I got two words for you: Will Shetterly.
Yes, yes, yes, I know, using his full name will bring him down on this blog faster than saying Beetlejuice three times. If he shows up, ignore him. The larger point I’m trying to make is this:
Will Shetterly behaves abominably on the Internet and has been doing so for some time. He harasses people; he shows up where he’s not wanted and, in some cases, has been explicitly banned; he engages in stalker-like behavior; he’s just a big ass. However, he does this all under his real, parental-given, legal name. He is not ashamed of his actions. In fact, he is quite proud of himself.
If I were to list all the shenanigans Will has got up to over the few years I’ve known of him, some might assume that he was a troll hiding behind a name like ClassWarrior22 or whatever. But no.
While it is true that the Internet does cause many people to act in ways that they might not in meatspace, the whole pseudonym/handle/nickname thing is not the cause of these actions and does not indicate a higher instance of them. Mostly because any name can be a pseudonym or even just fake and not meant to indicate a unified identity. I could go by the name Joanna Smith on any number of blogs, say all kinds of shit, harass all kinds of people, and totally “get away with it” because that’s not my name.
Going by names alone, legal or otherwise, is not a sound method for cracking down on “fake” identities on the web. It’s just not. And if you work for a ginormous Internet corporation of doom such as Google and you don’t understand that, how the hell am I supposed to trust you with any of my online identities?
Google needs to get their damn act together on this. Like, right now.