Google+ unveils identity verification service

Social network rolls out badges that indicate a user's profile as officially verified, but feature is for now limited only to public figures and celebrities.

Google+ has started rolling out verification badges to certify profiles of public figures, celebrities and people who have been added to a large number of circles, with the feature expected to be eventually available to more on the social network.

In an Aug. 20 blog post, Google employee Yu Wen-Ai said the decision for implementing the verification badges on Google+ was so users "can be sure the person you're adding to a circle is who they claim to be".

When a Google+ profile is verified, users can see a verification badge, basically a grey checkmark, next to the profile's name.

"This will help you easily determine which profiles are owned by real, verified people," said Yu in the post.

For now, Google+ is focused on verifying "public figures, celebrities, and people who have been added to a large number of circles", referring to the network clusters of a user. But Yu added that the company would expand this feature to include more users in the future.

Yu, however, did not explain the verification process or how Google+ users can apply for their profiles to be verified.

The introduction of identity verification is the latest step Google is taking in building a social network with as little anonymity or impersonation as possible, following the launch of Google+ in June.

However, debate has been growing over Google+'s real-name policy. Under that policy, a Google+ user's individual real name is required, except for non-personal or corporate accounts. That said, enterprise profiles on the social network have been scaled back since July, when Google staffer Christian Oestlien wrote in a Google+ post that the company's social networking platform "at the moment is not built for the business use case".