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skud ([personal profile] skud) wrote2011-07-31 01:51 pm
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An update on my Google Plus suspension

Mirrored from Infotropism. You can comment there or here.

I’ve been updating this post as I hear anything from Google Profiles Support, most recently three days ago (Thursday 28th July). However, that post’s getting long, and I keep having people ask me what’s going on, or why I don’t do X or haven’t I considered Y, so I thought I’d post a summary/update.

The current status is:

  • My account is still suspended — nine days and counting.
  • They won’t accept my evidence that I am called “Skud” in daily life, and have asked to see my government ID instead.
  • As far as I can tell, they want me to change my name on their service to “Kirrily Robert”, with “Skud” in the nickname field on my “about” page. This is not acceptable to me, as “Skud” — the common name by which most people know me — would not show anywhere on my posts.
  • I don’t want to change to just “Kirrily Robert” as that would confuse many of my friends. However, I am willing to change to a hybrid (eg. Kirrily “Skud” Robert) as long as “Skud” shows somewhere on my posts and comments. (My name is not a true pseudonym, but a long-standing and widely-used nickname, so unlike many, I don’t have privacy concerns about disclosing the name on my government ID.)
  • In fact, a few days ago I actually edited my profile to show Kirrily “Skud” Robert and enquired whether this is acceptable. They have not responded, and do not appear to have reviewed it.
  • In my email to them, I said that if the formatting on “Skud” (with quote marks) bothered them, I would like to hear their suggestions on more acceptable formatting. They aren’t answering.
  • After a week of no resolution, I attempted to escalate by Cc’ing my support emails to relevant staff within Google. There was no response whatsoever, and pointed silence from a good friend who works as a user advocate on G+ identity issues, which leads me to believe that staff have been instructed not to speak on the issue, or not to respond to me, or both.

Here’s what I want from Google, in order of immediacy:

  • A meaningful, non-form-letter response to my support request.
  • A solution which allows me to show my commonly-used name, “Skud”, on my posts and comments. As far as my own case is concerned, I’m quite willing to compromise (for instance with Kirrily “Skud” Robert), but I’m not willing to use a name that doesn’t include “Skud” in any way, or that consists of only the name on my government ID, as most of my social circle would not recognise me under those conditions.
  • A clear, unequivocal statement from Google+ management that they understand that many people have names that differ from their government ID, and that those names, if commonly used in daily life, are explicitly permitted on Google+.
  • A consistent, well-documented way for people whose commonly used names don’t match their government ID to provide evidence that those are the names they really are known by (note that this should not be limited to Facebook or other services which implicitly or explicitly require a match with government ID.)
  • Google to develop better ways to handle spam and personal reputation on social networks. They have the smarts and the data for this, and could make a much more meaningful and positive change to the Internet if they were to take it on.

And here are some responses to things a number of people have asked me, just to conveniently put them all in one place:

  • You use Kirrily “Skud” Robert elsewhere, why don’t you just go with that? I’ve tried, they haven’t responded to my email requesting review.
  • You have a Facebook account under Kirrily Robert. Why aren’t you complaining about Facebook? If you’ll look at my Facebook account, you’ll see it’s just a placeholder, which I hardly ever use, in large part because it’s strange to do so under a name that few people know me by. Though I’ve spoken in the past about Facebook’s name policy, I was less insistent about it because they were just one website (albeit a large one) and because their policy was at least clearly stated and apparently consistent.
  • If you don’t like the policy, don’t use G+. If only it were that easy. That’s more or less what I’ve done on Facebook — as I said, I mostly just use it as a placeholder — but I don’t feel like that’ll work so well on Google+. Google+ has tentacles that extend into other services. Even though Google have said that the name policy doesn’t affect anything outside G+ and Profiles (which in itself is a bit disingenuous, as related policies, equally poorly communicated and enforced, do), I’ve seen some effects start to show up in other products. For instance yesterday I got a warning on Google Groups, saying that I had limited functionality because my G+ profile was suspended. Similarly, Jon Pincus points out that use of G+ is already affecting search results, disadvantaging those not using the service. If “everything is social” and Google starts to connect other products with G+, then a wide range of services start to be affected. This is not just “don’t use one website”, it’s “limit your use of a significant number of services”.
  • It’s a field trial, they’ve said they’re working on it, hang in there and it will get better. I have to say I mistrust this. Google has a poor history when it comes to promising “we’ll get to that later”. Furthermore, they’ve already had months and months to figure this out before launch, and chosen not to. If the pressure and advocacy that have been applied so far haven’t been enough to make them prioritise the issue, then I don’t think quietly sitting around and waiting for them to do it is going to get results.
  • Blah blah anonymity blah. Just to be clear, I am not speaking at all about anonymity online, which is a different issue (an interesting one, but one I’m not dealing with right now). I’m talking about long-standing, widely-used, persistent names that have accrued reputation and social capital, but which just happen not to match government ID.
  • Don’t you have anything better to do? Not really, I’m unemployed, and I think this is important.
Fists of Fury

ObMural: "Hearts of Gold, Fists of Fury" in Clarion Alley, in SF's Mission District, ca. 2007. "Everywoman -- her weapon: rising up"

flourish: white lady, green eyes, brown hair (Default)

[personal profile] flourish 2011-07-31 11:41 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm watching this very carefully, as it seems clear to me that the only reason you were suspended and I wasn't - we're in the exact same situation with regard to what kind of names we use - is that I initially set my name as 'Flourish Klink,' not 'Flourish .' or similar. Good luck with all this. I'm really angry about it -- although as you point out, not angry enough to stop using Google+, for reasons obvious related to search results.
zorkian: A picture of Oliver sitting up with his Dreamwidth onesie on! (Default)

[personal profile] zorkian 2011-08-01 12:25 am (UTC)(link)
This whole situation is unfortunate. Google is being rather short-sighted and ridiculous on this whole thing, and I really don't understand why. I can usually understand "business reasons" for things even if I don't agree with them, but this particular one just continues to boggle my mind.
ironed_orchid: pin up girl reading kant (Default)

[personal profile] ironed_orchid 2011-08-01 03:05 am (UTC)(link)
Don’t you have anything better to do? Not really, I’m unemployed, and I think this is important.

You're pretty awesome, y'know.
blithespirit: (Default)

[personal profile] blithespirit 2011-08-01 08:08 am (UTC)(link)
This. :) My eyes welled up when I read that bit. :)
mathuin: Photo of me by Alameda Creek in Fremont, California. (Default)

[personal profile] mathuin 2011-08-01 08:40 pm (UTC)(link)
This is especially frustrating for me to see because they haven't bothered me about it and I'm doing the same thing you're trying to do -- I'm just using a more conventionally accepted nickname, so nobody cares. :-(
damerell: (brains)

[personal profile] damerell 2011-08-04 01:05 pm (UTC)(link)
Apologies if I'm telling you something you know already, but what about legislations where your name is what you say it is? is from the UK CAB and sets out the (not unique) situation here. In the UK, your legal name _is_ "Skud", for all that your bank might need a bit of poking.
k425: (Default)

[personal profile] k425 2011-09-06 01:25 pm (UTC)(link)
You probably don't remember me from afp back in the 90s (Linz/Lindsay Endell) but I remember your name and I really hope you get a proper resolution from Google on this. Your name is Skud. If people (usually online) mention knowing Skud I know it's you. If people mention knowing Kirrily I wonder if it's you.