Google+ Says 'Use Your Real Name Or You're Out'

By Tracey E. Schelmetic July 12, 2011

While many people enjoy their online life better when it includes anonymity, Google is saying – rather firmly – that users of its new Google+ social networking services must use their real names, or their accounts might be suspended. (If they catch you, presumably.)

A Google+ user recently created a profile using his character name from the online role playing game Second Life and had his account suspended, wrote tech blogger Wagner James Au. Google is instead recommending that users create profiles under their real identities and add any character names, avatars or pseudonyms to the “about” section in their account profiles.

Katie Watson, Google’s senior manager of Global Communications & Public Affairs, told Au that the company had worked with the Second Life avatar member and resolved his situation after he contacted them to appeal.

“We actually worked with this person to reinstate their profile. They changed their profile to include their real name, and then used their ‘avatar-based name’ in the field that asks for other names,” said Watson.

Business Insider, however, is reporting that no such interaction between the Second Life avatar guy and Google+ took place, and that the spokeswoman is “confused”.

The policy against anonymity isn’t new: Facebook also has a no pseudonym rule on the books, though it doesn’t appear to be particularly well enforced. Social networking companies want people to find each other easily, they say, hence the rule. But some individuals are better known by their pseudonyms: bloggers, for example, who go by other names, or online gamers who wish to socialize with other players.

It would seem to also be an effort to keep discussions and social interactions more civil: fewer people are likely to bomb other users with abuse and other nastiness if they can’t hide behind anonymity.

And as we all know, the Internet can be a pretty uncivil place.

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Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jennifer Russell

TechZone360 Contributor

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