Is Google+ is being lynched by out-spoken users upset by real names policy?

Following my post yesterday Google+ says your name is “Toby” not “Kunta Kinte”, I chronicled tweets from this morning’s back and forth with  Tim O’Reilly and Kevin MarksNishant  KaushikPhil Hunt,  Steve Bogart and Suw Charman-Anderson.

I wrote the original post after watching the Bradley Horwitz (@elatable) – Tim O’Reilly (@timoreilly) interview re: Google+. I found Tim’s choice of words about the tone (strident) and judgement (self-righteous) towards those standing up for their freedom to choose their own names on the new social network being rolled out by Google internet’s predominant search engine disappointing.  His response to my post was to call me self-righteous and reiterate that this was just a market issue.

I myself have been the victim of a Google+ suspension since July 31st and yesterday I applied for a mononym profile (which is what it was before they insisted I fill out my last name which I chose to do so with my online handle and real life identity “Identity Woman”) 

In the thread this morning Tim said that the kind of pressure being aimed at Google is way worse then anything they are doing and that in fact Google was the subject of a “lynch mob” by these same people.  Sigh, I guess Tim hasn’t read much history but I have included some quotes form and links to wikipedia for additional historial context.

Update: inspired in part by this post an amazing post “about tone” as a silencing/ignoring tactics when difficult, uncomfortable challenges are raised in situations of privilege was written by Shiela Marie.  

I think there is a need for greater understanding all around and that perhaps blogging and tweeting isn’t really the best way to address it.  I know that in the identity community when we first formed once we started meeting one another in person and really having deep dialogues in analogue form that deeper understanding emerged.  IIW the place we have been gathering for 6 years and talking about the identity issues of the internet and other digital systems is coming up in mid-October and all are welcome.  The agenda is created live the day of the event and all topics are welcome.

Here’s the thread… (oldest tweets first)

 Note all the images of tweets in this thread are linked to the actual tweet (unless they erased the tweet). 

Steve, thanks for highlighting the bizarre choice to use a “lynch mob” as the metaphor to describe what is happening to Google around this issue.

From Wikipedia: Lynching is an extrajudicial execution carried out by a mob, often by hanging, but also by burning at the stake or shooting, in order to punish an alleged transgressor, or to intimidate, control, or otherwise manipulate a population of people…. Lynchings have been more frequent in times of social and economic tension, and have often been means used by the politically dominant population to oppress social challengers. 

The article on Lynch Mobs is part of the Discrimination set of articles in Wikipedia. Within sociology, ‘discrimination’ is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on their membership in a certain group or category. Discrimination is the actual behavior towards members of another group. It involves excluding or restricting members of one group from opportunities that are available to other groups. An individual need not be actually harmed in order to be discriminated against. He or she just needs to be treated worse than others for some arbitrary reason.


From the Wikipedia article on Oppression: Indirect oppression is oppression that is effected by psychological attack, situational constraints or other indirect means. It has been a popular tactic practiced in single power, power monopoly or other authoritarian or totalitarian regimes.

The point I was making with my previous post Google+ says your name is “Toby” not “Kunta Kinte” is that Google is being discriminatory and oppressive towards people who refuse to use their “wallet names” and who choose to go by pseudonyms.  Which party in this situation is really acting like a lynch mob?

As I said in my previous post the tone of those who are suffering at the hands of this policy implemented by THE dominant search utility on the web are loud, shrill, piercing, high-pitched and rough sounding and I imagine are heard by those within Google who are receiving them as grating and obnoxious. Rather then empathizing with human pain and suffering that is reflected in the tone, Tim and others are just dismissing them and their concerns.  Here is one of the clearest posts by someone very affected by what Google is doing: To those who say they “don’t get it”…(Google, G+, etc) 



Really? Google+ is effectively lynching, that is killing the digital persona’s of people who’s names don’t conform to its policies. So what is not extreme about that? is there a middle ground when you feel your digital life is threatened? Of course the reaction of people has some edge to it because people feel that the digital identifier that is the anchor for their “digital body” could be terminated and thus puts their digital lives are at risk.  They are being a bit shrill when the talk about the issues because they are deeply personal and have real impact on their lives because it impacts their ability, their freedom to communicate.




To close, Doc Searls has a great post up about what this might all really be about Circling Around your Wallet.

  Note all the images of tweets in this thread are linked to the actual tweet (unless they erased the tweet). 


  1. says

    The pejorative “Lynch Mob” description is a red herring because Google+ is the aggressor.

    However when G+ refuses to enter into dialogue, and appeals aren’t possible, and justice is reserved for rich people who can afford expensive lawyers, lynching can be valid.

    We must protect freedom and democracy. If a corrupt social system fails us we must then take action via lawful protest: free speech. In a previous blog-post I described the G+ user-name policy as “Digital Genocide” because G+ is killing virtual identities. A virtual lynching of Google is therefore a valid response, it is self defence to lynch Google+.

    We are legally entitled to virtually lynch Google+, this is a right protected by democracy and freedom. Our free-speech is protected by law therefore I say: YES, THE PEN IS MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD, and with our words we can virtually lynch Google+.

    Google+ has shown no valid attempts to modify its totally unacceptable behavior. Google+ is acting in an autocratic, dictatorial, fascist manner therefore it is clear we must put an end to Google+. We must campaign for nothing less than the virtual death of Google+ because via killing Google+ we will send the strongest message to any other businesses who want to consider trampling over our freedoms. Our message to Google+ and other similar ventures is that anti-freedom businesses cannot be allowed to continue.

    Let’s virtually lynch Google+. NO MERCY! This is what the NymWars are all about. This is a WAR and Google+ must be defeated.

    Disclaimer: I only advocate legal protest via incisive logical expositions. Words are far more powerful than actual violence or destruction. I vigorously condemn actual violence or destruction. My warlike aggressive terminology is a literary device intending to evoke strong emotions within cyberspace (virtual reality). It would be a severe misunderstanding of my words if people assume I advocate actual violence or destruction. My words are emotive, but it would be gross misconstruction of my intentions if people assumed I wish to incite illegal behaviour. Intelligence is the way forward therefore amidst my righteous anger my message is clearly one of law abiding peacefulness. Anti-freedom ventures such as Google+ are a serious threat to our peace of mind, therefore via the legal expression of our powerful minds we can destroy Google+ thereby restoring freedom and peace to cyberspace. We must fight for freedom. DEATH TO GOOGLE+

  2. My Name Is... says

    Perhaps Google is being heavy-handed, but surely the intent is clear and it’s not sinister or malicious in any way. The bottom-line is, it’s a private company offering a service, if you don’t like it, don’t participate. No private individual or business has an obligation to cater to you. It’s their ball, their rules. I think society will survive Google’s real names policy.

    And drawing a parallel between your beef with Google and the atrocity of slavery is…well, very uncool. I have some suggested reading for you. This real names policy is not an important issue. At all.


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