Chris Welch, The Verge:
Thus far Google has gently pushed users to display their real name on Google and the company’s other services, but it hasn’t backed away from traditional usernames / pseudonyms, either. Cerf thinks that’s the right approach. “Using real names is useful,” he said in a recent interview with Reuters. “But I don’t think it should be forced on people, and I don’t think we do.”
I don’t agree that Google’s push for real names has been gentle. It’s more that they’ve turned it down from “relentless hounding” to “recurring nag.” While real names are more useful to advertisers, I doubt that’s really what Google’s drive is—as far as I know they don’t share personally-identifiable information with advertisers. Instead, I suspect it’s because users tend toward better behavior when they’re not anonymous.
Many people—including Cerf here—have pointed out that there are, however, good reasons to keep some online identities separate from real life ones. I’m still concerned, though, that providers might appoint themselves arbiters of whether a given reason is good enough: it’s okay if you’re worried about reprisal from an abusive former lover, but if you just don’t want your real name to show up in association with salacious fan fiction you’ve written, tough bananas. Also, when it comes to YouTube—which Google has started to get really pushy about trying to associate with my real name—I understand they’re likely trying to clean up the legendary cesspool that forms YouTube’s comments, but it’s way too late, guys.