Home > Gaming, Internet, PC > World of Warcraft – Real ID Anonymity Attack

World of Warcraft – Real ID Anonymity Attack

One of these things is not like the other, One of these girls' a dude.

Currently there has been a big ruckus for World of Warcraft fans. Recently Blizzard implemented the Real ID system, which allows you to maintain contact with friends across all blizzard games and character accounts. This system reveals your real full name to those you add as Real ID friends.  Blizzard did this as a stepping stone to create a social network among their games.   Then they prepared to launch a new system by tying the Real IDs to the WoW forums.  The result of this would find people being forced to use their real full names on the forum with every post. Upon hearing this, a storm of rage spread across the Internet. There are a number of issues that have come up in regards to this, and they all are tied to anonymity and the Internet in general.

The first key issue is the fact that people on the internet prefer to be anonymous.  This is part of what draws them to the computer in the first place.  The ability to freely express oneself without repercussion beyond being flamed on a forum is a privilege that we embrace whole heartedly.  This pleasure would be taken away by requiring people to take full responsibility for what they say online.  This is seen as both good and bad.  One can see it as good in the way that people may be required to think before posting something online.  Perhaps this might dwindle the number of trolls and overall negativity.  One may ask though, how does this force responsibility?  Well here’s where the bad comes and here is where we find the big problem with this change.

We now live in an era where privacy is non-existent online.  I can assure you that anything you believe to be private that exists online only remains so because someone doesn’t care enough to find out what it is.  This is a time of social networking and, thanks to Facebook, this often leads to our personal information being laid out upon the web for anyone to access.  We see the problem arise by the fact that Facebook processes everything by your actual first and last name as the key method of finding people.  Now let’s say you’re on the WoW forums using your real name.  It’s a simple bit of logic to find the people with that name on Facebook.  Then you can narrow down the regions of the search by examining their characters and determining which servers they are on and thereby their timezone.  Then you can take the time to look at those individuals and search for hobbies that probably include WoW or even easier is if they use the Facebook app that updates with achievements their WoW characters get.  Now if they are too open you can easily find out their address, phone number, friends, and family.  It’s fairly scary when you consider some of the people you come across on the Internet.

Perhaps a greater issue is that of kids who play WoW.  Will their information be revealed on the forums as well?  I don’t recall if the WoW forums have an age requirement to post, but I imagine most accounts are filled out by parents anyway.  Kids are allowed Facebook accounts and many are a little too open about their personal information because they simply don’t know any better.  This could lead to sever problems on Blizzard’s part legally should anything happen as a result of someone tracking down kids information.

Another matter that arises is simply the fact that people do disguise themselves on the internet because it makes them more comfortable.  Men pretend to be women because they may be going through life changing issues or simply trying to manipulate other men into getting them free stuff.  Imagine the shocker when you find out the night elf you’ve been flirting with is a forty year old man.  Women also pretend to be men because they don’t want to deal with the massive attention and different treatment they get when someone finds out “zomg a gurl plays WoW.”  I, for one, play all of my MMO characters with different personalities.  My tank characters are older, wiser, and are concerned with making sure everyone’s ok.  I have dark magic characters who are generally jerks.  I have other characters that simply like to tell really stupid jokes and have a laugh all the time.  This doesn’t really effect me being concerned about people knowing they are all the same person, but I myself am bothered a bit by the idea of my real name being forced out there without my choosing.

Blizzard has since come out and stated that they are backtracking on their decision to force real name publication with forum posts.  There was an addendum of “at this time” at the end of their decision to not implement though so who knows if we’ll see it again.  I imagine it’ll all end up in the End User License Agreement that everyone signs along with the parts that allow Blizzard to examine all the data on your computer and prevent you from knowing what they’re looking at, but that’s an issue for another day.

  1. July 11, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    I see it as almost an inevitable. I am glad they removed the idea (even if it is for now), but I can see forum posts dwindling because of it. I for one will no longer post. Not that I have frequently in the past…

  2. kahsha
    July 14, 2010 at 7:16 am

    I know which one!

  3. November 6, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Noticed this blog is about bots, and game automation, quite amazing there is blogs about this ^^ personally, I use ShadowBot, a nice botting software, with anti warden, check hxxp://goo{gl}/nvOWp (replace hxxp, and {} by a dot)

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