That’s the question at the heart of the ‘nym’ rhetoric wars taking place across the Web right now, asking if pseudonyms have a valuable place in online — and other — discourse.
A small rebellion against Google’s “real names” policy has been brewing on its burgeoning social network, Google+, over the right to anonymity and pseudonymity, and this weekend Google chairman Eric Schmidt reportedly weighed in on the matter.
Google requires users to use their real names for its Google Profiles and on its social network, which has prompted some backlash from those who say that requiring real names can put political dissidents, domestic violence victims and others in danger.
According to a report from NPR’s Andy Carvin at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, Schmidt said that Google+ was built primarily as an identity service and that those worried about using their real names shouldn’t use the service.
Carvin, who paraphrased the chairman’s remarks on his own Google+ account, wrote that Schmidt also said that the service “depends on people using their real names if [Google is] going to build future products that leverage that information.”
Schmidt also reportedly said that the Internet would be better if people were identified by their true identities.