Saturday, July 30, 2011

0 Admin: PSA To All Camp Other Google Account Users And Readers

A message from Camp Other to readers:

Keep your eyes on Google and how they treat your accounts - especially if you have and use a pseudonym online connected with Google+ accounts.


"When it comes to Google services, we support three types of use: unidentified, pseudonymous and identified. And each mode has its own particular user benefits.

Unidentified. Sometimes you want to use the web without having your online activity tied to your identity, or even a pseudonym—for example, when you’re researching a medical condition or searching for that perfect gift for a special someone. When you’re not logged into your Google Account (or if you never signed up for one), that’s how you’ll be using our services. While we need to keep information like IP addresses and cookies to provide the service, we don’t link that information to an individual account when you are logged out.

Pseudonymous. Using a pseudonym has been one of the great benefits of the Internet, because it has enabled people to express themselves freely—they may be in physical danger, looking for help, or have a condition they don’t want people to know about. People in these circumstances may need a consistent identity, but one that is not linked to their offline self. You can use pseudonyms to upload videos in YouTube or post to Blogger.

Identified. There are many times you want to share information with people and have them know who you really are. Some products such as Google Checkout rely on this type of identity assurance and require that you identify yourself to use the service. There may be other times when it’s more desirable to be identified than not, for example if you want to be part of a community action project you may ask, “How do I know these other people I see online really are community members?”

Well, this all sounded like a reasonable division to me, and that's worked fine for me for ages.


But during the past month, Google apparently began shutting people's Google accounts down across the board without warning - because users were using pseudonyms.

I only learned about this within the past 24 hours (I guess I've been too buried in research about antigenic variation and serology to notice the news lately) and was disturbed to hear about what happened to GrrlScientist and her accounts.

Apparently a lot of people's accounts were suspended without prior notice, and outrage over this spread across the blogosphere. Search online for "privacy, pseudonyms, and google accounts" and you are likely to find more information on this action from more than one web site.

At any rate, looking at the stream of events unfolding, I've had to wonder if Camp Other blog would be next. If so, I'll be posting an announcement on Lymenet Europe letting people know where the site would be getting moved - somewhere without a policy that discriminates against anonymity - and pseudonyms in particular.


But, it may be that my search for an ISP to host my blog would be premature, as I just came across an announcement from Bradley Horowitz on Google+ that came from a discussion between Robert Scoble of Rackspace and Vic Gundotra, Senior VP of Social at Google - the most important snippet posted below:

MYTH: Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.

When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won't be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you'll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on. (Of course there are other Google-wide policies (e.g. egregious spamming, illegal activity, etc) that do apply to all Google products, and violations of these policies could in fact lead to a Google-wide suspension.)

Camp Other doesn't use Google+ in the first place, so I am making the assumption based on the above that my blog will continue to operate on Blogger as it has been.

If something changes... well, you know where to find me. And if Lymenet Europe for some reason goes down, I'll post to CanLyme, and so on - to other Lyme disease related forums which have not unceremoniously banned me.


PS: Just in case you wondered, I make a regular backup of all the site entries. Reformatting the content and moving to another web site host may not be a trivial matter, though, so I don't want to do it unless there's a very compelling reason.


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