The launch of Google+ has caused an old issue to boil to the surface: should you be required to use your real name when signing up for Facebook, LinkedIn and other social networking services? The Big 3 think so and whether you agree or not, you're witnessing the beginning of the end of the anonymous internet.
We've all seen how presumably normal people, combined with an anonymous profile, can become "comment trolls" of the worst type. Discussions over heated topics quickly spiral into name-calling and curse-word-filled rants against the other side, resulting in the equivalent of an online riot where nothing gets accomplished.
It's amazing how real names attached to real profiles make the discussion civil and polite. When we turned our comments over to Facebook on several sites about a year ago, the quality of debate and discussion improved immensely.
Everyone understands that when your online reputation is at stake, the cursing, screaming and personal attacks drop significantly.
Some will argue that it is in the best interest of the social networks to to have real profiles associated with real people. That's true, but I think we all get a better online experience when people think twice about what they say online.
Their online reputation depends on it - as it should.