Google revises Google+ real name management policy

Google revises Google+ real name management policy

Summary: Google, in response to the backlash from users over its Google+ name policies, is revising how it handles violations of its naming policies.

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Over the weekend, Google annoyed numerous one-time Google+ users by blowing away their accounts because they'd broken Google's name restrictions. That went over well. As I asked at the time, “What was Google thinking!?Google's senior VP of social, Vic Gundotra, explained Google's logic for insisting on real names, as an attempt to set a positive tone, "like when a restaurant doesn't allow people who aren't wearing shirts to enter." Now, Bradley Horowitz, Google's VP of Google+, stated on a Google+ post that Google will be changing its naming policies “as soon as possible. We’ve already improved our process, and the changes below should arrive in a matter of weeks.”

First, Horowitz apologized for how Google had been handling many of its Google+ users' choice of names. “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. 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.“

Specifically, Google will give:

users a warning and a chance to correct their name in advance of any suspension. (Of course whenever we review a profile, if we determine that the account is violating other policies like spam or abuse we’ll suspend the account immediately.)

- At time of this notice, a clear indication of how the user can edit their name to conform to our community standards

- Better expectation setting as to next steps and timeframes for users that are engaged in this process.

Looking ahead Horowitz states that Google will be “looking at ways to improve the signup process to reduce the likelihood that users get themselves into a state that will later result in review.”

In addition, Google “noticed that some people are using their profile name to show-off nicknames, maiden names and personal descriptions. While the profile name doesn’t accommodate this, we want to support your friends finding you by these alternate names and give you a prominent way of displaying this info in Google+. Here are two features in particular that facilitate this kind of self-expression:”

If you add nicknames, maiden names, etc. to the "Other names" portion of your G+ profile, those with permission to view those fields can search for you using that term. For example: some of my colleagues call me "elatable," a pseudonym I’ve used on many services, so I've added it to my list of other names.

The "Employment," “Occupation” and “Education” fields in your profile can appear in your hovercard all across Google+ -- to those with permission to view them. This also helps other users find and identify you. In my case "Google+" appears in my hovercard, but I'm already seeing lots of creative uses of this real estate.

These changes don't go far enough for some users. ZDNet's own Violet Blue, for example, observes that “pseudonyms are still an account violation, there is no explanation about policy regarding exceptions being made for certain celebrities, but he has made a few clarifications that are important.”

From where Blue sits “It's mostly about 'giving people a chance to correct' what Google determines as a name violation. Open question: is this helpful?”

Horowitz went on to dismiss what he calls two myths. The first is that Google doesn't care about one or the other groups of people, such as businesses. He states that is not true. Instead, he states that “While this may appear as easy as the stroke of a policy pen (“Just let the businesses in!”), we think we can do better. We’re designing features for different use cases that we think will make a better product experience both for them and for everyone else. Please don’t misconstrue the product as it exists today (< 4 weeks since entering Field Trial) as the 'end state.'”

Finally, Horowitz wrote, that it is a myth that “Not abiding by the Google+ common name policy can lead to wholesale suspension of one’s entire Google account.”

He explained, “When an account is suspended for violating the Google+ common name standards, access to Gmail or other products that don’t require a Google+ profile are not removed. Please help get the word out: if your Google+ Profile is suspended for not using a common name, you won't be able to use Google services that require a Google+ Profile, but you'll still be able to use Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, and so on. (Of course there are other Google-wide policies (e.g. egregious spamming, illegal activity, etc) that do apply to all Google products, and violations of these policies could in fact lead to a Google-wide suspension.)”

As Blue points out though, losing your Google Profile, which goes if you lose your Google+ name, “you lose access to Reader and do not have Data Portability - you lose your G+ data and posts.,”

Even so, I think that this is a good start. I know some people, like Blue, don't feel that Google has gone far enough. Personally, I'm giving Google the benefit of the doubt. For example, I trust that Google isn't deleting people's information along with access to their Google+ accounts when the accounts are first set aside for a name violation.

In any case, for all that Google has been ham-handed with the names, I think it's good to keep in mind that Google+ is still in beta and, at only about four-weeks old, early beta at that. Even with over 10-million users, Google+ is just getting started. Mistakes with management, as well as technology, could only be expected.

Finally, I'd encourage the powers that be at Google+ to look closely at Eric “ESR” Raymond's suggestion of adding “a form to apply for an alias. Once the alias is registered, it would become usable as a + reference and discoverable by name search. Limit of three per customer to prevent spamming of the namespace. Raymond, one of the founders of open source, makes a good case for this approach to handle “corner cases that can be solved at low cost first, and deferring the tougher ones until we can use that experience to revise our evaluations of cost/benefit.” It's not perfect, but he doesn't claim that it is, and in the meantime, it would make a workable approach for dealing with nicknames and the like.

Related Stories:

Four Things Google Plus Could Do To Fix Google Plus

Why must Google insist on learning customer service lessons the hard way?

What was Google thinking!?

Google Plus Deleting Accounts En Masse: No Clear Answers

Topics: Social Enterprise, Apps, Google

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175 comments
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  • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

    The name is [Y?sl?y Y?s?ff ?m?] ... Would you delete it G+? Yes, I'm looking@you!
    emwai8zee@...
    • Block the users from the offending service Google+ not their account!

      Google Dont Delete ALL their Info. Block them away from Google+ not all the rest of your services!<br><br>This move by Google will make a lot of users look at Apple's wall Garden and Google will be shooting Android in the foot.<br><br>You are playing with fire here.<br><br>If someone (my self included) losses all their data for a day based on this new policy. The damage would be huge!!!.<br><br>Google, understand your policy goes against freedom which you stand for on Android. This move resembles Apples kingdom. Under that circumstance Google and Android have a lot to lose!

      Google stands for choice... what choice do we have here.

      Google+ has no benefit that I am interested in! I am dropping it now!
      Uralbas
      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

        @hotelsudtirol
        we see google+ votes is one of the top social stuff but here is also many site like that gplusvotes.com now its time to see their activities and how much they will satisfy us with their performance. will come here to see your reply, thanks.

        Sarah
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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

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    • Google+ is useless

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  • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

    I for one am happy about their policy. I have to admit that 20% of my Facebook friends changed their names to something entirely random and it's annoying for me to have sit there and question, "Who is McSwagger Jones?" click their profile and realize it's my brother.

    Businesses have no business in G+ yet. They can already spam the masses via Twitter and Facebook. It's inane that businesses are complaining that Google wants them to wait. Until Google actually creates something that offers them a new feature, I see no point.
    markacianfrani
    • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

      @markacianfrani
      If its your brother why didnt you just call him and ask for his facebook id. Ive been on the internet since before Al Gore invented it and have found a low profile is the best way to go. Paying bills on line since 1978, and no idenity theft or evil software because i will not give my personal information to anyone online in a social environment. If you want to post all of your personal info on line, help yourself, but I will not be forced to. The basic reason I refuse to use anything Google.
      rolnmrbl@...
      • It's About Time !

        @rolnmrbl@... Finally, the voice of considered reason !
        FichenDich
      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

        @rolnmrbl@...
        Agreed! It is nobody's business what my name is. I am not joining Facebook or Google+ to create some gold mine database for companies to abuse. I'm joining to put up silly pictures of friends and share amusing links with MY friends.

        I can find my friends and they can find me, simple as that.
        DMNDS4YOU
      • RE: Google revises Google real name management policy

        @rolnmrbl@... I fail to believe more than ten words of anything you said. (if that)
        blueskip