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    Computerworld: Blizzard backs down after users voice privacy concerns

    Computerworld reports on a quick retreat by a gaming company from a proposal to require users of its forums to post under their true identities, or “Real ID.” The company’s first mistake seems to be picking for its user ID program the same name as a controversial national identification program developed by the Department of Homeland Security.

    Gaming giant Activision Blizzard Inc. today said it has abandoned plans to force commenters to use real names when posting on its World of Warcraft and StarCraft forums after loud protests from its users and others.

    In a message posted on the company’s Web site shortly before 1 p.m. EDT today, Activision Blizzard CEO Mike Morheieme said the company changed the plan announced earlier after receiving a raft of feedback, much of it criticizing the move, from users posting to the company’s forums.

    In a post at the time, the company said the move was part of an effort to eliminate the “flame wars, trolling, and other unpleasantness” on its forums. “Removing the veil of anonymity typical to online dialogue will contribute to a more positive forum environment [and] promote constructive conversations,” the company had noted. […]

    The change was slated to take effect later this month and immediately stirred a vigorous debate on online privacy and anonymity issues. […]

    As of this morning, this Blizzard forum, for instance, had close to 50,000 comments spread over some 2,500 pages. Most comments expressed concern that the forced use of real names on Blizzard forums would needlessly expose users to everything loss of anonymity and identity theft to stalking and other forms of harassment.

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