Too many analyses of Google’s and Facebook’s Real Names policy take a narrow view of pseudonyms, conceding only that they may benefit for example “[dissidents] in Egypt, China, colonial America [and] whistle-blowers inside corporations and labour unions” (see Berin Szoka’s “What’s in a Pseudo-name?”).
There’s evidently a belief that regular upstanding citzens have no need for pseudonyms, and a veiled suspicion that wanting one means you must have something to hide. Yet in truth, a great many ordinary Internet users have developed pseudonymous habits to protect themselves in the Wild West that is cyberspace today.
To frustrate the efforts of junk mailers and spammers, it’s standard practice amongst many to use multiple e-mail addresses, or to fib about their location or their age when filling in forms. And where does the Real Names creed leave all the advice we’ve been giving our kids for years in social networking, to hide their age, their location and any identifying details?
It’s important for everyone — not just Mid-Eastern freedom fighters — to have the autonomy to represent themselves how they like social settings.
What a twisted world is cyberspace these days! Think about it: Why the hell is the onus on users to defend their use of nicknames, when it ought to be the informopolies that justify imposing their self-serving rules on how we users refer to ourselves? We don’t go around in public with our ‘real names’ tattooed on our foreheads! No “Social network” should be dictating how we socialise!