The Internet is full of anonymity with people hiding behind fake names, creative monikers, edited photos, etc., but apparently not on Google+. It seems as though Google has stepped in and banned a number of accounts that have been using fake names. How Google has determined who’s real and who’s not is anyone’s guess, but it’s safe to say that they probably just focused on the obvious ones.
Google has been enforcing their strict policy of using a real first and last name to sign up for the service in an effort to ward off spammers and other Internet trolls. I for one, agree with this approach. Otherwise, Google+ will turn into what MySpace and Twitter have turned into—an isolated online community of spammers and advertisers. Watch out Facebook; you’re heading in the same direction too.
The concept of using real names also adds the benefit of making it easier for people to find you because after all, isn’t that the point for signing up to a social network? If you plan on using a fake name just so people can’t find you, why even join at all?
All of the weekend banning has caused quite a stir in the social network community and some users are outraged that their legitimate accounts have been banned. Google+’s VP Bradley Horowitz says that the previous naming policy is under review and in the meantime, offending accounts will no longer be banned outright, but will receive a warning. Should that warning not be heeded, the account will disappear. Make note that this “banning” will only occur on the Google+ service and will not affect that individual’s Gmail account or any other Google services he or she may have.
For those of you who use Google+ but have a legitimate nickname or other name that people can search you by, you can add these names right into your account. When editing, locate the section called “Other names” and enter them as needed.
The controversy continues while Google decides the fate of this naming policy—some users feel that it’s too rigid because they wish to use their Google+ account to be found on the Internet by other Internet users and they might not be known by their real name online.
My two cents
This issue is not one of privacy. If anyone feels that it is, they should not be on Google+. While you’re at it, delete your Facebook profile too. If you sign up for these services, expect people to find you, expect people to search for you and then expect people to add you as a friend. For all of you who sign up for a public profile just to go and make it private and then complain when something like this happens, get offline. The reason I agree with Google’s naming policy is because it allows the rest of us to keep our reputations of being real while adding some value to the community.
I have no problem with my name being out there because I control everything I put on the Internet. If I don’t want someone to see a photo of mine, I don’t upload it. I say to Google, keep up the good work and rid your service of the spammers and advertisers. Let’s just hope some other online services will follow suit.