Using Real Names & Personal Privacy on the Internet

Anphicle June 21, 2010 0

Using real names on the internet in modern times is equivalent to throwing away any personal privacy and respect for your own identity. I will tell you why I feel my right to privacy is such an imperative issue for me I am willing to leave a top resource and community in order to protect my identity.

I recently joined Quora – the question and answer community using my moniker Anphicle. During sign up it insisted on me using at least two names so I creatively put Dotorg as my surname. Within 20 minutes of browsing I received the following message from the generic Admin team account.


One of the rules of this site is that everyone uses his or her real full name. Please change your name to reflect this.


As Anphicle is a real name I replied;

I tried to but sadly Quora assumes a world where everybody has two names. I could put it twice?

At this point I’d also tweeted about the issue I was offended by and was contacted by a member of the Quora admin.

Hi Anphicle – I’m an admin on the site, and I saw all the back and forth on your user name. Sorry about that. I don’t think folks realized that Anphicle is your actual handle. To clarify, is Anphicle your actual name or is it a pseudonym? I don’t know that we care one way or the other, but I’m trying to sort this out. We’ve never had a problem like this before, but of course we want to get folks in the community, not keep them out.

I replied;

Hi, yes Anphicle is my name, everybody knows me as that. I respect the idea of using real names as opposed to having ‘bieberluvr83′ and such but as I respect my privacy more than the desire to use any site, I choose to withhold my surname from the entire internet. As I was stuck what to put for a second name I thought I might as well plug my site, though it wasn’t a deliberate attempt to do that.

I hope to stick around and that using just one real name complies with Quora policy.

After some consideration by seemingly the entire Quora board I received this reply which is where we stand today.

Hi Anphicle – Unfortunately, the policy as of today is that users have to use their real names on the site. A disappointing consequence of this is that we’ll lose great potential users like yourself who have strong feelings about not using their real/full names.

We may change this policy in the future, and if we do, I’ll let you know.

Thanks for being so thoughtful about this.

Using Real Names On The Internet

So why would I want to withhold using my real name across the web? It is because it is searchable. The professional networking site LinkedIn was first to see this as golden search engine juice, and Facebook recently opened up its previously closed platform because people are searching people, and the data they hold is comparable to major cash assets. People are searching other people all the time whether they be family, employees, stalkers or journalists trying to find some juicy back details to some victims of a vicious crime. I have an issue with this, you may not see it but when you can’t get that new job in 2015 because of an opinion you had in 2004 you may see the problem.

So when Quora asked me to use a full, real name (which, incidentally, I did) and uphold a policy that I cannot participate without doing so I was quite happy to let them know I was willing to leave instead of doing so. The whole idea of Quora is that users provide the long tail keywords and the content to information from all sorts of different categories. I don’t have a problem with this despite it trying to knock niche sites off the block. But when it gets personal, it gets personal.

It may sound like I may be picking on Quora but it is a wide-spread thing to do in the modern world. So many new sites give you the option of signing in with Facebook which is essentially the same thing. You also become traceable across the web, so that when somebody searches you, they can see your online activities. Be careful on the web, it is twice as dangerous as the late nineties.

Despite changing my name to Anphicle Mononym, I just received an email saying my account was suspended stating I had to use a real name. Roll.

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