Social networking is a hot topic, and super-developer Blizzard recently announced a new social networking system called Real ID, which we've reported on earlier. On its face, Real ID seems quite useful, enabling you to keep track of friends even if they have multiple characters. There is only one tiny problem – you need to use your real name. Blizzard has stated publically that this is meant to be a measure against trolling, the theory being that trolls won’t be as likely to cause trouble if they’re not protected by anonymity.
Unsurprisingly, the internet is not fond of the idea.
Real names, many folks believe, give up way too much information. One Blizzard employee, in an attempt to prove that Real ID will not be a privacy problem, posted his full name, Micah Whipple, as a challenge. Soon after, a blog post on WoW Riot appeared listing Micah’s address, phone number, age, and more. Micah has now taken down his Facebook profile.
Above: Say hello to Micah. He’s on the left.
Ah, but it doesn’t end there. A new blog, called “What’s in a Name” has been created in protest of the Real ID system. On it you can find the personal information of various Blizzard and Activision employees, including information about Bobby Kotick and his wife Nina Kotick. Did you know that Bobby Kotick’s oldest child, Gracie, is eleven years old and likes to ski?
Above: Exposing your real name also exposes the names of your friends and family. And, rightly or wrongly, places them in the line of fire.
The ultimate irony of this situation is that Blizzard has finally given the trolls a valid point. Publishing the information of Blizzard and Activision employees is more than a little creepy, but it also serves the purpose of exposing the flaws in the Real ID system. Your name is a key, and it can be used to track you down.
Now the ball is in Blizzard’s court. As outrage over Real ID spreads it seems only matter of time until everyone on Blizzard’s payroll has had his or her information posted on a blog. Will Blizzard stand fast in the face of the trolls, or acknowledge that real names are a legitimate privacy concern?
Jul 7, 2010