Everyone Missed the Point

How sad. How many dozens (hundreds?) of blog posts on Blizzard’s RealID bull. All of them screaming and crying and raging.

Ladies and gents, let me share something with you that you should have learned along time ago. The real danger of the internet is not that somebody might learn your name. Because, chances are, they alredy have.

The real danger of the internet is that no matter how many posts, blogs, or websites you put your name on, it is virtually (har-har) impossible to prove that you are who you say you are.

And since I strive to go a step further around here, I’ll give you the consequence of that, which is, if possible, even scarier: because of that, we will eventually stop requiring people to prove that they are who they say they are.

This, by the way, is already coming true, if you’ve peeked recently at any of the lawsuits surrounding music and media downloads. Courts can and have issued guilty convictions, huge (5, 7, and 7 digit) fines, and even jail time to defendents -without ever proving that they were the ones sitting at the keyboard actually breaking the law. As far as the courts are concerned, if your name was on the account used illegally, you are responsible.

Does any of this mean I agree with Blizzard (or Facebook for that matter) trying to force the RealID issue? No. But, please believe me when I say that the nightmares surrounding internet anonymity and identity that keep me up at night are far scarier than Blizzard putting a name on my forum posts.

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6 thoughts on “Everyone Missed the Point

    1. Guess what Dirk? Your name already appears in a centralized location for scammers to mine data. In fact, lots of them. There is nothing you can do about it, except QQ the internet.

  1. I made something like this point in an interchange with Arkenor on Twitter. There is a good chance that the people in danger from an “online reputation” standpoint are those with common names, much more than those with unique names. If my name is the same as or similar to some troll, then I may end up with a damaged reputation, or worse. The danger increases the more common your name is.

    Here’s a link that illustrates my point. http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100710/ap_on_re_us/us_border_wrong_person
    This woman has been repeatedly stopped by U.S. Border authorities because her name is similar to a criminal suspect. My own brother lost out on a job opportunity because the employer ran a background check on the wrong person, someone who had only my brother’s first and surname in common.

    1. Rowan,

      My brother had a similar experience in trying to get a job, but fortunately had a personal relationship with someone in the company who was able to vouch for him. The problem and the danger persists for all of us though, even if your name is uncommon. All it takes is a slipped Social Security digit…

  2. It’s not the base issue so much as the coupling of BlizActivision, social media (or whatever the hell that stuff is called), and forcing it down people’s throats when people really just want to play a game.

    There *are* a bunch of much deeper privacy, courtesy, behaviour and legal issues going on but that’s true of any number of initiatives and, as you say, privacy isn’t really that strong these days anyway. All the same I deeply object to having a company tell me that “in the name of accountability on the forums” they’re going to make my stuff even *more* minable. The hypocrisy is part of what bothered me. The removal of escapism on what is utterly, totally and primarily an escapist pastime is another part.

    If Blizzard or Activision think what we really want is to facebook while avatared as a NElf then they’re sadly mistaken, at least where I’m concerned. There’s a good “internet dragons” post floating around I can probably find a link to that’s illustrative of this point of view. (I think I first saw it on Broken Toys in the last couple of days.)

    I — for one, anyway — am not claiming BliActi are breaking new ground in privacy invasion here. But just because it already happens doesn’t mean I have to stand for it in a context where a) it’s not essential, b) it won’t actually do a whole lot of good anyway, as far as the stated purpose goes (forum accountability) and c) it’s a blind for something completely different.

    Forum accountability comes from, among other things: clear and ENFORCED rules from day 1, done by a moderating/community staff that is high enough in number and well enough motivated to actually do a good — and consistent — job. Forum self-policing is all very well but not much help if you can’t actually ban or silence someone who needs it. Having people’s real names there isn’t really going to make much, if any, difference without anything else to support it.

    And, as has been seen more and more in the industry in the last few years, if anything community people are being ignored or phased out, right when they’re needed most. But that’s a whole nother kettle of fish, anyway.

    1. There’s alot of good stuff to chew on there Ysh, and for the most part I agree with what you’ve said. But Blizzard is not invading anyone’s privacy so much as they are claiming to be able to identify you personally on teh interwebz. And my argument is that that is a much more outrageous claim to be making and, quite honestly, everyone seems to have bought into that lie. People got mad, as they should have, but for the wrong reason entirely.

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