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Swizec Teller - a geek with a hatswizec.com

Online, real names provide anonymity

There are 845 million active users on facebook.

Early virtual world: Ultima Online
Early virtual world: Ultima Online

There are 500 million twitter accounts.

There are 100 million users on Google+.

Of all those people only one is Swizec.

Three other profiles do show up when searching for "Swizec", but they don't have the account name registered. Nor the domain name.

In Slovenia, there are 2 million people. Out of them 4121 people share my real first name, my surname, 298. The combination happens to be unique ... for now.

There are 7 billion people in the world.

Less than half of those are currently online - the figure is rapidly changing in favor of the whole world being connected. When all those people come online, what do you think will provide better anonymity? Real names or nicknames?

Even today, if you want to be anonymous online, just use your real name.

A real name might not hide you from your friends, neither would a nickname, but you will be damn well hidden from a cursory inspection by a potential employer or whomever might want to find those drunken pictures from last night. Googling facebook fired throws out lots of interesting results ...

Nicknames are real

Me, I have nowhere to hide. My nickname is the same everywhere.

Map of the United States showing the state nic...

People have used nicknames since forever. It creates a friendly atmosphere, it's a sign of trust, of not being strangers. A police officer calls you by your name, a friend calls you by something personal. Perhaps a name that grows and evolves as you do - a concept native americans were very familiar with according to all those novels I read as a kid.

But the latest trend in online identities is Real Names (tm). Because nicknames are somehow ... bad. Even Twitter, the last bastion of proper nicknames, has bowed to pressure and started exposing Real Names as the primary identifier both on twitter.com and its mobile apps.

Why?

Perhaps a ploy to tie "real world" identities to their "online" counterparts in a desperate attempt to sell you ever more crap. Or maybe it's got something to do with the occult idea that there is power in real names, that calling someone by their real name compels them to do what you want.

Remember Rumpelstiltkin?

Whatever it is, it's annoying ... sooner or later the online world will become as anonymous as its physical counterpart and it will no longer be possible to waltz into a social network and for someone to go "Heeey, you're Swizec! Oh man, I remember you from X, how are ya old bastard?"

I'm going to miss that.

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Published on April 3rd, 2012 in Facebook, Google, Online and offline, Online Communities, Slovenia, Social network, Twitter, Uncategorized

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