ISSN : 2266-6060

Names and their pleats

Recently, there has been lots of discussions about names and their presence on the Web. Anonyms, pseudonyms, patronyms. A real Nymwar has been declared. Could companies such as Facebook or Google impose the use of a real name? Is there, actually, such a thing as real names? And if so, where do they stand? How can we recognize them?
In fact, what Facebook and Google really wanted was civil names. That means that when an employee or an algorythm, suspected some name to be a fake one, they suspended the account and asked for proofs. They asked for papers that would display some official links between a user and a name. Conversely, people who complained about such a policy, claimed for their right to remain unknown and to use pseudonyms.
Finally, after weeks of instense debates the two Internet giants accepted to adapt some of their rules and to do what a lot of people do in other domains (art, science…): display a name that differs from the one written on official papers. To do so, they had to adopt new devices and create new spaces in their forms. They had to add a new layer of writings. The same you can find in this picture and you deal with when filling a license agreement. This is a very simple tool, yet powerful, which both separates and joins two names in the same movement. That’s what a pseudonym draws on, and that’s why it differs completely from anonymity: an assemblage made of paper or electronic trails, which stabilizes both names, and holds them together in a durable pleat. An assemblage that still ensures the two companies each account is attached to a sole person, an in-dividual. Not so much an author, in this case, than a consumer, which is attached by other trails to a bank account (and needs, preferences, and rational choices, economists and marketers would say). At least that’s what their leaders are hoping for. Hopefully there are still lots of ways to cheat.