A lot has been made of Google's so-called "real-name" policy when it comes to Google+, and recent comments from Google Chair Eric Schmidt seem to indicate the search giant has no intentions on softening its stance.
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Schmidt reportedly told NPR's Andy Carvin that Google+ was built as an "identity service." Essentially, Google wants you to use your real name because it needs that information for future efforts that are based on your identity. Did Google really just get into the social networking game to amass more information about you? I think so.
Think about it: Your social networking profile is a treasure trove of personal information. It says a lot about who you are and what you may like (or dislike) at any given point. One of Google's primary businesses is advertising: that information is invaluable in this industry. The more highly targeted the ad, the more likely you're going to click on it.
Don't expect any sympathy from Google, either. If you don't like the company's policies, don't sign up for Google+, says Schmidt. "It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+," Carvin paraphrases Schmidt. There you have it: Google will not change its real-names policy. Period.
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Schmidt's blunt tone certainly comes across as if the company is tiring of the debate and aims to put it to rest once and for all. It also makes it seem as if the company isn't in Google+ for the right reasons, though: your data is constantly mined for the Google's benefit, and not to change the way social networking is done in a positive way.
Maybe I had too high expectations for a service from a company whose mantra used to be "Don't be evil." But now I feel as if I need to keep in the back of my head that Google could be using every word of what I say to try to sell me something, or to build an ever increasingly more comprehensive virtual picture of my real self.
A little tinfoil hat? Maybe. But in this day and age, I think it's a valid concern: Online privacy seems to have taken a backseat to profiteering and data collection, and that stinks.
This story, "Why Google+ Really Wants You to Use Your Real Name" was originally published by PCWorld.