site features, while being free to post, blog, or tweet their views, without summarily getting their accounts suspended or revoked?"
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Ask Slashdot: Do We Need Pseudonymous Social Networking?

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  • Yes. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Yes we do.

    • and furthermore... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:22PM (#36925734) Homepage Journal

      Why do I need your real name, or the thing you claim is your real name? What, exactly, am I to do with it that is legitimate use? Am I to look up your address so as to stalk you? Seriously, why do I, as a social website member, need anything other than some unique identifier so conversations can be directed? Frankly, I don't need your real name, nor do I want it. The question here really is: Who does want your real name -- and why?

      Facebook and Google want your real name. They want it because they're going to sell it; it, and the habits they associate with it, by tracking every move you make that they are able to. They're going to sell it to corporations; give it to the government; etc. If you're ok with that, then fine, give 'em your real name. What I wonder, really, is why you'd be ok with that. Too young to remember McCarthyism, perhaps? Don't understand the reasons why privacy was given such primacy in the constitution? Just plain... dim? It's an interesting question, certainly.

      • There is a problem that the mainstream cloud storage options like DropBox, SkyDrive, MobileMe, Google Music, etc. all store your data unencrypted, meaning eventually the MafiAA will sue your asses based upon the media that you've archived there. Wuala encrypts documents using the document's own SHA as the symmetric key for deduplication, meaning they cannot read your documents, but any MafiAA like party can still identify your documents.

        Afaik, you still need command line tools like duplicity [], git-annex [], an

      • by ccguy ( 1116865 )

        Who does want your real name -- and why?

        The fundamental reason is that it cannot be (easily) changed. I honestly don't give a fuck about anyone's else real name, but I appreciate when I can identify idiots and just ignore them forever, which is not easy to do when they can create new accounts in places every day.

        So well, when usually real names aren't needed, the lack of them makes it too easy for trolls to pollute forums and other social websites.

      • by raehl ( 609729 )

        The question here really is: Who does want your real name -- and why?

        It depends who you are. There are disadvantages to anonymity - a chief one of which is not knowing the reputation or motives of the anonymous person.

        Requiring a real name - identity - also creates more significant consequences for a person's actions, and enables better control over an environment. Prohibiting anonymity, for example, is often an excellent tool for reducing spam.

      • by crossmr ( 957846 )

        In Korea real name verification is used as a deterrent to internet ass-hattery. Since you can only create an account on a website using your name and ID# if you get banned, you can't make a new account without risking massive fines and jail time. In addition the website usually requires an additional verification via another method to ensure you really have control of that ID number. Usually you need to provide a cell phone that is registered with the same ID/name and a text is sent out to it, or you use a

      • by AP31R0N ( 723649 )

        Slashdot, news for paranoiacs.


        Google and Facebook want your real name so that people who know you can find you. That girl from algebra doesn't know you as fyngyrz. She knows your name.

    • Hell yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @04:21PM (#36926514) Homepage

      Hi, my name is Todd VerBeek, and I'm gay.

      I can say that. My family know, most of my friends know (if they're paying attention), I've even been on local TV talking about it. I don't have much legal protection, but I'm probably not going to get fired for it (again). I live in a community where people probably won't beat me for it (any more), and my government pretty much just treats me with neglect, not persecution.

      But not everyone is so lucky.

      One of my earliest forays into what's now called "social networking" was on CompuServ, back in late 1980s, where there was one section of one forum where people could talk openly about their experiences as gay/lesbian/bi people. That particular forum offered a level of anonymity: no full names. It would not have worked otherwise. And I might not have made it here without it.

      Yeah, it's a quarter century later now, but there are parts of the world (even parts of my own country) that are further behind than that. And not everyone has a quarter century of practice at dealing with self-disclosure. So yes: people like me in places like that need pseudonymous social networking. Obvious answer. Full stop. Next question?

      • by bberens ( 965711 )
        And on Google+ you could have created a pseudonym, just not a pseudonym that doesn't reasonably pass for a real name. Google just doesn't want a bunch of accounts for first_name: viagra, last_name: king. (with apologies to all the Viagra Kings out there, insensitive clod, etc.) Make a John Doe or Alejandro Quincy, or whatever other fake name you want.. it just needs to pass the whiff test that it *could* be a real name. Will the whiff test accidentally flag some legit legal names? Sure, but that's the
      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        Also consider the fact that there are bullies out there that can grow an extreme level of hate - like Breivik - and as well there are bullied people that as long as they remain anonymous behind a handle they are reasonably protected against physical attacks.

        So please save us from the world of "1984", or is it maybe the world of "Max Headroom"? Won't really matter, but it looks like the western world is going that way right now - more or less forced by the US.

    • Google+ doesn't ban pseudonyms, they only require that your pseudonym pass for a real name. They even explicitly say as much during the process of creating your profile. Make 100 John Doe accounts, no one cares.
      • by Jiro ( 131519 )

        That doesn't explain why people who were locked out of their accounts were told to send in drivers' licenses or other real-world documents that wouldn't have psuedonyms on them.

    • I disagree.

  • No. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 29, 2011 @02:58PM (#36925362)

    I always use my real name, and all others must, too.

    • by antdude ( 79039 )

      Your name is "Anonymous Coward"? ;)

  • It just seems a bit odd asking about need for pseudonyms, on /.

    • -Russell S. Harris

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Isn't every message board and online forum in existence pretty much just pseudonymous social networking?

  • Yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Daetrin ( 576516 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:01PM (#36925412)
    Take a look at Wikipedia's list of social networking sites. []

    The application of the name may be fairly recent, but the idea of social networking sites has been around forever. (In fact you could easily make a case for including Slashdot in the list on the basis of the friends/foes system and journal posts.) And very few of them have required the use of "real" names, and even fewer of those have actually tried to enforce it on a serious basis.
    • If you require a "real name" I will just create a false alternate identity (not stolen, just false) and use that. How is anyone going to know the difference?
      • Furthermore, what is the effective difference? Some people have supplemented their "actual identity" with another that may actually be far more known to people....wether the person behind the account known as "Foo" is actually Ralph Smith or not doesn't matter. He is known as Foo.

        I grew up in the heyday of the BBS. We would have meetups where we would just call each other by our respective handles. Why? That's how we knew one another. After years of correspondence your real name was effectively ir
    • "There are only two ways of telling the complete truth--anonymously and posthumously." -- Thomas Sowell

  • Perhaps I would feel differently if I lived in a place like Iran, but I see little reason to participate in a community where everyone hides their identity. It encourages too much bad behavior. That's one reason I (and everyone else) abandoned MySpace and moved to Facebook.
    • I agree. On one hand you have google plus and facebook - real names encourage responsible behavior. On the other end of the spectrum you get places like 4chan - and nothing beats that in irresponsible behavior. We have more and more anonymous places on the internets every single day - every forum, blogger site, places like reddit and digg, the list goes on. Just once I would like somewhere where I know the name of the person I am talking to and vice versa.
      • by wwphx ( 225607 )
        My issue is that I have no problem with using my real name among friends, but I also operate as a company and a game designer and use pseudonymous handles in those environments where I don't want those associated with my 'professional' handle as a computer professional. I have no problem with my pseudonymous handle being authenticated via a $1 credit card charge or snail mail or something, but it should be allowed.
    • Yes, but there are plenty of parts of the US where posting an unpopular position can lead to you not being offered work and effectively frozen out of the housing market.

      Not to mention what happens when there's a significant shift in public opinion back the other way.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:06PM (#36925484) Homepage
    from your friendly social network provider. This reminder is being brought to you, John Doe, on behalf of your favourite toilet paper. Please avoid using any and all aliases in your friendly and ultra-useful social networking realm as it interferes with targeted advertising/shareholder reven....errrr.....the quality of your user experience.
    Please do however continue clicking through the adverts you enjoy, purchasing the products you use in daily life, and applying for the various bank accounts and credit cards you wish. None of these services, their providers, your advertisers, or of course your friendly social network are in any way related and should not concern you in the least.

    the book of faces.

    P.S. Do consider a new subscription to netflix to complement the television you just purchased, your friend will bring the Doritos he has confirmed enjoyment of, and you both can appreciate the lice he recently cured with his purchase from WalMart Pharmacy.
  • Yes we need it. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc ( 621217 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:06PM (#36925490) Homepage
    In large part because pretending we can prevent it is stupid.

    The entire thing about being online is that text communication does not include any identifiable clues. You can't see the face, you can't hear the voice, you can't even measure the timing of the key strikes.

    Worse, it is very easy to get and use someone else's password. (A password dictionary of the top 100 passwords will work in at least 5% of cases).

    To require real identification would involve a massive change in technology that would unnecessarily invade a lot of privacy for things NOT done on social networks.

    The internet is designed for privacy, not security. Pretending otherwise just makes you look like a fool

    • I'm antisocial so I don't give a $hit about social networks but I understand the need for privacy. I post a lot from work and the company doesn't really need to know my screen name. If they really wanted to know who I am it probably wouldn't take too much effort (goes back to the security thing the parent noted above). But privacy doesn't necessarily give one the right to act like an a$$hole online as someone will make it their business to figure out who you are.
    • >The internet is designed for privacy, not security. Pretending otherwise just makes you look like a fool

      As a student of a few of those designers (at MIT), I can assure you it was designed for neither. The protocols were open and subject to inspection as they passed any party. There was a default assumption that you'd know the identify of any part on the network. More recent events have added layers of both privacy and security of certain sorts, but you have to rise out of the abyss of vague general

    • I think a major feature of not allowing pseudonyms is that many of these sites are intended to help people find each other. I'm not going to be thinking to myself "hey, is this the same Gurps_npc that I went to school with?" but I might think "Anthony Weiner, I remember him from spring break, I'll add him to my friends list". I do find myself thinking "I wonder what Sue is up to, I haven't seen her since that time in Woodstock" and typing in the search.

      But there's a need for pseudonyms too. But which are

    • by Rob Kaper ( 5960 )

      The entire thing about being online is that text communication does not include any identifiable clues. You can't see the face, you can't hear the voice, you can't even measure the timing of the key strikes.

      The same has probably once been said about paper. But then we invented pesky technologies such as photography, handwriting identification, watermarking, and fingerprinting... there is nothing inherently anonymous or private about digital communication. Privacy can exist due to technologic constraints and designs can be made to counteract advances in (digital) forensics, but privacy is inherently incompatible with any kind of exchange. Bits are routed, waves have signal strength, fotons cause sight, mass att

  • I say yes, pseudonyms are necessary. Is it my privacy, therefore it should be my choice whether to reveal myself directly or use a pseudonym.

  • I tried to use my real name, but it was already taken.
    • I have a friend who refused to join LinkedIn because six people with his name (with an unusual spelling) already had accounts.
    • Which is significantly more likely if you've got a common name as you'll be contending with not just the people with that common name, but with those with rare names that don't want folks tracking them all over the place.

  • In one sense a pseudonym is pointless, you can working out who someone is from their connection on a social media site so long as you already have enough background knowledge.
    On the other hand a pseudonym does stop basic abuses like an employer trawling the social media looking for "undesirable behaviour". That may not seem so bad, but what your current or future employer deems "undesirable" could effectively silence you. Spoken out about depression, gay rights, socialism etc? Any of those could be viewe

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      you can working out who someone is from their connection on a social media site so long as you already have enough background knowledge

      That's assuming they have links on their social network that connect back to them IRL. It's entirely possible to have a completely online group of friends, and to keep that world utterly separate.

      If I were to join a social network with a pseudonym, and then add my mom as a friend, then of course you can figure out who I am. If I join a social network with a pseudonym and

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:15PM (#36925632) Journal
    While it isn't false that users in repressive regimes have an obvious interest in privacy, the notion that the feds are your primary concern is so hopelessly naive that I almost find it hard to believe that it isn't purposefully deceptive.

    So, let's look at the social-networking life of your average resident of a Not-Repressive(tm) contemporary society: The secret police aren't going to be bashing down the door for saying the wrong thing, so nothing to worry about, eh? Well, yeah, not exactly...

    How many schools(for the under-21s in the crowd) will treat a picture of you with a red plastic cup as presumptive evidence of illegal drinking? How many companies will skip you for being a touch controversial online? How about that canadian case of an insurance company deciding that a picture of the patient smiling was evidence that they were not depressed, and further support could be cut? Heck, to ignore organizations entirely, how about the 'timmy thinks he might be of the homosexual persuasion, doesn't really want ma and pa bible-belt to find out' use case?

    While repressive regimes do suck, and anybody who runs one should definitely trip and hit their head on a bullet, the notion that the state is your primary concern(among people who have plenty of leisure internet and broadly unfettered access) is openly absurd. It's the private sector: schools, colleges, corporations, parents, etc. who you really need to watch out for.
    • The problem with your argument is that privacy is not the solution; it buttresses the private sector behaviors you list. One counter-solution is the light of day and not allowing such organizations to, for instance, have an opaque process which allows them to assume "red cup in hand" means drinking-- not that it's any of their business if a person was drinking in private! Ditto your extreme ma & pa in the bible belt example: its not that extreme, and reasonable privacy as an option (not default)

    • Easy, just drink out of blue cups and you should be fine. Blue cups mean that whatever liquid is in it must be non-alcoholic.

  • by w_dragon ( 1802458 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:17PM (#36925648)
    There's a simple problem with social networking with pseudonyms: you can't find people from real life.

    For something like Slashdot it makes no difference, I don't care if people commenting here are people I know in real life, we build the community based on the user names we have here. But for Facebook, which is all about connecting with people you actually know, it would be impossible for the system to exist if everyone used aliases. It works if a few people use pseudonyms because that person can still find friends using their real names, but it breaks if someone using a pseudonym is trying to find someone else who also uses a pseudonym. Because large-scale use of pseudonyms would be very detrimental to their use model, I think it's perfectly understandable why facebook and Google+ don't want pseudonyms.
    • Re:no (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:39PM (#36925952) Homepage

      It'd be easy to incorporate pseudonyms in Google+. Just let the user set what nicknames their circles would see them as. So your blogging friends might see you as CleverBlogNickName while your family might see you as Real Name and your college buddies might see you as Frat Nickname. Your blogging friends wouldn't be able to see your real name even if Google had it in the Profile.

      • But how would your friends find you to add you to their circles in the first place?
        • your friends already know you, besides the way it works with a site like facebook is once you hook up with one friend they pretty much hook you up with everyone else.

          Taking slashdot for an example there are a number of celebrities who read and post on here, do they really want to be generally known by their actual name.

          Actually that's part of the fun, figuring out if someone really knows what they are talking about or just bullshitting to a convincing level.


    • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

      The idea that such a site is only for people who are "trying to find you" is dead in the water. What if I set up a page, and inform my family, perhaps by email, that the page is there and I'll welcome family conversations there, but no one else? Perhaps I'm not interested in the people I knew in high school at all, eh? Or at work, for that matter.

      I think it's perfectly understandable why facebook and Google+ don't want pseudonyms.

      Well, of course it is. That information is worth money to Google and Facebook

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      There's a simple problem with social networking with pseudonyms: you can't find people from real life.

      That's not a bug, it's a feature. If you know someone in real life, ask them if they have an account. This lets them decide who they want reading their page.

    • Re:no (Score:4, Insightful)

      by iceaxe ( 18903 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @06:43PM (#36928658) Journal

      You (and Facebook, and Google, sadly) drastically underestimate the sorts of ways these tools can be legitimately used (not abused).

      You say:

      Facebook, which is all about connecting with people you actually know

      But what if the group of people with whom I wish to connect know me by my pseudonym? And I know them by theirs? And none of us has a clue what each others' so-called "real names" are, and like it that way?

      I have no interest in spamming, trolling, or scamming anyone. I just want to use the tool(s) in the way that works best for me, and harms nobody.

    • Maybe you can't find people from real life with pseudonyms, but not all of us have that problem. Where I'm from -- literally, my geographic area -- social networking under nyms is so normal, that if I want to find someone on the internet, I say, for example, "Hey, are you on LJ? I'm so-and-so on LJ." And if they want to have anything to do with me, they can come "friend" me there. I have almost 300 people on my LJ flist, about two thirds of whom are people in my f2f social circle, the vast majority of wh
    • There's one big advantage with social networking with pseudonyms: you can't find people from real life.

      Here, fixed it for you.

      Agreed, real names encourage responsible social behavior. But they also encourage social control, government control, and censoring through social, legal, and monetary pressure.

      I shouldn't write: "Although my boss doesn't know it yet, I just started looking at other job options." Peter Smith, Austin
      I don't want to write: "I had the same problem. Better see a doctor before it spreads." Peter Smith, Austin

      Anything I ever said or say online, will be available to my employer, to

  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:17PM (#36925658) Homepage

    Google+ isn't the problem. Google's use of "crowdsourcing" in search results is the problem.

    Google values links, reviews, and now "likes". All can be, and are, be spammed using anonymous accounts on social networks and blogs. This is why there are so many spam posts on blogs, phony reviews, and phony accounts on social networks. Those aren't there for humans - they're there to feed Google's ranking system.

    This was a nagging problem for years, but didn't get much attention outside the "search engine optimization" community. It went over the top in Q4 2010, when Google Places was merged into Google web search, and the payoff for social spam increased. Now there are articles in the New York Times [] about it. 40% of the jobs on Amazon's Mechanical Turk are for spamming.

    Now the trend is toward requiring a login from some non-anonymous social network to post on blogs and forums. That reduces spam targeted at Google. None of this has anything to do with human readers.

  • Yes. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:19PM (#36925686)

    Do we need pseudonyms? Yes.

    Here's why: because for every troll you manage to thwart by making them more identifiable and thus hopefully more accountable, there are innumerable people out there that for various reasons wish to remain anonymous but have useful things to contribute. Sometimes the only way in which they are able to safely contribute is via anonymous or pseudonymous accounts (e.g., for reasons of job or personal security). Otherwise they will remain silent.

    You may have some idea of how many trolls you've stopped, but trolls will inevitably still be there and you'll never know how many people you have discouraged from participating that aren't trolls.

    Let me put it this way. I've only ever contributed to Slashdot as AC. Nevertheless, I have submitted numerous posts that have received +5 Insightful from the mods, and I've had 3 or 4 story submissions accepted too over the years. I wouldn't have submitted them without AC.

    It's also why I don't have a Facebook page, and why I'm no longer interested in Google+.

  • For most social networking, your real name is your best asset, and when everyone is verified to be who they are, the spam and trolling drop to minimal levels.

    For agitprop boards, everyone should be anonymous. Spam and trolling are innate, but most people consider everyone else's propaganda to be spam and trolling anyway.

    Attempting to require the ability to be anonymous on anyone's social-networking server is like demanding the right to pee from the second deck at Wrigley Field.

  • countries where identification could have serious implications for those who have expressed political views or associated themselves with others who have

    In the U.S., that would come more from the private sector than the government per se. Retribution is most likely to come from employers - and potential employers even more so - who don't like your views or associations. Even when there's no explicit retribution, it leads to self-censorship as people actively seek to avoid offending the boss and otherwise practice various forms of online brown-nosing. As we learned from the blacklists of the McCarthy era, denying people the right to make a living for their p

  • I don't really see a distinction between a pseudonym username (ie, Captain Avenger) and a made up real name (ie Joe Smith). The later would be accepted by Google+ and FB, the former most likely not, and yet both are pseudonyms because they're not the actual name of the user.

    As such I don't see why you would need a two-tiered system. Additionally, I don't see why you wouldn't just allow pseudonyms of any kind in any social network. You're not gaining anything by enforcing a "real name" because you can't a

  • by bhmit1 ( 2270 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:32PM (#36925874) Homepage

    Admit that you'll never know if anyone's name online is their real name, let them put whatever name they want, but then limit what they can do until they build up some reputation.

    If they are a new user, don't let them run around spamming on everyone else's posts and throttle the number of activities they can take until it's been verified by other more trusted members. Allow people to flag posts or identities as spam, and follow up with moderators (or even algorithms analyzing the flags) to suspend or outright ban the offender.

    There's no need to reinvent the wheel here.

  • by Infiniti2000 ( 1720222 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:33PM (#36925896)

    I don't mind allowing the option for anonymity for those who need or want it, but I also want the ability to disable viewing anonymous drivel; which a large percentage of the time (IMO) these are links to goatse and rickrolls. For instance, here on /. I disable viewing posts scored 0 or less and don't even look at AC posts until someone else has gone through the pain to verify that the post isn't crap.

    In other words, I fully support others' right to free speech and anonymity, but I even more desire my right to not fucking hear it.

    • In that respect, Google+ and Twitter seem to get it right. (Facebook probably does too, but I don't use it so I can't speak for it.) You won't see people's updates unless you decide to follow the person. And, if the person begins posting updates that you don't care to see, you can unfollow them quickly and easily, removing their updates from your main screen. This is in contrast with message boards/comment sections, like Slashdot, where you see everyone's responses whether you want to or not. (Perhaps

  • Subject is the message.

  • by batouzo ( 2424666 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:42PM (#36925984)
    If you imagined a twitter where noone can ever block you, censor you, or trace you - then this is actually already true. We forget about Google+ and FB - we think decentralized and independent :) Sone is actually implementing Twitter-like functionality in Freenet. While still in beta, it works surprisingly fast! Posts appear in minute or so after posting, which is blazing-fast as for strong crypto-network that is not centralized and can not be censored. Since last week (version 1386) Freenet finally is no longer a burden to computer! IO and hdd use was fixed and compared to last years it is really not a problem to use this software on even medium computers. instalation takes 3-5 minutes. Then from main page bookmark "Sone" - link to .jar file USK@.......jar should be copied into Configuration > Plugins - add unofficiall plugin from freenet (it is still in beta), also add WoT (web of trust) plugin from the list there - solve some captchas while creating Pseudonym (the new main menu tab Community) and then create your free twitter (Sone) by clicking top menu "Sone". See you there ;) any questions - both Sone and Freenet developers are on IRC freeNODE - #freenet afaik.
  • Consider Publius (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:45PM (#36926024) Homepage

    "While the idea of anonymous social networking sounds like an oxymoron, the use of pseudonyms to mask a user's online identity has a long history that stretches back to the earliest days of the Internet and local bulletin board systems (BBS)."

    The use of pseudonymous communication goes a bit further back than that. The value to society is rather plainly displayed in the body of the Federalist Papers, by Publius -- a pseudonym for Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. Anyone who argues that pseudonymity is a bad thing has to explain how The Federalist Papers would have been better without it, or how The United States would have been better without The Federalist Papers.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Friday July 29, 2011 @03:56PM (#36926172)

    This goes back a lot further than social networks. We all maintain multiple identities across different social circles, starting with the language we use while watching the hockey game with Dad when Mom is out of the house.

    Blakley on Fashion and Intellectual Property []

    Fashion has always functioned as an identity hack. I'm as much into fashion as any fashionista, but not sartorial fashion; I mince, but not in drag; I'm queen of the lateral link; Uruk-hai ninja of the face-palm rebuttal. But not on my cravat or my crevice sack, by which I declare myself Puritan of Pattern Recognition. Nor have I scribbled on my leather pyjamas: I can't figure out which anthropic landscape to pick from; it seems premature. Blakley got my goat a bit by presuming that the game is only played on sartorial terms. Forgive me if that paragraph is not my regular office gab.

    Hey, I've got an idea. Let's do it all online. What I say in the locker room, what I say to the girl I spoke about in the locker room, what I tell my parents when I come home late after speaking to said girl, let's make the whole thing part of a unified dossier. What could possibly go wrong?

    I might work for a company that couldn't care less about my verbal excursions. But they might want to present me to an investor as a level-headed character who is the brains behind the operation. Now, the investors already know that it's a coin flip whether the brains behind the operation is a total flake in his private life. (So true.) Mostly, they don't really care. But if you rub their nose in it, they have to care. CF CYA.

    A flake with the good grace to hide the fact will suffice if the job gets done. This becomes a tenuous proposition on Fishbowl+. (I'll learn to love that + sign yet. It goes anywhere. I could even print a T-shirt --Fishbowl+ if I weren't so busy hiding my other half; or my other half wasn't so busy hiding from me.)

    It's also a sign of social grace is knowing when to let it go and not peering over the fence into ever aspect of the social lives of the people you work for, with, or employ.

    From Mark Brezinski at Sennheiser CX 980 Comparison []

    The CX 980s have a slightly cooler-looking design on their ear buds and plug, but the mc5s have a splash of color to them and really, whoâ(TM)s studying your ears so much they notice a subtle design flourish on your in-ears? Creepy people, thatâ(TM)s who. What would your mother say if she knew you were deliberately accessorizing your ears for creepy people?

    We'll all be accessorizing for creepy people if this direction continues. Kudos to Mr Brezinski for this wonderful send-up of coolspotting.

    • My entire last post was essentially a satire on Constantly Risking Absurdity [], one of perhaps three nuggets I've retained from my private school education. Knew it would come in handy, some day.

      When I first read that poem during my years at Pretentious High I regarded it as a send-up of narcissism. I reluctantly completed many written assignments by starting out complaining that I had nothing to write about (which is effectively writing about oneself) and then seguing into something more interesting from w

  • In a service like Google+, where the user controls the network participants, then anonymity doesn't really make sense, right? I mean, who would accept an invite from someone they didn't know? Ditto for FB.

    In another context such as a comment on Slashdot, where somebody else decides what gets seen by whom, then anonymity would be handy for all the usual reasons people give.

  • There are lots of places to be semi-anonymous. I use my /. handle on a bunch of forums - it's my second online personality that's a bit more outgoing than I would otherwise be on a public forum. My FB (and, presumably, Google+ when I get there) profile will be with my real name, and only involve people I know. Hell, I don't even allow "friends" on FB who are business colleagues, generally. If business contacts find me, I tell them I have a limited circle of hobby and family acquaintences on FB, and I send

  • "Go right ahead and do that."
    If you claim to need social networking so much that you're willing to compromise your right to privacy, then what you really "need" is psychotherapy and possibly anti-psychotic medication(s). Face the fact: It can be fun, but your life really isn't any less meaningful without it.

    Facebook, Google+, etc: Go fuck yourselves, OK? Didn't need you before, don't need you and your bullshit now, either. I have real, actual friends that I see and converse with in person on a re
  • If you posts things related to your employer under your clear name, regardless of positive, neutral or negative, you can be in violation of your employers social media guidelines. This can lead to a formal dissuasion coupled with a fine, and also termination in serious cases or on repeat offenses. This is according to Swiss law, but similar things are in place all over Europe, as you may not represent you employer without explicit permission.

    It is even worse if you are a consultant. Quite a few large coope

  • We shouldn't overlook the fact that there are short-term pseudonyms and long-term pseudonyms. Short-term names are used to post to internet forums when "anonymous" isn't an option, or they're chosen to be witty or funny or something like that. The poster has nothing invested in that particular name, and so doesn't care if people associate that name with douchebaggery, or even if that name is banned or blacklisted. Then there are long-term online pseudonyms, alternate identities which people create over th
  • I don't advocate real name policies, but this doesn't mean the problems with using real names shouldn't be fixed if possible. For example, remember the Blizzard real name fiasco? Guess what this article [] uses as an example?

If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments. -- Earl Wilson