Google works to soothe users over real name controversy

Google+ to adjust naming policy to appease angry users

Google has heard the public outcry about its name restrictions and the way it killed off many Google+ user accounts and is working fast to fix the problem.

Many Google+ users have been up in arms over the past few days since the new social networking site cranked up its efforts to delete Google+ accounts that weren't using members' real names.

Some users are upset because they want to use a pseudonym as a privacy measure and don't want to be forced to use their real name. Others complained that they used their real names but had their accounts deleted anyway because they have non-traditional names or their names have foreign-language characters.

Google+ executives said they've heard the complaints and they are working to rectify the situation.

"We've noticed that many violations of the Google+ common name policy were in fact well-intentioned and inadvertent and for these users our process can be frustrating and disappointing," wrote Bradley Horowitz, a vice president of product management at Google, in a Google+ post. "So we're currently making a number of improvements to this process -- specifically regarding how we notify these users that they're not in compliance with Google+ policies and how we communicate the remedies available to them."

Horowitz added that in a "matter of weeks," Google+ will warn users and give them a chance to correct their names before they're suspended from the site. The site also will give users guidance on how they can change their names to meet the site's rules.

He also said Google is working on helping users come up with appropriate account names when they first sign up for the site to avoid any trouble down the road. For users who want to use nicknames or maiden names to help friends and colleagues find them on Google+, the site will offer users a way to display that information.

"These and many more changes are coming," Horowitz said. "We're flattered and appreciative of your support and interest. I assure you, teams of passionate individuals are pouring their talents and care into making this a great experience for you."

And while many users left positive comments under Horowitz's post, others were not satisfied.

"Keep up the great work. Fake names have no place on this service," wrote one user.

However, another user wrote, "Helping people to conform with policies that don't conform to the way people actually use their names (including pseudonyms) in the real world is not solving the problem - it's demonstrating that you haven't understood the problem."

Another frustrated user wrote, "What I find more interesting regarding the name debate is that those of us who have been around the online world for three decades and more were always told until recent years to NEVER EVER use your REAL name online... Several police agency websites STILL offer this advice. When did the policy change?"

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

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Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
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