Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
 
Verified identities on Twitter?

Being signed up to various sites on the internet, I regularly get mails of the type "our Terms of Service have changed". Like everybody else on the internet I never read any ToS in the first place, so those mails are usually ignored. But today I got a mail from Twitter announcing changes to their Terms of Service and Privacy policy where I wondered whether there was something bigger behind it. The announced purpose of the changes is "to reflect new features we're testing (starting in the U.S.) to allow you to buy merchandise from some of the most popular names on Twitter, without leaving the Twitter experience". And the first of the changes is that "we may request additional account information to help us prevent spam, fraud or abuse".

That might be nothing. Or it might be a move towards verified identities on Twitter. In the recent culture wars there was talk about lots of fake Twitter accounts being created to give one person multiple voices and make a movement appear bigger than it is, because bigger movements then attract more followers. I don't know in how far Twitter would be worried about that. But if those fake accounts start buying merchandise with the new Twitter features, they sure would have a problem very quickly. It would not be unreasonable for a service where your account is able to buy stuff to require you proving your identity. And that would be a huge change to the way that Twitter operates today.

I am a bit torn here. On the one side I very much hated Facebook deleting my "Tobold" account due to that not being the name printed in my passport. On the other side I believe in John Gabriel's G.I.F.T. theory of online disinhibition. I would have no problem at all with a site where to the public I could be "Tobold", but the company running the site would have my verified identity, as long as that identity could only be used for law enforcement reasons, and not for example for marketing. I would have no problem at all with somebody who is making death threats on Twitter not being protected by anonymity. Obviously I would have problems with somebody making regime critical remarks on Twitter being shot at dawn, so the issue isn't as easy as that. But it would certainly be a debate worth having.

Comments:
Just thought I'd mention that I do actually read, or at least give a quick once-over, to the terms and conditions of every online service that requires registration. It s not all that unusual for me to change my mind about registering as a direct result of something I have found in the T&C or EULA.

For example, I bought the much-lauded Knights of the Old Republic game on DVD some years ago but when I went to install it I found the terms and conditions of use unacceptable. I have never installed or played it. It was a long time ago but I believe the issue was one of the kind of access to information stored on my PC that I was handing over.

More recently I was going to download the F2P MMO "Black Gold", primarily in order to try it and write about the experience on my blog. On reading the T&C before downloading I discovered that by downloading and installing the game you sign away all global rights to anything you may ever write about the game on a blog (among other extremely harsh conditions - its one heck of a T&C). Consequently I haven't played and won't be playing Black Gold. My loss I'm sure.

So, read the T&C every time is my advice. It doesn't take long and you might be unpleasantly surprised to find what rights you're signing away.
 
Didn't Google+ rescind their real name policy back in July. I really hope this is the start of a trend.

I understand the reasons for real name policies - to facilitate advertisers and to deter abuses and illegality but surely the same benefits could be achieved using verified pseudonyms and a little bit of imagination.

I have no objection to Facebook or Google or Twitter knowing that I am the real person behind "Woopdedoop99" and I guess I agree that they should pass that information on to law enforcement authorities if I break the law.

I don't understand however why they want to publicly paste my real name on every angst filled post or trite cat video I upload.
 
I don't understand however why they want to publicly paste my real name on every angst filled post or trite cat video I upload.

If you say it like that, I can suddenly see the advantage: Less angst filled posts and trite cat video uploads! :)
 
I think it's okay if you only have to identify yourself for participation in the trading via Twitter. Option to stay anonymous and not participate in trading should be there.
 
I looked at the Black Gold Terms and Conditions. I think you don't (assuming they are legally valid) actually sign away all your rights. You assign them a non-exclusive right to use your postings, but it doesn't take the rights from you.

I imagine they would mostly be hoping to use quotes in advertising material without legal risk. It's maybe not as monstrous as it seems...
 
Years and years ago, I wrote some guides on a forum and the forum used a nickname.

I forgot all about it until years later I was googling my real name and found these references to that guide I wrote all those years ago.

Point is -- I'm fine with using a nick but I don't trust the other side with my anonymity.
 
I would have no problem at all with a site where to the public I could be "Tobold", but the company running the site would have my verified identity, as long as that identity could only be used for law enforcement reasons, and not for example for marketing.

Haha, very funny. Of course it would not be used for marketing until the next ToS/EULA update which you won't read and which will require you to opt-out of the "sell data to marketers" option.....
 
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