Google Senior VP of Social Vic Gundotra has confirmed that the Google+ social network will "soon" be getting support for pseudonyms and "other forms of identity," Mashable is reporting.
Gundotra was cagey about how this may be implemented, but confirmed that pen names and "other forms of identity" will be "coming soon." No other specifics were offered on how this may work.
The news, which came up in conversation on stage at this week's Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco, is a complete turnaround from Google's previous policies: From its inception through the present, Google+ required users to sign up with a real name and a real photo, on penalty of account deletion. In fact, Google has been so vigilant on that front that it has an automatic search bot, suspending users it suspects of violating real name policy often without explanation.
That policy hasn't won Google any fans. Privacy buffs value the ability for social networkers to use pseudonyms, especially in situations where using a real name could result in job loss or, in extreme cases and for users in countries like Iran, a loss of life. And while Google has responded by making some minor changes, the company's executive leadership has largely taken the position of "Don't like it? Don't use it."
Now, Gundotra says that while Google+ was designed to be a community that fostered trust by using real names, he says that the team is recognizing the very valid situations in which another identity may be called for.