Monday, August 29, 2011

Google+ Nymwars controversy: the short version

Supporters of the Real Names policy of Google+ argue that it provides a safe environment for the consumer of their social networking service, who can relax securely and comfortably online talking only to those people they know they can trust (that's the theory as I understand it, anyway).

Opponents see it as an issue of ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to participate in public online life, something which is not possible on Google+ with their current policy.

So I think it boils down to the question of whether you view the controversy in terms of online business or online politics.

It's online politics all the way for me. I view the Internet in terms of how it can change the world, not how it can make a few people very rich. The Google+ controversy is about a mega-entity like Google systematically excluding people from participation in a public forum. The free speech and privacy issues aren't solved by the business-oriented perspective of saying "don't use Google+ if you don't like it". That answer take some fundamental ideas about liberty that I hold dear - the incredible importance of privacy and freedom of speech - and makes them sound equivalent to carping about the problems of a brand of toothpaste. The issue is a tad more important than that.

1 comment:

Singularity Utopia said...

Safety without freedom is very dangerous.