At launch, Google+ had a weird policy of not allowing users sign up who had a very unconventional name or had an alias to protect themselves or because they were simply known by that name publicly. Well, Google is about to change that, announcing a brand new, “more inclusive naming policy” for the social network.
“With Google+, we aspire to make online sharing more like sharing in the real world. And during the Google+ signup process, we’ve asked users to select the name they commonly use in real life,” said Vice President of Product for Google+ Bradley Horowitz in the announcement.
“Since launch we’ve listened closely to community feedback on our names policy, as well as reviewed our own data regarding signup completion. The vast majority of users sail through our signup process — in fact, only about 0.1% submit name appeals.”
The large majority of name rejections appeals, according to Horowitz, was simply because of nicknames, while 20 percent preferred to use a pseudonym or another unconventional name. Another 20 percent were businesses – and that has already been solved with Pages.
Now, Google will allow nicknames and even names written in another script. These will appear alongside your ‘accepted’ name. As well, more unconventional or “abstract” names can now use the service but you’ll have to prove that it is your actual name. These can include news articles offline, scanning official documents and even proving that you have an “established identity online with a meaningful following”.
The “meaningful following” is very vague, but assume that it will be a big number. A very big number.
So, why do this now? A simple act of kindness, or a ploy to increase numbers? I say the latter since not everyone in the web speaks/writes/understands English and are more comfortable with their script, and there are some people with very unconventional names. And since it is now heavily competing against Facebook – it really needs the numbers.