Google+'s account suspension compromise

Summary:After deleting or suspending Google+ users who it believed were not using their real names, Google has revealed plans to incorporate pseudonyms into the fledgling social network site.

After deleting or suspending Google+ users who it believed were not using their real names, Google has revealed plans to incorporate pseudonyms into the fledgling social network site.

ZDNet Australia's sister site in the United States reported over the weekend that Google+ had suspended or deleted a number of users that weren't using their "real names" on the social networking site, including businesses with their own Google+ profile. Users reported that Google told them that by not using their real names on their Google+ account, they had breached the terms of service of Google+. Some users even reported that their entire Google account, including Gmail, calendar and Docs were all suspended as a result of using a pseudonym.

More high-profile users, such as Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, were able to have their own accounts restored after lodging complaints with Google; however, others have reportedly been less successful in getting Google to reactivate their Google+ accounts.

In protest of the mass account deletion, some users who had been using their real names switched to pseudonyms.

Speaking to tech blogger Robert Scoble yesterday, Google's vice president Social Vic Gundotra indicated that the account suspension process was about removing people who spell their names in weird ways, "like using upside-down characters", or are obviously fake. Gundotra said that the company was still learning, and would seek to better communicate the issues with users.

Google+ will also implement a feature to allow the site to handle pseudonyms; however, this will take a while to bring on, Gundotra told Scoble.

While the company may allow pseudonyms, real names will still be required. In a Google+ post in response to Scoble and Gundotra's conversation, Google+ vice president of product Bradley Horowitz did not step back from the policy banning people from using anything other than their real names, but did flag changes to the company's notification process.

"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," he said. "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."

Google+ will warn users when their account is in violation of its policy, and tell users how they can edit their name to "conform to [Google+]'s community standards". The site will also begin to allow users to display a nickname in the "other names" section of the Google+ profile.

Horowitz said that contrary to user reports, Google users whose Google+ profiles were suspended would still be able to access other Google services such as Gmail.

Locally, Telstra was one of the first major companies to establish a Google+ profile; however, shortly after creation, the profile was deleted. Google+ is apparently working on allowing companies and organisations to play a role in the social network later this year, and while some organisations have found their accounts suspended, a search for popular product names will also yield other results that go against the Google+ names policy.

Topics: Google, Privacy, Security

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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