Google+ has decided to ban the use of pseudonyms and nicknames in place of real names. In response to feedback though, users will not be immediately suspended for violating Google’s Common Names Policy.
The change comes weeks after Google came under fire for suspending countless accounts that violated its Common Names Policy. The policy, designed to fight spam and prevent the creation of fake profiles, suspended several high-profile users for using their commonly-known pseudonyms instead of their real names. It resulted in a firestorm of criticism and questions about potential safety issues.
That hasn’t stopped Google from deciding to eliminate the use of pseudonyms on its social network. Google+ Product Manager Saurabh Sharma explained that the decision was made “to make connecting with people on the web more like connecting with people in the real world” on Google+.
Sharma also announced a change though — instead of immediately suspending accounts in violation of the policy, the company will be giving users a four day grace period to fix their profile names before they’re suspended.
“During this period, you can continue to use Google+ as usual,” Sharma said. “We’re hoping that most affected users will be able to quickly fix their profile name while continuing to enjoy all that Google+ has to offer.”
Google+ Gets Backlash
Response to the announcement was overwhelmingly negative from Google+’s users. Some of the responses were harsh. Here’s a selection of the responses:
– “Still don’t get it, do you?” ~ Larry MacGregor (+105)
– “What about the people who are isolated in the real world because of the realities of their real world circumstances? Do they really no longer get to connect? That’s incredibly sad.” ~ Melissa Draper (+53)
~ So, if someone commonly goes by something similar to, oh let’s use the example Lady Gaga; what determiners do you use to decide whether that meets your Names Policy? I still don’t think you guys are on the right track. In fact, you are woefully lost.” ~ Gregg Wanciak (+49)
~ “So, if I decide to put my real name out there, Can I sue Google when some nutjob shows up on my doorstep? Why in the world would Google encourage anyone to make themselves vulnerable in this way? This is just so dumb.” ~ Mrs Fours (+22)
There is clearly a vocal group that is opposed to this change, mostly for safety reasons. Google’s bigger problem may be finding a way to enforce its Common Names Policy in a consistent way. Some users use pseudonyms in real life — do they need to use their real names or is their common pseudonym fine for Google+? Where is the line drawn?
Google+ clearly is going through growing pains — it’s to be expected of any new social network. Whether the common names controversy becomes a blip of the radar or an enduring problem remains to be seen.