Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Google+ allows nicknames, maiden names in new identity policy

Back in August, last year, Google had come down heavily on Google+ users with pseudonyms, or fake names and compulsorily use their real world names. By doing so, Google intended to make it easier for users to locate the authentic accounts of their friends or their favourite celebrity. However, soon after the ban was imposed, reports about the ban being repealed began surfacing. Reportedly, at the Web 2.0 Summit, last year, Google's Vice President of social, Vic Gundotra, was quoted as saying, "We plan to support pseudonyms in the future. We’re working on it. It’s coming." And now, sure enough, an update policy for identity on Google+ is out. In an official post, Bradley Horowitz states that, "With Google+, we aspire to make online sharing more like sharing in the real world. And during the Google+ signup process, we've asked users to select the name they commonly use in real life. Since launch we've listened closely to community feedback on our names policy, as well as reviewed our own data regarding signup completion. The vast majority of users sail through our signup process -- in fact, only about 0.1% submit name appeals."
Google plus logos
Updating the identity policy

According to the post, this move by Google is a result of the community feedback that they have been receiving pertaining to their names policy. After careful scrutiny, Horowitz states that they have managed to bifurcate the kind of requests they have been receiving. Majority of the users, roughly 60 percent of them wanted to add their nicknames on Google+, while some 20 percent of users wanted to add pseudonyms or unconventional names. Another 20 percent of the requests, according to the post actually came in from businesses. These set of user(s) were among those who were trying to set up their business as a profile, instead of a Google Page.

Keeping these requests in mind, Google+ has introduced features, which will update their identity policy over a course of time. Over the course of the next week, Google+ will allow users to, alongside their common name, use their nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script, altogether. The post also makes it clear that changing one's name on Google+ will take place across all channels that require a Google Profile. To make these changes, users will have to follow the step below: 

  • Go to Google+ profile,
  • click Edit Profile,
  • select your name and
  • click on “More options.” (See attached photos)

The other feature will allow Google+ users to use established pseudonyms, like +Madonna. The post states, "On Google+, we try to flag names which don’t represent individuals, such as businesses or abstract ideas which should be +Pages. Sometimes we get this wrong, so starting today we’re updating our policies and processes to broaden support for established pseudonyms, from +trench coat to +Madonna." However, if Google+ still ends up flagging the name the user intends to use, the user can provide Google+ with information that will help them assess the established identity. These details, according to the post, may include: 

  • References to an established identity offline in print media, news articles, etc
  • Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license
  • Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following

To view Google+'s Names Policy, click here.

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