Google Responds to Google+ Account Suspension Controversy

plus-googleGoogle has finally made a public statement about the recent wave of controversial Google+account suspensions designed to enforce the company’s “common name” policy.

The policy is outlined in section 13 of the company’s User Content and Conduct Policy. It’s designed to stop users from creating fake profiles and to set a positive tone. Section 13 reads as follows:

“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.”

This weekend, Google started enforcing the policy, deleting a large number of Google+ accounts. While some of the suspended accounts were indeed fake profiles, others like Limor “Ladyada” Fried and lifestyle blogger A.V. Flox were accidentally deleted and quickly restored.

Google SVP of Social Vic Gundotra admitted to Robert Scoble on Sunday that the company has made some mistakes with its first attempt at cracking down on fake profiles. And in Monday, Google VP of Product Bradley Horowitz wrote a more detailed post in an attempt to clear the air and set the record straight.

“We’ve noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing,” Horowitz said in his Google+ post. “So we’re currently making a number of improvements to this process, specifically regarding how we notify these users that they’re not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them.”

Among the changes Google intends to implement:

– Google will give users more warning and the chance to comply with the common name policy.
– The company is improving the signup process.
– Finally, the search giant is exploring better ways to support nicknames, maiden names and pseudonyms.

Hotowitz also took time to dispel the rumor that a suspension of a Google+ account means that a user loses his or her access to Gmail, Google Docs or other Google services. “When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed,” he said.

Google+, which will hit its one-month anniversary on Thursday, has clearly been suffering from growing pains. It has received strong criticism for its handling of Google+ brand pages.

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