Tobold's Blog
Thursday, July 08, 2010
 
How to opt out of RealID

RealID is Blizzard's new "social network" feature on Battle.net and games like Starcraft 2 and World of Warcraft. Unfortunately there are some privacy concerns with it, like your real name being displayed on the forums, or addons you installed in WoW able to broadcast your name to other players. Thus you might want to turn it off. Which Blizzard made artificially difficult. As you simply won't find the option to turn RealID off by looking at your account management page on Battle.net, here are the secret instructions on how to opt out of RealID:

The trick is to pretend that you are an responsible adult and your account is played by a child. Thus you need to visit Blizzard's parental control websitem either the US version or the EU version. Assuming you haven't set up parental controls before, you now need to click on "No - Set up Parental Controls Now". Then you have to enter you Battle.net account name and password, plus the e-mail address from which you want to control the account as "parent". If you have an authenticator linked to the account, you'll have to enter that next.

Following this, you will get an e-mail, which you should archive carefully somewhere. It contains the link to the real parental controls. Click on the link. On that site RealID might already be disabled, but if it isn't, uncheck the "Enable RealID" box. Select you timezone in the dropdown box below, optionally request a weekly play time report, and don't forget to click on "Save Settings".

Voila, you have now turned off RealID. Good riddance!
Comments:
I was just looking through the Battle.net site trying to figure out how to do that. Thanks for the info.
 
Oh Tobold not you too! When Gevlon suggested this I passed it off as the ramblings of an idiot. The only way Blizzard will learn is for users (like the 3 living in this house) CANCELLING YOUR ACCOUNTS and sending feedback that way. They allow you comments when you do this and you need to tell them exactly what IS and IS NOT permissible with YOUR information. The fact you need to hack their account management system to feel safe playing WoW is bullshit and needs to end. Hell, as I told them in my feedback, I loved the Diablo series, but one whif of RealID anywhere near D3 and I WILL NOT BUY IT. I couldn't think of a more scorching indictment.
 
Done. If I could show up as Nissl on the forums and to addon hackers, rather than my real name, I would have left RealID on.

I get that Blizzard wants to get in on social networking, but they have to understand that you use Facebook, etc. information on the backend to help people find each other rather than broadcasting it to everyone in a public place.

*If* they showed respect for my privacy I'd be happy to give them my Facebook acct info, and even send blind invites to anyone to anyone on my friends list on Facebook who is also a secret nerd. Voila.

Alas that horse has left the barn.
 
Coming next, Farmville-style updates posted to Facebook any time you login, make a forum post, level up, etc.

You know it's coming.
 
The only way Blizzard will learn is for users (like the 3 living in this house) CANCELLING YOUR ACCOUNTS and sending feedback that way. They allow you comments when you do this and you need to tell them exactly what IS and IS NOT permissible with YOUR information.

Be realistic Kleedrac, boycotts never work. Didn't you see the famous screenshot of the "Boycott Modern Warfare 2" user group on Steam, most of which were shown playing Modern Warfare 2 a few days after release? Very, very, few players feel strongly enough about RealID to actually want to miss out on Cataclysm because of it.

What you can do, optionally and in addition to turning RealID off, is doing a fake cancelation. When you cancel your account, it remains active for the period you already paid for. So you cancel your account, giving RealID as the reason, but reactivate it in a few weeks, before the subscription actually runs out. Or you cancel your account during summer and enjoy the sun instead, and reactivate for Cataclysm.
 
I think you misunderstand me Tobold. As much as all 3 of us (especially one roomie) will miss WoW, we've all made the decision our privacy is more important to us. Would I like to see RealID repealed and be able to come back for Cataclysm? Would I like to see RealID die before Diablo 3 is released? Of course I would. But when I say this I mean this, if it's still around I'm not coming back to WoW and I'm not buying Diablo 3 (though of course with d3 piracy is always an option ;) ) Can you stage a boycott? Maybe, I doubt you'd have an affect on a company as big as Blizzard once they've made up their minds. But to me, personally, and both my roommates, our privacy is more important and that's that!
 
Is this really all that useful though? From what I understand, this will simply disable your ability to use anything Real ID related - so it's not wrong, but it's not really much different then simply chosing not to make Real ID friends and not to post on the new forums once the forum change has been implemented.
 
"Is this really all that useful though?"

Well they're bound to tack it on to something else too so best to disable it for your account before you discover your real name being broadcast when you join a guild or whatever they think of next.

Don't forget there was the issue with addons being able to extract it. So someone could write a useful addon like a decurser and add scripts to take your RealID and send it to a marketing database without you ever realising it was happening.
 
I had done this before they announced RealID for the forums. It is possible to access the parental controls even with a frozen WoW account.

I can't change my name, though, but I can change my address.

I also can't delete my old forum posts, but since I found out they won't be carrying over to the new forums, and therefore won't display the RealID, then I have no reason to sign back up, just to delete them.

What Tobold is saying here is true, and in the comments, I'd say is the best suggestion for those who will keep playing but want to make a point. Cancelling WoW for a few months with the reason being RealID, might not only do everyone some good, but it might also send a message that would change how they are using RealID for forums.
 
If you want to make a clear point that cannot be misinterpreted, I suggest you disable RealID and don't post on the forums in the future.

Quitting the game can be misinterpreted. Just canceling your sub won't be effective, as other people (like myself) have done that for years.

1) Buy one month
2) Cancel the month.

Why should I risk to pay for one or two days that I don't play WoW? The reduction for 3 months or half a year is way to low for WoW to make sense.

I've left a comment about what I don't like about WoW whenever I canceled, but I am pretty sure they filter me out ;)
 
Tobold, you don't seem to understand the scale of this. In fact, most WoW commentators still aren't looking at the big picture.

Last quarter, due to a similar privacy compromising system implemented on facebook (for which they are being sued), they lost 2.5 million users in their core demographic. For a subscriber base of 300 million, that may seem like small change, but their core demo (18 - 32 year olds) is critical, and it is the same as Blizzard's.

The thing about that demo is that they are staunchly concerned about privacy, and are acutely aware of a world in which google can cost you a job, or get you turned down for an apartment, or destroy a relationship.

This isn't a WoW-killer, it's a substantial threat to their revenue stream for all future products implementing this system, and drives much of their tech savvy user base to piracy and private servers.
 
Mmm, more FUD.

@Stabs - "So someone could write a useful addon like a decurser and add scripts to take your RealID and send it to a marketing database without you ever realising it was happening."

1. How long before someone looks at the openly availaible code and finds it suspicious? I'm guessing hours. Few, at most.

2. WoW addons can't send anything anywhere outside of WoW. They can only transmit it to another player on the same server (and faction I think). This adds a significant amount of work to retrieve this data.

3. Why would I download a "decurser" of some kind? I a) already use Grid/Decursive/Vuhdo; b) don't even know what an addon is; c) my warrior can't decurse things if it's life depended on it.

4) I expect that addon issue solved quite fast.

@disabling RealID.

Em. What's the point? This does two things - first is that it disables the RealID ingame functionality, which I'm using to talk with my friends (like, real ones) when I'm on an off-server alt.

Second is not even here right now, as it is supposed to disallow you from posting (at all) on the new and awesome forums, so you don't accidentally leave your name on it.

I guess if you're not using the ingame thing, it's okay. Otherwise, it's just pointless.

Oh, and it stops you from a theoretical mysterious, nefarious addon hacker. Hmm.
 
@Saithir: You can't just wipe away people's justified privacy concerns as "FUD". I bet "Saithir" is not the name that is printed on your passport. If you think using an alias and not revealing your real name is dishonest, then why do you use an alias yourself?

Stabs has excellent write-up with lots of well-documented examples of what can happen to you if people know your name.

Opting out of RealID makes a lot of sense, because A) nobody reads the lines of codes of the addons he installs, so you could well be at risk of installing an addon which makes your RealID visible in game. B) Accounts get hacked every day, so if your friend gets hacked the hacker has access to your real name and Battle.net account ID too. And C) Blizzard changes the scope of RealID all the time. First it was just in-game, now it's forums, tomorrow your RealID might well be displayed on the Armory.
 
Nice guide.

But from what I've understood opting out of RealID doesn't matter when posting on the forums?
 
Thanks Tobold, done. It will be interesting to see how much time I spend playing each week compared to how much time I think I spend.

One lesson this has made me relearn is to never use my real name when asked for my "real name" when signing up for game accounts/forums etc. This was something I never did years ago but I guess I've just got too complacent lately.
 
@Tobold - I appear as Saithir, because that's the handle I chose for my MMO activities, and especially for the WoW ones. If I comment on some raid stuff, or gear stuff (which I do), one can look up my armory and see that I've indeed done it and I'm not just imagining things up. If I were to comment as Marcin R. from Poland, well, that says exactly nothing relevant to WoW about me.

BTW, you appear to me as Tobold. How does that look on your passport? :P

I have nothing against privacy concerns, so please do not put in my mouth things I haven't said. I have lots against FUD, though.

"A) nobody reads the lines of codes of the addons he installs"

With millions of players and thousands of addon users, are you really sure of that? Just an example - when I was writing my own addon to help me manage raid invites, I've read through the code of several other ones to learn how things are done.

Sure, the average Joe probably won't. But I can bet that some addon developer will and will share the news of the suspicious bits.

But you don't even have to read through it, a simple text search for "BNIsSelf" - the broken function - will do. Are you safe from the evil addons? I know I am.

"Accounts get hacked every day, so if your friend gets hacked the hacker has access to your real name and Battle.net account ID too."

Real name, okay, he will. Account ID? No, he will not have access to anything like that - because the ingame friends list doesn't store or display it anywhere. You just can't learn account ID's of people you have on your friends list.

Now, it doesn't make it much safer, but it also is a nice example of the FUD.

"Blizzard changes the scope of RealID all the time. First it was just in-game, now it's forums, tomorrow your RealID might well be displayed on the Armory."

And in a month I will have to finally make a Facebook account to play, as it will replace Battle.net on the login screen. See, I can make stuff up as well.

I get that you don't like the forums deal, I don't like it that much either (as I'd prefer a single, permament nickname there), but please keep it real.
 
If you still want to use Real ID and just want to block addons from leaking your info, there is a bug-fixing addon by respected addon authors at wowace.com that does exactly that.

http://www.wowace.com/addons/blizzbugssuck/
 
Isn't it the case that doing that will (in the future) prevent posting to the forums at all? If I can't post to the forums, then opting out of realId means opting out of the forums. And that's just not cool.
 
It is pretty sad that it has come to this.
 
Tobold - have you tested this against the script that demonstrates addons have access to your real name? Is that no longer the case once you've enabled parental controls?
 
@lisa c. - Awesome, didn't know of that. And it even shows you the name of the addon that tried to execute this function, so you can get rid of it easily.
 
People need to relax. This RealID thing is not dangerous. I used to work in the credit card departement of a bank and we had to learn about identity theft. Mail is the most dangerous thing for your identity. Is somebody wants to steal your identity they usually will steal some of your mail from your mail-box, or they will pay the mailman for some of your mail. So this real ID thing isn't more dangerous than normal mail!
 
Hi Marcin,

Do you have a My Opera account?
Are you a software developer?

If yes, you might want to rethink your position or protect yourself better...

On the other hand google my handle...
 
@Wyrm - the cons of unique names and nicknames, hah. But the only guy marked as a software developer on My Opera is not actually me. Nice try, though. :)

I'm not terribly afraid that you'll find my name, and I know it's not hard.

There's no need to try to scare me ;P
 
From Blizzard's own Privacy Policy: "We feel under a particular obligation to protect information obtained from young children. We would strongly urge parents to instruct their children never to disclose their real name, their address or their telephone number while they are on-line without prior permission."

So they want to protect young children, but don't give a toss about the privacy of their adult customers?
 
It's actually a pretty simple issue. If you really think that Blizzard is trying to compromise your privacy than the only right thing to do is cancel your subscription completely and never resubscribe.

However, if you are simply concerned about the 'annoyance' this could present then the parental control thing is a perfectly fine workaround.

I am actually more 'insulted' by the fact that the option to disable RealID is not actually on the account management page and you have to go through stupid stuff like Parental Controls to access it. That's just underhanded UI design.
 
Daergel said:

"So they want to protect young children, but don't give a toss about the privacy of their adult customers?"

They are adults. It is supposed to be their responsibility to care about their own privacy. Children are supposed to be cuddled and protected against themselves.

Ultimately this is still a 'opt-in' system so if an adult wants to use it, it is their own free will.
 
"One lesson this has made me relearn is to never use my real name when asked for my "real name" when signing up for game accounts/forums etc. This was something I never did years ago but I guess I've just got too complacent lately."

Funny you mention this. I used to never use my real name either, but also got lazy I guess.

Now I just realize I have nothing of value attached to my name on the net, and no fear of it being found out whatsoever. I don't use Facebook or any silly things like that at all.

I think you guys are sounding overly paranoid, to be honest.

And a few of you are wrong, the 18-35 demographic is definately *COMPLETELY ok with no privacy*. In fact this is probably the most anti-private generation ever. (i.e. Facebook)
 
I fall *slightly* outside of the 18-35 demographic, however I have a facebook page and I use it pretty regularly, but I don't necessarily want to broadcast to the world what I do in my spare time, which is why my profile is blocked until you become my friend.

I have been the butt of people's jokes at my previous work because I mentioned that I play WoW, so will be careful in future not to mention it (watching crap tv doesn't weird people out as much as spending your time playing games instead).

I also have an unusual name and it is far too easy to track me down as a result.

If my name was John Smith I wouldn't give a toss
 
Mmm, more FUD.

Ah... hasty generalizations as a rational for dismissing other people's arguments. Classic.

It's hard to argue with FUD. It's been a staple of internet and political arguments for years.

But let me provide you with some equally sage advice..

Just because you are paranoid, it doesn't mean they aren't out to get you.

Giving up your freedom of privacy for the sake of progress is simply a horrible idea at every level.

How many commenters here are using their real first and last name? How about you Saithir? Feel free to share?
 
J. Dangerous said, "the 18-35 demographic is definately *COMPLETELY ok with no privacy*. In fact this is probably the most anti-private generation ever. (i.e. Facebook)."

Oh, god, yes. A thousand times, yes. But forget Facebook, just look at Girls Gone Wild, the average Spring Break, or just trawl the web for 10 minutes and you'll run across numerous videos of girls, your common, average, everyday 'girls next door' (no, not those ones) egged on by friends or someone with a few dollars doing the most outrageous explicit things, all in public in the full view of many others.

No, they're not all staged.

I was out with my cousin one New Years Eve and we saw more breasts than our teenage minds (18-19 y/old) could comprehend, all willingly flashed at us, all for no more reason than a few seconds of "Come on! Show us your tits! Aw, come on. It's New Years Eve!" That was 20 years ago.

Nowadays you'll see a whole lot more than just a pair of boobs, so it's hardly surprising that this generation not only has no problem with things like RealID, but laughs at those who do.
 
Good info to have. Thanks Tobold. I think Blizzard should make it a lot easier to opt out of RealID than they have it set-up now. I don't think RealID is as bad as people say it is, but there should be an easy opt out.
 
@sid67 - if you'd actually read what I wrote - rather than read the first line and skip over the rest, like you apparently did - the only things I'm dismissing are some impressive imaginations about evil hackers with evil addons, just waiting in the dark alleys of Azeroth to get our names from thin air. Oh, and our Bnet account ID's, also.

The fact that I don't like scary and mostly untrue crap like that, does not necessarily mean I'm dismissing the whole thing. Someone was talking about generalizations somewhere here. I wonder who that was.

And about my name, I think I already replied about why I'm here as Saithir.
 
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