When Google+ launched back in June, it was met with an instant backlash for its Common Names Policy, and we took a look at some of the very real dangers that face some users when they have no choice but to use their real names online.
Today Bradley Horowitz, the VP of Product on Google+, announced a huge change that is making its way to the social network – allowing the use of pseudonyms.
This is a significant change, as Google is now backtracking on a pretty firm stance and is admitting they messed this one up. Can we expect a similar change a few months down the line when it comes to social search?
In his post, Horowitz tells us that only about 0.1% of Google+’s users have submitted name appeals. It’s worth keeping in mind that this number is probably somewhat skewed since a lot of users would have submitted name appeals stayed as far away from the social network as possible.
Taking a closer look at the 0.1% who weren’t happy with the Common Names Policy, Horowitz wrote that they fall into 3 categories;
- The majority (60%) of these users want to simply add nicknames.
- About 20% of appeals are actually businesses (who are inadvertently trying to set up their business as a Profile, rather than using Google+ Pages which were intended for this purpose.)
- And the remaining 20% would either prefer to use a pseudonym or another unconventional name.
Google+ has now added support for nicknames, as well as names in other languages and script. Horowitz writes:
Over the next week, we’ll be adding support for alternate names – be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script – alongside your common name. This name will show up on your Google+ profile and in the hovercards which appear over your name. In the next few weeks, we’ll be displaying it more broadly as part of your name in other areas of Google+ as well. So if you’re Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Jane Doe (Smith), or Saurabh Sharma (सौरभ शर्मा), you can now communicate your identity the way you want to.
If this is is a feature you’ve been impatiently waiting for, once it has been made available, you can head over to Google+, click Edit Profile, select your name, hit More Options and you can add in whatever nickname you prefer to go by.
Additionally, when signing up for a Google+ account, if you’re choosing a name that would normally seem more fitting for a business or concept that belongs on a Google+ page, your submission will get flagged by an automated system.
If that happens, you’ll have to provide Google+ with a little bit more information, including:
- References to an established identity offline in print media, news articles, etc
- Scanned official documentation, such as a driver’s license
- Proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following
However, we’re not entirely sure how many circles you have to be in to have a “meaningful following.”
The vetting process should take a few days, and during that time your old name will be visible on your profile. More about the Google+ Name Policy can be found here.
Update: The title has been updated to reflect the accurate statistics released by Google+.