Aug 042011
 

For those of you who are unaware, one of the MANY issues with Google+ (in addition to having the big “male/female/other” requirement, and being SUPER hostile to adult content, including links to adult content marked NSFW) is that they are requiring you to use your legal name. If it is found that you are not using your legal name, your account can be deleted. If your Google+ account is deleted, that includes the Gmail account to which it is attached, which at least for me, would delete over 6 years of emails, files, etc and would really suck.

Why is this such an issue? Well, let’s start.

*Many trans folks have not had a legal name change (some states have VERY stringent requirements involving hormones, surgery, doctor’s letters, etc) based on their circumstances, whether it is a transition thing, a medical thing, a family/rights thing, a money/cost thing, etc. Requiring them to use their legal name rather than their real name is forcing them to out themselves. This can be dangerous.

*Adult stars and sex workers usually don’t use their legal names for a myriad of reasons. Requiring them to do so not only outs them, but puts them in danger from stalkers, being outed to their family, etc, not to mention legal repercussions if it is sex work that can be prosecuted (and keep in mind, not all sex work is illegal).

*Women often use different names online to keep themselves and families safe. Perhaps they’ve gotten out of an abusive relationship, or perhaps they have a more unique name, and don’t ant every asshole on a social network googling their home address.

*Lots of sex educators work under other names.  I did when I started out. Why? Because even now, my partner and I worry about people showing up on my door step. I get harassing phone calls sometimes. Luckily, most of my family is supportive, but not everyone has that privilege. Many great sexuality educators work under not their legal name; Midori, Ayden Fire, Sir Top and slave bonnie, Madison Young, etc. There are many others, but I don’t want to out them as not using their legal names.

*Most sex bloggers (and bloggers in general) blog under other names. Why? Safety; not just the physical danger issue, but losing their jobs, custody of their kids, their partners, and more. Has this happened when they’ve been outed? Absolutely.

*Many people just don’t go by their legal names. If your name is Katherine and you go by Katie, could Google+ delete you? Possibly. What about if you go by your middle name instead of your first name? Or you use your partner’s last name, but haven’t legally changed it?

The list goes on and on and on. Folks with disabilities. Celebrities (local, national and international). Whistleblowers. Authors. Gamers. There are so many incredible reasons someone would choose not to use their LEGAL name on a social media site, or on the internet in general, so how dare we force them to do so, at risk of losing their gmail and other google centric accounts if google deems their name not real?  Luckily, a group is creating a site with real people sharing their stories about why they choose not to use their legal name (you can use any name you want to post on the site), and they are looking for submissions. If you’re a person who would be affected by using your legal name online, or part of a group for whom you can speak, they’d love to hear from you. Their info is below.

Thank you for your help and understand on this issue, and sharing it with others so that they can understand why in fact this is a pretty big deal,

Shanna

From http://my.nameis.me/make-a-statement/:

Make a statement

We’re looking for more people to write for us about why they support the freedom to choose your own name online.

While we appreciate that thousands upon thousands of people worldwide feel strongly about this issue, the most valuable statements come from those who are famous or prominent in their fields, or those who can speak on behalf of populations who need to choose their own names.

So, we’re particularly looking for individuals like:

  • Performance artists (musicians, actors, etc), especially those who use stage names
  • Authors, journalists and other writers, especially those who use pen names
  • Politicians and prominent political activists
  • Sex educators and sex workers
  • Religious leaders
  • … and any other notable or famous person who supports people’s freedom to choose their own name online.

Or people who represent organisations like:

  • Domestic violence support groups
  • LGBT advocacy groups
  • Civil rights groups
  • Groups working with children at risk
  • Disability advocacy groups
  • … and any other organization working with people who commonly want the freedom to choose their own name online

If you fit the above descriptions, or can introduce us to someone who does, please get in touch with us!

  4 Responses to “Not Having To Use Your Real Name”

  1. My g+ account was deleted and it did not affect any other Google products that I use, such as my gmail. I believe I’ve read in a place or two that Google perhaps confirmed that you don’t lose your Gmail based services, and a few others that got the boot from G+ confirmed their gmail was safe as well.

    At first their note on my profile page gave generic reasons and I couldn’t tell if it was my name (I used Lilly Dangeroux) or my content, so I submitted for reconsideration after removing a few things from the public portion of my profile. Today I saw an update, which confirmed it was the name issue. They gave a link to submit a request for reconsideration again, specifically on the name issue. It gives you two optional fields: Prove that it’s your legal name by uploading a photo of your Photo ID OR link to various “mainstream” places where you are referred to as such. I linked to a Clean Sheets story that listed Lilly Dangeroux as the author; my Blogged.com profile of the same name; and a newly-created FB account (using a different, new gmail address) as LD. Facebook likely counts as the only “mainstream” site. I’m really not expecting this to work, it’s primarily a test.

    All that aside, yes this is an issue and while I can see a small amount of their point (spam, trolling, identity theft) as an anonymous blogger I think they should allow a profile to be marked as “verified” or not – i.e. showing to the public that it is a pseudonym or a real name account. I wouldn’t mind at all having my profile marked as pseudonym, if it would be something to help get this changed. Not that Google will take logical gray-area solutions, though.

  2. This isn’t really entirely accurate. As Dangerous Lilly points out, this does not result in people losing their Gmail services, nor is it actually a “legal name” requirement; it’s a “real name” requirement, which is easier to fulfill. I don’t necessarily disagree with your main point, which is that there are good and valid reasons for wanting to maintain anonymity online, but I did want to note that the consequences are not as dire as it might seem.

    Also, I’m very curious–what do you mean when you say that G+ is hostile to adult content? I haven’t seen anything about this.

  3. Lilly- good to know about not losing your gmail. I’d also be interested to hear what happens of your re-submission.

    Jess – Violet Blue has written a lot about it, so I’d check out TinyNibbles.com for her info. Basically, no adult content is allowed, period, or your account may be deleted. This includes links (for example, to this site, which they deem as 18+ even though I’ve been cautious to have no nudity). It doesn’t matter if you mark it NSFW or adult only, or if it has it’s own screener page — if G+ deems that it is adult/NSFW, or someone else flags it, your account can be terminated.

  4. I updated my post on the whole matter but basically I was again denied. And this time I give up, I’ve deleted my G+ profile/account and whatever posts/comments of mine may be left.

    Someone else who commented on my post today had an issue – he was actually discovered because multiple people flagged his account because of the name. He managed to speak with tech support at Google and he changed his name to something real-sounding and suddenly, all was well. It wasn’t his legal name.

    I’d be probably maybe ok to stay, maybe, if I’d changed my name on my account to Lilly SomethingRealLastNameSounding. But I’m not playing into their bullshit tunnel vision. And I’d be violating the Adult Content shit anyways.

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