People have been complaining that, by requiring real names, Google Plus trades your privacy for Google's bottom line. So Google's chairman just assured a crowd in Scotland that, in actuality, the social network trades your privacy for some frickin' awesome enhancements to Google's bottom line.
Within days of Google Plus' launch, people began complaining, often vociferously, that the service's banning of pseudonyms left vulnerable victims of stalking and harassment, people with sensitive jobs who feared getting fired, former victims of abuse and any number of people in especially sensitive situations. Some observrs, this site included, theorized that Google was collecting real names so it would have more information to leverage for commercial purposes like advertising or financial services.
Well, wonder no more: Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television festival, Google chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt said Google Plus' real names policy opens up new horizons for the company in search, video streaming, and, oh ya, promotions and financial services:
If we knew that it was a real person, then we could sort of hold them accountable, we could check them, we could give them things, we could you know bill them, you know we could have credit cards and so forth... we can have slightly better search results if I know a little bit about who you are.... We suggest YouTube videos that you should just watch one after the other. Well if I know the ones that you like, and again with your permission, I can merge that as a signal in, and get a better result.
It shouldn't come as any surprise that Google has selfish reasons for its draconian real name policy; while ordinary non-rich non-famous people get their accounts suspended for using pseudonyms, celebrities like Madonna, 50 Cent and Soulja Boy have actually had their nickname bearing accounts upgraded with a special little "verified" check mark.
The difference between these folks and, say, a woman avoiding her abusive ex boyfriend should be obvious: The woman has a lot more to lose than the celebs, but a lot less to offer Google. Poor people should probably just be grateful distracted Google Plus executives don't kill them in traffic. And, Eric Schmidt points out in the video highlights above, they can just not join Google Plus. (Advertisers don't like low income types anyway!)