Google Forbids Online Anonymity…While Patenting It

Recently Google stated the importance of using your real (common) name so that people you want to connect with can find you. Google goes on to say that using a secondary online identity or pseudonym on its Google+ service can result in your profile in being suspended if it does not adhere to the Google Names Policy.

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At the same time, Google has been awarded a new patent called Social Computing Personas for Protecting Identity in Online Social Interactions.

In the patent application, Google explains to the USPTO (US Patent Office) that when a user reveals their identity on the internet that it, that “it leaves them more vulnerable to stalking, identity theft and harassment.” Google’s patented solution is to provide online anonymity to social networking users using an alter ego, or anonymous identity.

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One can only speculate why one hand of Google is warning about the folly and penalties for not following their Names Policy, while the other hand of Google says that users are at risk if they do not protect their identity with an anonymous identity.

Has Google change its official stance regarding online anonymity? Is this a case where one hand of Google doesn’t know what the other is doing? Or is Google just avoiding putting all its eggs into one basket? And what about Mary-Lou?

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