Short answer No – I’m headed to the protest today at Facebook.
A post about the experience will be up here by tomorrow. I’ll be tweeting from my account there which is of course @identitywoman
Post from Sept 2014
Mid-July, friend called me up out of the blue and said “we won!”
“We won what” I asked.
“Google just officially changed its policy on Real Names”
He said I had to write a post about it. I agreed but also felt disheartened.
We won but we didn’t it took 3 years before they changed.
They also created a climate online where it was OK and legitimate for service providers to insist on real names.
For those of you not tracking the story – I along with many thousands of people had our Google+ accounts suspended – this posts is an annotated version of all of those.
This was the Google Announcement:
When we launched Google+ over three years ago, we had a lot of restrictions on what name you could use on your profile. This helped create a community made up of real people, but it also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names.
Over the years, as Google+ grew and its community became established, we steadily opened up this policy, from allowing +Page owners to use any name of their choosing to letting YouTube users bring their usernames into Google+. Today, we are taking the last step: there are no more restrictions on what name you can use.
We know you’ve been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today’s change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is.
There was lots of coverage.
Google kills real names from ITWire.
Google Raises White Flag on Real Names Policy in the Register.
Change Framed as No Longer Having Limitations Google Offers Thanks for Feedback in Electronista
Google Stops Forcing All Users to Use Their Real Names in Ars Technica
The most important was how Skud wrote a “real” apology that she thought Google should have given:
When we launched Google+ over three years ago, we had a lot of restrictions on what name you could use on your profile. This helped create a community made up of people who matched our expectations about what a “real” person was, but excluded many other real people, with real identities and real names that we didn’t understand.
We apologise unreservedly to those people, who through our actions were marginalised, denied access to services, and whose identities we treated as lesser. We especially apologise to those who were already marginalised, discriminated against, or unsafe, such as queer youth or victims of domestic violence, whose already difficult situations were worsened through our actions. We also apologise specifically to those whose accounts were banned, not only for refusing them access to our services, but for the poor treatment they received from our staff when they sought support.
Everyone is entitled to their own identity, to use the name that they are given or choose to use, without being told that their name is unacceptable. Everyone is entitled to safety online. Everyone is entitled to be themselves, without fear, and without having to contort themselves to meet arbitrary standards.
As of today, all name restrictions on Google+ have been lifted, and you may use your own name, whatever it is, or a chosen nickname or pseudonym to identify yourself on our service. We believe that this is the only just and right thing to do, and that it can only strengthen our community.
As a company, and as individuals within Google, we have done a lot of hard thinking and had a lot of difficult discussions. We realise that we are still learning, and while we appreciate feedback and suggestions in this regard, we have also undertaken to educate ourselves. We are partnering with LGBTQ groups, sexual abuse survivor groups, immigrant groups, and others to provide workshops to our staff to help them better understand the needs of all our users.
We also wish to let you know that we have ensured that no copies of identification documents (such as drivers’ licenses and passports), which were required of users whose names we did not approve, have been kept on our servers. The deletion of these materials has been done in accordance with the highest standards.
If you have any questions about these changes, you may contact our support/PR team at the following address (you do not require a Google account to do so). If you are unhappy, further support can be found through our Google User Ombuds, who advocates on behalf of our users and can assist in resolving any problems.
BotGirl chimed in with her usual clear articulate videos about the core issues.
And this talk by Alessandro Acquisti surfaced about. Why privacy matters
Google has learned something from this but it seems like other big tech companies haven not.