It looks like companies just don’t understand the internet anymore. First Facebook wants to make everything about you open to the public. Now Blizzard is going to force you to display your first and last name if you want to post on their game forums. There are many reasons why this is a terrible, terrible idea.
The first being is stalking. There have been so many cases of people getting harassed through the internet. People have commit suicide over it. Has anyone every pissed you off so much in a game you wish you could beat them up? I haven’t, but I’ve seen this reaction countless times on forums and talked about on Xbox Live. Now Blizzard is going to give them the first piece of information to really do some damage to you.
What can someone do with a name? Well if you have a Facebook account or Myspace than you are going to be easy to find. From there they will be able to locate a lot of forums you post on, possibly your phone number, your email, etc. Now they can harass you in many ways.
But what if they want to take it beyond playful phone calls at 2AM in the morning? You managed to get them so mad that they want to steal your WOW account. Blizzard asks for your first name, last name and email to retrieve your Battle.net password. If you post on the forum, your attacker knows your first and last name. That can be used to find your facebook and email address. Once the attacker has that, they go to your email and activate the forgot password recovery. If you selected the question what school did you go to and have it listed on your Facebook, you are in deep trouble now. They have full access to your email account and possibly many other places such as your bank, personal message and any number of forums you post on. All that is left is to reset the Battle.net password and delete you WOW characters!
Security on the internet is designed around private information. What is the name of your first pet. Who is your favorite teacher. What is your birthday. Many of this is now available for all the world to see. The final piece of the puzzle is connecting your online persona to your Facebook profile. When that happens you are one huge target for whoever does not like you.
I think Blizzard is going to back track on this idea fast. There are already tens of thousands of posts all over the internet about this change. From what I gather the response is overwhelmingly negative.
One final note, what is Blizzard going to do if someone has a legitimate name that has something obscene in it? If Blizzard attempts to censor it they will likely be liable for a discrimination lawsuit. They would also have to disable the world censor on their forum if that person wants to include their name in their posting.
RealID is a real disaster.
A Blizzard employee decided to test out this new policy by posting his name. We now know he lives with his mother and will likely go home to a full answering machine. Funny enough, later on in the topic he warns people that just because you know someone’s name does not give you the right to find out more information of said person. Then the topic was locked.