Virtual Identities and Choice

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I’ve written before on the subject of virtual identities.

The topic came up again when I read about a planned protest at Facebook HQ over their ‘real names’ policy.

I also recently heard about another round of SLers having their accounts deleted.

Facebook has their ‘real name’ policy because that’s what their revenue model is built on – selling your RL info to companies for advertising.

If they don’t have your real name, they don’t have a product to sell.

If you don’t like their policy, don’t use their product.

I am continually amazed at people who complain about a policy they were aware of prior to signing up for the service.

There are plenty of alternatives out there.

One of them, which I use, is Avatar Social Network – a platform built specifically for virtual world identities.

Everyone thinks they have to be on Facebook because ‘everyone’ is on Facebook.

But you don’t.

It’s not that Facebook doesn’t understand the issue.

They do.

But if they don’t have your RL information, there is no revenue stream.

So until they figure out a way to sell your virtual/other identity, they don’t want you.

What I have been trying to figure out is a better way to manage my multiple identities.

While there are those who don’t mind mixing their RL and SL, I try to keep mine as separate as I can.

So I have accounts on various social media as Kat.

But I also have accounts on various social media for my RL.

I have a friend who works as an MC at conventions.

He has two identities, and he uses both in RL situations.

But many of the people he knows know him only as his MC persona.

They know nothing about his real life.

I know an artist who sells her work on DeviantArt, but under a pseudonym.

She chooses to keep her RL separate.

That’s really the crux of the issue – people want to have a choice.

Virtual worlds like Second Life give people that choice – to be what they want.

And while the protesters will claim that they have no choice with Facebook, they do.

You can choose to be on Facebook and follow their policies, or you can choose not to.

It’s up to you.

3 thoughts on “Virtual Identities and Choice

  1. A lot of us came to be on FB because LL encouraged us to be there and form a community which we did. We choose to stay on FB and ignore the rules because we enjoy the community we have there. We take the risk of being asked to prove our ID. Lots of people have been deleted and come back under their another name, possibly their real name but in one case I know it is not. Toysoldier Thor actually got himself reinstated after a long fight and they melded his old Toy account and his newer “real name” SL FB account but that’s another story.

    However the same person is behind the keyboard whatever my name is and I am subjected/exposed to FB ads whatever my name is. It just so happens that those ads know exactly where I live and tailor the ads to my area. They also know exactly what I search for on the web since I bought a Sunbeam mixmaster online and suddenly there were ads on my page for the very thing I’d bought. It drove me nuts because I’d already bought it but I guess they didn’t know that. I had been looking at Alienware computers because my husband needs a new desktop and he told me to check them out. Now FB has Dell ads down the side of my FB page and on my wall as well. That’s all coming from my IP address and not my name.

    I wasn’t aware that FB sells your RL information to anyone. From what I have read their business model is based on advertising sales which is based on user numbers. That’s all FB wants from you: exposure to their ads and hopefully you’ll click on them now and again. So what does it matter what my name is as long as I sign in regularly? And what do you know? Those identical ads are on my RL FB page too.

    I did join ASN when it started but most of my FB friends didn’t move there so I gave up on it very quickly. I’m not particularly active on FB but it does keep me up to date with what’s happening in the two communities I belong to in SL, the SL art community and the SL dance community. It actually has value for me and I assume I have some value to FB as I am forced to read the ads, no matter what my name is. I have no idea why they don’t give up on this policy. Well of course in some cases they have, so that makes it even more ludicrous to my way of thinking.

    1. It may be ludicrous, but it’s their business. As long as you’re aware of the policy and know that your account could be suspended, do what you want. My point was that complaining about a policy you’re aware of from the beginning is hypocritical and that there are alternatives. I don’t know why LL has encouraged a relationship with Facebook, given their avatar-unfriendly TOS. I simply think the energy spent fighting the policy is wasted. If enough people stopped using their service, even briefly, it would have more of an impact, imho.

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