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Google+ lets in nicknames, slams door on plebs' pseudonyms

Please, do tell the nice ad giant even more about yourself

By Kelly Fiveash, 24 Jan 2012

Google has very slightly tweaked its naming policy for Google+ by allowing nicknames to be displayed alongside an individual's real identity on the social network.

But the company is still largely refusing to listen to those users who want to remain anonymous on that service.

The Chocolate Factory's product veep Bradley Horowitz claimed that the ad broker was moving "toward a more inclusive naming policy for Google+" by allowing people to add nicknames to their accounts.

However, the minor change continues to block out many users who want to sign into the network with a pseudonym.

It would seem that the addition of nicknames is intended to somewhat relax the rigidness of Google+ signups. And the timing of the tweak is hardly surprising, given that it comes after the company began slotting "social results" directly into its search engine.

Horowitz reckoned that the "vast majority of users sail through" the process for creating new accounts for Google products.

He claimed that "only about 0.1 per cent [of the internet giant's userbase] submit name appeals."

The Google wonk said that 60 per cent of those users want the ability to add nicknames. Another 20 per cent try to set up Google profiles as a business page. The final 20 per cent want to - as Horowitz puts it - "use a pseudonym or another unconventional name".

That final bunch of users are continuing to be ignored by Google, unless they can prove that their pseudonymous ID is well known.

"Today we’re pleased to be launching features that will address and remedy the majority of these issues. To be clear - our work here isn’t done, but I’m really pleased to be shipping a milestone on our journey," Horowitz added.

His comments are unlikely to silence the critics who oppose Google's stiff naming policy, however.

Users on Google+ can now clumsily add nicknames to be displayed alongside their real identity.

Sadly, my passport does NOT state Vulture in the middle of my name

Horowitz added that "established pseudonyms" such as +trench coat and +Madonna would be supported on Google+.

Google will, of course, police who can use which ID, however.

"If we flag the name you intend to use, you can provide us with information to help confirm your established identity," Horowitz said, who also pointed to an article on Google's support forum.

He added that Google wants proof of that ID being referenced "offline in print media", or via "scanned official documentation" such as a passport or driving licence. "An established identity online with a meaningful following" will also be granted a special pass from the Chocolate Factory. ®

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