Judgement matters... If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place... If you really need that kind of privacy, the reality is that search engines - including Google - do retain this information for some time and it's important, for example, that we are all subject in the United States to the Patriot Act and it is possible that all that information could be made available to the authorities.
What he said two years ago about Google Search, and what he is trying to say now about Google+, is that these services are not for those with high security and privacy needs. And he's right; they aren't. As a US company, Google must conform to US law. This means Google must store certain information and under various circumstances provide the police and the government with said information. You really think Google+ allowing you to use a pseudonym would then make it ok for use by those with strong anonymity requirements? Absolutely not.
EDIT: Please see jrockway's comment for a correction. Google is not legally required in the US to store information; still, they are in the EU. In any case, they are legally required to provide information they do have in many situations. Google chooses to retain some information in order to produce a more competitive product. This is how Google chooses to do business and it would be silly for those with strong anonymity requirements to use Google's services.
Google stores information because they think it's a useful service. That is, of course, subject to search by the government. But it is possible to make a search engine that didn't store anything; there is no law that requires maintaining HTTP access logs or anything like that.
This entire issue is incredibly sticky and, while I find it hard to disagree with Google's position in the short term, it does have me worried in a number of ways in the long term.
I totally agree, and this is true for all other services hosted in the US such as Diaspora who claim to protect you more than Google, this is simply not true. All services hosted there are subject to the same laws. Same goes for services hosted in Europe and around the world.
It was that they can't provide you with real privacy (against, say, governments), so they're not going to pretend like they do. If you want real privacy, this isn't the social network for you (and personally, I don't think there is one, but there's likely a market for it -- a tor-esque anonymizing social network would be pretty awesome).
On top of that, that it's useful to know that everyone on G+ has passed some minimum bar that they're who they say they are. A low minimum, but a minimum.
For the first part, there are some distinctions ignored, specifically pseudonyms. I suspect the answer is "we don't really care about pseudonyms." For the second, I can see it making sense the same way a financial exchange does. You know there are crooks and ways to cheat, but you also know that even the low degree of securities law enforcement is substantial enough to make your transactions pretty safe.
Yes, because that's clearly working well:
The words in the article were not Eric's, they were the questioner paraphrasing Eric's response.
If enough people do that, they'll either change or scrap the service.
Two, the differing initial demographics. Facebook initially launched to college students and they established its initial environment. G+ started with the technorati, many of whom care deeply about this. Some of whom have handles going back longer than Google has existed.
I'm old enough to remember when Facebook launched with an actual emphasis on privacy. You couldn't even join Facebook as a random person from off the street -- you had to be a Harvard student, then a college student, then a student of some kind. It took some time for the service to open up to the general public at all. Then even at that point (as far as I can tell; I was never much of a Facebook user) your content was more restricted to your immediate circle of friends than it is today. And, of course, friend lists were naturally smaller in those days. When Facebook changed their privacy defaults, it tended to happen gradually, without much fanfare except for revolts among the relatively small number of cognoscenti who knew about the obscure settings screens that most users never even visit.
In other words, Facebook successfully seduced people into trusting them, by starting out smaller and more constrained than they are today, and by almost always speaking with a human voice -- generally, the voice of your good friend who has just invited you to Facebook.
Google, on the other hand, started out as the friendly-but-distinctly-nonhuman omniscient robot who has read everything and indexed everything and can answer any question about anything. Then it watched all our YouTube videos and scanned all our books and memorized all our maps, and it helpfully filed all our email for us, and it got some spy satellites and photographed all of our backyards, and it grew eyes and drove around the city capturing pictures of our buildings (along with the occasional embarrassed passerby).
And only then, after it had established a very strong reputation as the super-powerful arbiter of all world knowledge, including knowledge of every one of us, did the Googlebot throw a party, invite us, and ask us all -- using a voice carefully designed by a team of top-notch professionals -- to be its friend. And to speak clearly into the microphones, so that the after-party analysis team can get a clear transcript of everything we say.
It's all in the delivery.
Google+ is that and all other services
Google: If your profile is under review, you will not be able to make full use of Google services that require an active profile such as Google+, Buzz, and some social features of Reader and Picasa Web Albums. For example, on Buzz, you can't create content, on Reader you can't share items with other users or follow other users, and on Picasa Web Albums you can't comment on photos.
"That is just a vicious rumor. They explicitly said the no other service of theirs will be affected." http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=2907098
"Other services aren't affected. Period."
Having core features of other services disabled is clearly an affect on those services.
So, my question to you is: when did they "explicitly" say no other services were affected? And if they never did, why did you claim they did?
And a site requiring real names for account can still be used to communicate ideas anonymously. Similar to how money laundering works in US banks (which must be tied to a real name! OMG! How will anyone ever be able to use cash!). So on G+ you can have thought laundering!
Anyway, I just don't get why everyone is so anti-Google. Providing a service that requires someone to use their real name doesn't hurt anonymity anymore than putting a hamburger on the menu hurts vegetarians.
I can understand banning obscenities for usernames; I can understand banning fraudsters.
But if I show up as LispNerd3K on G+ and only G+... who gives a rip? I mean, seriously.
I was going to put some serious effort into G+, kinda use it as a mini-blogging platform, but I don't really care for the anti-hacker mindset that appears to be driving policy there.
As for who cares, at least I do. I can't think of anyone whom I care about enough to follow on G+, but only know by a username or nick of some kind. In all but a handful of cases the real name is the primary identifier I have for those persons, the nick is just some added metadata. I find e.g. Twitter's handling of names to be rather repulsive, and it's probably one minor reason for why I repeatedly bounced off that platform.
Admittedly I'm nowhere near as passionate about this as people ranting about how evil the Google+ name policy is, and how as a result they're going to delete their Gmail account, switch to Bing, and block Googlebot. So maybe it would have been more pragmatic to give into those people and turn Google+ into a free for all wasteland. Depends totally on what the ratio of people who strongly hate the policy is compared to the people who mildly like it.
(How is this supposed to be an anti-hacker mindset anyway?)
I specifically said moral, because I want to consider the matter in isolation from the advertising and trust service question. It is unquestionable that different angles on the problem will result in different analysis with different final results.
Most discussions don't clearly set out what they are talking about, and conflate the different issues and angles.
From an advertising pov G+ wants to have as much information about you as possible to best target ads. This is basically a good thing as you see more of what you want and they get more clickthrough and can sell ads for more. When you type something into google search, google can make an educated guess about who you are based on your query, geo information and past searches. A primary goal of G+ is to associate the G+ information you are voluntarily filling out (real name, address, hobbies, etc) with the rest of googles ad network making it leaps better.
That is why google thinks social networking is important, and why g+ doesn't need to "win" vs facebook for it to have a net positive effect on google. Even mild G+ adoption makes googles whole network of ads much more intelligent.
I am not a business strategy person but this explanation makes sense to me so take it as a guess/opinion.
If Google knows you as LispNerd3k, living in Philadelphia, about 30yo, geeky, white, male, past searches "xorg issue fedora 15" and "sicp", that's more than enough to give you targeted ads. As long as your pseudonym is consistent across websites (or Google services at least), there's no need for your real name.
This is a ridiculous argument. How often have you wondered, "Is this person I'm talking to really a dog?" Of course it's a real person, even if he goes by a stupid name like me.
If Google is really trying to build an identity service rather than a social network, they need to come up with better arguments than this as to why that's a good idea.
http://bit.ly/jb485V (Wikipedia, shortened because HN breaks the real URL by stripping out the apostrophe).
I'd slit my wrists to have a firstname.lastname@example.org email.
"Don't use Google+" is the only sensible thing I see here.
But the fact that Lawrence Page and Vivek Gundotra are allowed to keep their pseudonymous "Larry" and "Vic" accounts makes it clear that Schmidt is lying through his teeth about real names being essential to identity. (I agree that these nicknames are better choices for the account than their real names — but that fact runs contrary to Schmidt's position, so either he's unaware of his CEO's real name or he's being disingenuous.)
I'm 'ubernostrum' here. And also on reddit. And also on a bunch of other websites. And on Twitter. And also on IRC. And it's part of my most-often-publicly-distributed email address. I've been 'ubernostrum' since the last millennium, and I actually get annoyed when I find a site where someone else already has the name, because that means someone's using it who isn't me.
This is the difference between anonymity and pseudonymity. Someone who's anonymous is a one-off. Someone who's pseudonymous is the same person, the same identity, consistently over time -- just not their actual real name. And that's an incredibly common thing in the tech world, and I'm surprised so many people don't get that when they've probably been living happily in a pseudonymous world for years.
For instance, I argue regularly against violent racists on certain football forums. I've been threatened by them and had them asking people what my real name is. Thankfully, I use a pseudonym on there (a different one to the one I use on here) and have so far been able to express those opinions without being physically attacked by thugs.
Or, God forbid, the Wikileaks. Damned whistleblowers... :P
The solution I'd like to see, to help those with delicate sensibilities, is a way to toggle whether or not you allow interaction with pseudonymous folks. This would allow those of us who enjoy hearing from folks who use pseudonyms to continue to do so, but would allow those who don't to employ filtering.
It's looking, however, like it's G+'s business model, and not concern for what users wants, that is driving G+ policy.
Regardless: 4chan is not a model for Internet privacy.
I'm okay with this stance. If you don't want to use real names, find another service.
At a certain point your choice is give up privacy or give up participation in society. Right now giving up G+ is not giving up email, or giving up having a cell phone, or giving up driving, but at a certain point it will be exactly like that.
This is the argument that needs to be raised more frequently in these discussions. Until there is a unified architecture for social interaction across different networks, it is very important which networks you can access. If we don't have a unifying protocol that links all social networks, then in the end, there can be only one.
Arguing that pseudonymous users should find a different service is equivalent to arguing that they should be entirely excluded from social interaction with the broader society.
How do you propose to do this when all services are tied to identity?
So basically the answer is that if you are endangered by reveling your real name, you shouldn't use it, at least not at this stage which is prudent advice.
That said, all this proves is this: No matter what you think of Google and G+, vis-a-vis Facebook - or what you think of any other centralized social-network that's controlled by some central authority - the bottom line is that they all suffer from the same problem: autocratic, dictatorial control by a cabal of leaders who aren't accountable to the users.
This whole debate should serve to remind all of us of the importance of research, development, and standards work around decentralized, federated, distributed social-networks where the user maintains control of their information. Whether it's Appleseed, Diaspora, OneSocialWeb or something that hasn't even come along yet, we need the ability to walk away from the Facebooks and G+s off the world, while not giving up on this form of communication.
The reality is that Google+ can't provide strong anonymity because of all the laws it is subject to. Rather than entice someone into a false sense of security, they are flat out saying, "don't use our service if you require anonymity". It's not a pleasant message, but it's the truth, and that has value.
Even if you're using a pseudonym for something the government doesn't care about (like _why was), it can still be upsetting when someone finds out who you really are. _why dropped off the face of the Internet when some kids decided to make it their life's work to figure out his "real name". Google wants to avoid being a tool for this sort of disruption to life and communities.
I'm pretty sure you're wrong, based on the work of Gary Walker:
as reported by Charlie Stross:
"Send a poison pen email and you can get an account suspended until the owner verifies their identity by sending a scan of some ID."
Simple steps to get a Google+ account, using a fake name:
1) Choose a name that doesn't have multiple Wikipedia entries. 
2) Do not report your own account as fake.
Following those 2 simple rules, I was able to maintain multiple Facebook profiles for years. I doubt Google+ is any harder to game than Facebook.
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Walker_(musician), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Walker
That's hardly good enough. The Library of Alexandria was able to not burn down for years.
Tomorrow Facebook may catch on to you, and then most of your Facebook profiles will be gone. Hope there's nothing in there you wanted to keep.
Google is very clearly reserving the right to demand ID from us at any time in the future, and to delete our profiles if that ID doesn't satisfy them. Just because they are very undemanding, easy to satisfy, and easy to spoof today doesn't mean they won't get stricter tomorrow. And then our fake names, and all their associated data, and all their friends and reputations, and perhaps even all the data from associated accounts... will be gone. I fail to see how it's a feature that Google will give me plenty of time to accumulate precious things in my account before they get around to summarily deleting it.
[Things could get harder the day governments start issuing cryptographic IDs (like, say, a smartcard which Google can query remotely).]
Some already are. My citizen card (Portugal) already contains a public-private key pair that I can use to log in to online governmental services.
I'm not sure if there's a service available for third-parties to check someone's identity, though.
Employee ID card;
School ID card;
Health insurance card (not a Medicare card);
U.S. military ID card;
Life insurance policy; or
Marriage document (only in name change situations).
Does this mean that I shouldn't be prepared to express opinions unless I'm prepared to defend myself physically for holding those opinions?
As I've mentioned elsewhere in this thread, I argue regularly (using a pseudonym) on one of my local football team's forums against a group of racists. Those racists are people who I'm pretty certain have used violence in the past, and I'm pretty certain would be more than happy to use violence in the future. I'm personally not a violent person, so should I simply keep quiet and let the voices of those prepared to use violence be the only ones that are heard?
My posts may not change their opinions, but it's got a chance of changing the opinions of other people who go to these forums. Being a sports site, there's plenty of impressionable kids going there and if all they read, day after day, is links to stories about blacks or Muslims doing this crime or that crime, without any balance being presented they are going to get a pretty screwed up view of the world.
You don't get out much, do you?
And I notice that your lack of knowledge of the subject didn't stop you commenting on it.
I’m less likely to use G+ when I can’t use it to talk to people who aren’t using the form of their name that’s on their birth certificate. That’s quite different from anonymous griefers.
Google+ doesn't force you to use the name that is on your birth certificate. They say you can use what most people call you so you aren't force to use your full second names for example. For example, if your name on your bc is Patrick John David Smith, G+ says it's ok to just use Patrick Smith if that is what most people call you.
The problem here is that many people have legitimate reasons to, for example, go by more than one name. Always having to use your most popular name is simply not good enough in many cases.
I think most people are fine with Google trying to discourage lightweight throwaways on their service. What upsets people is what seems like an inflexibility that isn’t in Google’s own interests. Advertising to me under an “alternate” name is not significantly less efective than under my most popular name. If I’m willing to use a name to socially network, clearly I have some significant commitment to it; functionally, it is a real name.
I don’t want to rehash all the arguments here, though. I just wanted to point out that requiring “real” names is not necessary or sufficient to prevent G+ from being 4chan, and shouldn’t be conflated with that.
I always hate this argument. I honestly don't give a flying fuck what most people are using it for if there exists a nontrivial contingent of people who are using it for legitimate purposes and, trust me, there are a fair number of people using anonymity and pseudonymity for legitimate purposes.