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The Google+ Identity Service Project

Danny Goodwin
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How does Google justify its real name policy? Well, Google+ was built primarily as an identity service and will be used to help Google build future products, Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt said at the Edinburgh International TV Festival.

In a Google+ post, NPR’s Andy Carvin, summarized the former CEO’s response to a question about Google’s real name policy:

He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.

Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government's own policies… He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

Response to Schmidt

Venture capitalist Fred Wilson responded to Schmidt’s comments in a blog post, writing “It begs the question of whom Google built this service for? You or them. And the answer to why you need to use your real name in the service is because they need you to.”

John Battelle also commented, “I must say, this whole debate will seem quaint in a few years. What matters is trust. A name does not always equate with trust. Identity is more than a name.”

Google's Name Policy 'Not For Everyone'

The Google+ project launched, promising “real-life sharing, rethought for the web,” and has delivered and seen amazing growth early, but Google’s stance on real names and pseudonyms hasn’t sat well with many. Google’s strict policies resulted in accounts being banned without warning and forced Vic Gundotra to defend Google’s stance – Google later decided to give users four days warning before a suspension.

Google has pushed Google+ integration since launch. Google+ has added Facebook-like sharing, public posts now appear in search results, and Gmail integration is beginning. Not to mention Google completely overhauled the look of all its project to match Google+.

Despite this huge push, Google admits their name policy “may not be for everyone at this time.” According to Google, the guidelines for avoiding an account suspension include:

  • Using your full first and last name in a single language.
  • Put nicknames or pseudonyms in the Other Names field.
  • Avoid unusual characters in your name.
  • Your profile and name must represent one individual.
  • Don't use the name of another individual.

If your profile is suspended, you lose “full use of Google services that require an active profile” (e.g., Google+, Buzz, Reader, and Picasa). You won’t lose access to Gmail. To regain access, you have to edit your name to Google’s liking and submit an appeal.


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