“Real Names” Policies Are an Abuse of Power - danah boyd ⇢
Starting from her research into youth, people of color, abuse victims, LGBT folks, and other marginalized groups, danah makes a short and sweet refutation of the premises of normalcy and naturalness of the Google ‘Real Names’ policy. She ends up here:
There is no universal context, no matter how many times geeks want to tell you that you can be one person to everyone at every point. But just because people are doing what it takes to be appropriate in different contexts, to protect their safety, and to make certain that they are not judged out of context, doesn’t mean that everyone is a huckster. Rather, people are responsibly and reasonably responding to the structural conditions of these new media. And there’s nothing acceptable about those who are most privileged and powerful telling those who aren’t that it’s OK for their safety to be undermined. And you don’t guarantee safety by stopping people from using pseudonyms, but you do undermine people’s safety by doing so.
Thus, from my perspective, enforcing “real names” policies in online spaces is an abuse of power.
The Zuckerberg Fallacy is a travesty of dogmatic ideology, based on a asbergerish premise of a single public identity to be mandated and used in all contexts.
Zuckerberg said “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity” in an interview with David Kirkpatrick, which directly attacks the motives of anyone advancing an opposite argument.
Facebook and now Google have adopted this model because they think of us as consumers, not people. They want to track our doings, for their own ends.
But in a fragmented world online our identity is becoming a network of context-dependent identities, or multiphrenic identity as Kenneth Gergen styled it, and as I explored:
Stowe Boyd, Multiphrenic Identity
We invest ourselves into relationships that are shaped by the affordances of the tools and the particular social contracts of the contexts. Through these relationships new and perhaps unexpected insights into others and ourselves arise. And we participate in dozens of these social environments, possibly with non-overlapping constituencies, each focused on different aspects of the greater world: entertainment, food, news, social causes, health, religion, sex, you name it. We become adept at shifting registers, just like polyglots shift from Italian to Corsican to Catalan without even thinking about it. We are multiphrenic.
It’s an interesting paradox — and one that might spell the limits of Google+ success — that Google has built the Circles capability so that people can break up their monolithic social world into separate scenes. But Google won’t let you be Carlos in one, and Carlotta in another, even if that is how you are known those possibly non-overlapping groups.
I am known as an advocate for publicy: living out loud online. But nearly every time I discuss living openly I make the case for privacy and secrecy, which are essential elements of life for all of us.
A social tool that prohibits fundamental and non-harmful human behaviors is oppressive, and such oppression means that we are justified in breaking their ‘laws’ to the extent that we can.