Diaspora* stakes out nym turf

I contributed some money to Diaspora*s Kickstarter effort, and have a foothold on that site (although I haven’t checked it in a while)…so I was happy to get a note today from them talking about many of the features they’ve added and plan to add.

I really thought Google+ was going to pull the rug out from under them, but thanks to the Nym Wars, Diaspora’s been able to differentiate their platform:

You can express yourself candidly, and be your authentic self. You can go by whatever name you like on Diaspora*. Pseudonyms are fine, and this both protects you (if you want to say something your boss or your parents disagree with) and opens the door to real connection.

And because your information is yours, not ours, you’ll have the ultimate power — the ability to move your profile and all your social data from one pod to another, without sacrificing your connection to the social web. Over time, this will bring an end to the indifferent, self-serving behavior that people can’t stand[3] from the walled gardens that dominate social networking today. When you can vote with your feet for the environment where you feel safest, the big guys will have to shape up, or risk losing you.

You go, guys!

If you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product being sold.

There’s a reason Google is all about true names:

Who are our customers? Our customers are over one million advertisers, from small businesses targeting local customers to many of the world’s largest global enterprises, who use Google AdWords to reach millions of users around the world.

ThomasMonopoly writes an excellent summary at FSM.

Social media could render covert policing ‘impossible’

The generalized government demand for fully transparent identity turns out to have a downside for government officials (other than outing their gay hookups and sexting)

(via TechWorld)

Not even police officers can hide due to online information and use of biometrics, says ex-AFP commissioner

Facebook has proven to be one of the biggest dangers in keeping undercover police officers safe due to applications such as facial recognition and photo tagging, according to a adjunct professor at ANU and Charles Sturt University.

Mick Keelty, a former Australian Federal Police (AFP) commissioner, told the audience at Security 2011 in Sydney that because of the convergence of a number of technologies including biometrics, undercover policing may be “impossible” in the future.

He explained that were safety risks associated with undercover policing if people could be identified online.

“You can’t just immerse an officer into a crime group; it takes up to seven years to get them into the right place [in the gang] where they can feed back the intelligence that you need,” Keelty said.

“Than there is the cost of doing that such as when the AFP targets motorcycle gangs or when governments across the world have entered into agreements to place critical witnesses in prosecution matters in different parts of the world to hide them.”

Keelty is currently undertaking research into the policy implications of social networking for covert operations by police and security agencies.

He shared findings from a social networking survey conducted with the NSW Police, the AFP and other security agencies from December 2010 to February 2011.

“We surveyed them to try and measure the extent of exposure they already had in having their photos uploaded to the internet,” he said.

“The results found that 90 per cent of female officers were using social media compared with 81 per cent of males.”

The most popular site was Facebook, followed by Twitter. Forty seven per cent of those surveyed used social networking sites daily while another 24 per cent used them weekly. All respondents aged 26 years or younger had uploaded photos of themselves onto the internet.

“The thinking we had with this result means that the 16-year-olds of today who might become officers in the future have already been exposed.

“It’s too late [for them to take it down] because once it’s uploaded, it’s there forever.”

Of the people surveyed, 85 per cent had their photos uploaded on to the internet by another person.

Keelty said that until recently this has been a real problem because Facebook refused to remove photographs, but because of competition from Google+ it had started to remove photos at people’s request.

Alarmingly, 42 percent of respondents said it would be possible to identify their relationship with other people, including family and friends.

“If you have someone in the service who is trying to remain anonymous for whatever reason, it is still possible through other relationships to find them,” Keelty said.

The results of the survey would be used to inform future policy guidelines within both state and federal police agencies.

Persistent identities

Ryan Estrada made this image and shared it on Google+.

Just like in real life
Just like in real life

Kee Hinckley commented: “The irony of hating obviously fake names (which is basically what Google’s policy is attempting to police) is that you are encouraging people to lie about who they are, and encouraging them to create throwaway accounts instead of having a persistent identity with a reputation that they care about.”

So true.

If someone is created a brand for himself, why should anyone, person or company, care if that brand “sounds realistic” or not?  I mean, Mark Twain?  That’s like calling yourself Dow Jones…just because we’re used to thinking of it as a name today doesn’t make it “realistic.”

I note that Google+ seems to be OK with Lady Gaga going by Lady Gaga.  Presumably they’d be OK with Christopher George Latore Wallace going by The Notorious B.I.G. (although if someone’s posting as him today, there’s another issue with veracity).  So if everyone knows me as Raq Winchester, even if that’s not on my photo ID, we should be cool, yeah?

There are cultural issues, also. I had to be “officially male” in Malaysia once (long story, women can’t pay taxes or sign for rebates), and the guy said “It’s not like anyone will know – I mean “Rachel” could totally be a guy’s name.”