I'm working on organizing a protest (through g+ of course! ;) of g+'s pseudonymity policy, where we'll create cardboard cutouts of "deleted friends" and label them things like: "abuse survivor" "off duty cop" "Second Life professional artist" or "Arab spring activist" and form human chains of "real" and deleted people around local Google offices. Every protest should be a memetic art project, doncha think? ;). It's a positive protest -- a celebration of sorts -- we'll just dance, physically, at Google's offices, every Friday, with our symbolically deleted friends, until Google tells us we can dance with them online, again.
Google -- you're supposed to be the people who GET IT!
I'm playing with the idea of us showing up on 7/29. Press invited. International flash mob.
Online identity shouldn't deny people the ability to have professional and social and political lives online - but sometimes those have to be articulated for privacy.
How many people today think that school teachers should be single women only? That was the norm, a century ago, for similar reasons - a teacher in public schools today could not have a private social or political expression (however benign) without separation from his/her professional identity.
Likewise, law enforcement, a judge, a crisis or drug counselor. How about a political blogger in Syria, or Vietnam, or Iran or any of dozens of countries?
Google should welcome pseudonymity. A pseudonym is a laser focused market identity. That judge might not have very exciting commercial interests. But his pseudonym may be shopping for high end gay resort vacations. Ultimately, so long as his method of payment is good, does it really hurt Google's bottom line if PII suffers from MPD? In terms of volume of dollars spent and ads clicked, I'd speculate it helps it.
But if the goal is to do no evil, privacy must be preserved. The abuse survivor must be able to communicate and have an online community of support under a pseudonym while the abuser, often family, is still close at hand. The Arab Spring and other movements should have hope for a safer seedbed than Facebook. Online communications can be awful when abused, but let's not forget that they are vital to our liberties and culture offline in a tightly coupled way.
We can no longer meaningfully talk about "online culture" and "offline culture." Do we talk about telephone "culture?" No. We only differentiate fine points of etiquette and a few oddments of law. We live with people, we communicate with people.
My Cisco sales guy, Joe Alexander, may actually be Jose Alejandro. I'd never know. My Dell tech support contact, Adam, in live chat? Probably Krishna. Half the actors in IMDB have a "born as" record. Some, because of SAG rules. Some, because studios thought they had "funny names." And not a few to hide they were Jewish, in a time that was not great for your career.
Suddenly, there is some virtue to this Eurocentric idea of "real names." (Yes, Eurocentric - look at much of Korea or China for name diversity, or count Mohammed Alis in the world).
There are so many reasons this policy is half baked. Ultimately, it's been said above: banning should be on behavior.
Bring you deleted friends to a nearby Google office on 7/29. Tell Google, don't be stupid. It's too close to being evil.