On internet, many people believe that hiding their identity boosts their creativity and provides them freedom to express themselves. This is true to a great extent. We see valuable contributions from anonymous and they have made it clear, many times over, that they would not contribute otherwise.
However, cyber bullying, character assassination etc, that are forms of e-torment, is also done by these anonymous.
Regarding this e-torment, the former Facebook marketing director (and sister of founder Mark), Randi Zuckerberg expressed her views in the following manner:
I think anonymity on the Internet has to go away. People behave a lot better when they have their real names down. I think people hide behind anonymity and they feel like they can say whatever they want behind closed doors.
Google’s War on Anonymity
You may have noticed the recent changes in Google’s sign-up process where providing real name to signup for any of its services is a must. If you try to sign-up with a name that doesn’t looks like real, Google finds it and doesn’t allows you to complete the signup.
Bradley Horowitz (Vice President of Product Management of Google+) made it clear long ago in one of his posts on G+ . In Bradley’s words :
Many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing.
To find out how Google detects fake names we mined their patent filings and I would like to admit that we were lucky enough to stumble upon one of the patents filed by Google within a few hours.
This patent application was published in month of Nov’13 and it describes how Google makes sure that a user must enter his real name while signing up for any of its services. Below is a short and crisp description of the patent.
How Google’s New sign-up Process Detects Fake Names
According to the patent application, Google’s algorithm can detect fake names of different languages. It does an analysis of the entered names and generates a confidence score and only then declares a name as a real .
The algorithm works in a following manner.
When a user enters his name in an online registration form, the algorithm parses it into different parts and detects the language i.e. whether the name entered by the user is Chinese, Indian or an American name.
After that, the algorithm compares the name with a database having a blacklist of non-real names of that particular language.
If the name entered by the user will match with a blacklisted name. Then, his sign-up process will get terminated. Otherwise, the algorithm compares the entered name with a white list of real names. After verifying that the name is present in white list, Google allows a user to go ahead to complete the sign-up process.
Apart from that the algorithm also makes use of external databases like Government databases (a driver license or identification card database) or other external databases to confirm a real name of a user.
This is how Google makes sure that an online user should use a real name to sign up for any of its services. However, this prevent the use of non-real name in signup form only, and one can still create a fake account by using a real name.