Google+ Adds Name Verification, Sparks Controversy

What’s in a name? Google+ sparks a debate by adding name verification to social network. In other words, no pseudonym for you.

What’s in a name? Google+ sparks a debate by adding name verification to social network. In other words, no pseudonym for you.
Google + is Google, Inc’s social networking site that launched in late June 2011. Already, the site has over 25 million users and as generating buzz with features specifically designed to counter the flaws of social networking giant Facebook. The Internet is full of Google+ updates, and social media experts are speculating about the network’s longterm success and whether or not Google+ will be Facebook’s first major competitor. However, even though most of the hyp around Google+ has been positive so far, one issue is causing debate: “real names”.

Google raised some eyebrows when it shut down user accounts of people who were using a pseudonym or nickname, making no concessions for nicknames that people go by in real life.

Skud explains on her blog: “Because I knew Google’s policies pretty well (as much as anyone can, when they’re so unclear), I knew I was at risk of my account (under the name of “Skud .”) being suspended. I prepared this page about my name gathering evidence and testimonials from people who know me primarily, or solely, as ‘Skud'” Yet, Google+ still suspended her account, and she has yet to be notified of the appropriate appeal process.

While pseudonym supporters are up in arms, Google+ is forging forward with name verification. In a post on the social network, Wen-Ai Yu, part of the Google+ team,  explains:

“Today, I’m happy to announce that we’re starting to roll out verification badges on profiles.

When you visit the profile of a celebrity or public figure, you’ll see a verification badge next to their profile name. This will help you easily determine which profiles are owned by real, verified people.

Here’s an example: In my profile on the top right, you’ll see a grey checkmark next to my name. When you mouse over it, you’ll see that this is a “verified name”.

You might be wondering how to verify your own name on Google+. For now, we’re focused on verifying public figures, celebrities, and people who have been added to a large number of Circles…but keep in mind that this is just the beginning. We’re working on expanding this to include more people in the future, so hang tight!”

Sounds like name verification for all is just around the corner, and the question becomes: is that really such a big deal? After all, social networks like Twitter also offer the opportunity to verify accounts. However, on Twitter verified accounts are mostly used for celebrities and famous figures who are at risk of social media imposters.

So, it makes sense for a celebrity, but what about for the average social media user? People like Skud – who would like to use the name they go by in real life on their social network – and those who value their privacy find the naming policy upsetting. Further, it remains unclear on how verified accounts will work for those who aren’t public figures. How useful will it to verify one Jane Smith from the other?