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Google+ plans to allow fake names in the future

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 20 Oct 2011 3:33 User comments (8)

Google+ plans to allow fake names in the future Google Senior Vice-President of Social Business Vic Gundotra told an interviewer at the Web 2.0 Summit that support for pseudonyms in Google+ is coming at some point in the future.
In July, at about the same time Google+ reached 20 million users, the company began suspending accounts where people weren't using their real names as Google+ user IDs.

They defended this by pointing out their terms of service specifically require users to go by their real names:

To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of those would be acceptable.


Although Gundrota's answer seemed to be spinning what happened to save face, he did say the Google will be changing their policy in the future:

It was largely an issue of development priorities. It's complicated to get this right. It's complicated on multiple dimensions. One of the dimensions it's complicated on is atmosphere. You know if you're a woman and you post a photo and Captain Crunch or Dogfart comments on it, it changes the atmosphere of the product. And so we wanted the product to be a product where you could discover people you know. And they're not called Captain Crunch. They're called Lisa Adams, and that's how you discover the people that you know.

That doesn't mean that we're not going to support other forms of identity. It's coming. It's just that this is the way we wanted to roll out the service. This is the atmosphere we wanted to set and as we are out more than a month - we've been out in beta - open for about a month, we'll add these features.


Obviously there are many good reasons for using a fake name of some sort on Google+. If the people you want to connect with know you by another identity, such as one you use in online forums, it's actually counter productive to use your real name.

Certainly it's Google's right to make whatever rules they want for their service, but going by your real name online is the exception, rather than the rule. It seems so obvious that it seems odd Google's developers and executives wouldn't have recognized that from the beginning.

Even if true, Gundotra's explanation just makes the policy look worse. Either it's not true and he just doesn't want to admit the real reason for the policy, or the official explanation is dishonest and they arrogantly believed they could control "the atmosphere" of Google+.

A smarter approach would have been to simply admit it was a mistake and change the policy. Any other approach just makes them look foolish.

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8 user comments

120.10.2011 3:51

After sending about 40 emails to google profile support telling them that I wouldn't be changing my name OR providing them with any legal documents proving my name was what I said it was, they unsuspended my account without so much as a reply. If everyone would just refuse to put up with google's bullshit this whole thing would have been handled the first week, but instead most users simply caved and the rest of us had to fight an uphill battle.

220.10.2011 6:00

I handled it in my own way...by refusing to use this pointless service.



320.10.2011 10:02

Originally posted by KillerBug:
I handled it in my own way...by refusing to use this pointless service.
I went the extra mile to block all those little retarded buttons.

420.10.2011 20:37

in their defense, they're not far off. the vast majority of people on I see on Facebook with "fake names" aren't handles or screen names from other services, but completely ridiculous tacked-on garbage names like JoAnn Lovestoskiandgolf Reynolds. always makes me feel a bit stupider and often leads to clicking unsubscribe so their posts go away.

520.10.2011 23:32

Just because your friends are stupid doesn't mean ours are. :p

621.10.2011 2:48

who uses Facebook to communicate with their actual friends?

721.10.2011 5:43

People who don't use it to play games?

87.7.2012 8:30

I really despise Google for the way they have set up Google+. I think it's their stupidity over the entire nickname process that gets to me.

I agree; it is just common sense that most people have an online presence with a nickname that they want to use.

Also ... who wants everyone they email to have their real first and last name, especially if you are a woman? That isnt even safe!

People have let common sense fly right out the window.

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