Google+ to fix unannounced banishings

Liam Tung | Jul 27, 2011 7:11 AM
Fights to keep dogs off the internet.

Google will change the structure of its sign-up process for Google+ after facing criticism for booting off members who had registered under pseudonyms. 

“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,” Bradley Horowitz, Google+ vice president of product conceded in a Tuesday post. 

Google+ will press ahead with its demand that users sign with their real names, which may -- if it is successful -- address the internet authenticity problem highlighted by the 1993 New Yorker cartoon caption: "On the internet, nobody knows you're a dog". 

However, it will now issue a warning to members who do not use their real names “to correct their name in advance of any suspension”.

To avoid downstream problems it will change its sign-up process by including an "other names" field designed to facilitate “self expression”. 

“If you add nicknames, maiden names, etc. to the "Other names" portion of your G+ profile, those with permission to view those fields can search for you using that term,” wrote Horowitz. 

People looking to sign up to Google+ face three simple rules, according to its support page: Members must use a real name “in a single language”, while avoiding the use of “unusual characters” and “non-person” identities, such as a pet’s name or a business. 

Under Google+‘s former real-name enforcement process, it would ask non-real-name members to provide additional verification of their identity, including a Facebook account name, ZDNet US reported.

One complainant pointed out that a Facebook validation would rely on a network that allowed its founder Mark Zuckerberg to create a profile for his Hungarian sheepdog, Beast.  

Other Google+ users had complained of being blacklisted from other Google services, such as Gmail, due to their pseudonym Google+ account, but Horowitz issued a carefully-worded denial.

“Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won't be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you'll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on.”  

Google’s real-name policy was not about real names, per se, but removing people who spelled their names in weird ways, Google’s senior vice president of engineering, Vic Gundotra, told SIlicon Valley insider Robert Scoble.

[Gundotra] says they have made some mistakes while doing the first pass at this and they are learning,” wrote Scoble, adding that Google+ was working on ways to handle pseudonyms.