Google updates social-networking name policy

January 24, 2012

Google made a change to its name policy on Google+, allowing users to add nicknames and pseudonyms to their personal pages.

According to a Google+ post from Google product vice president Bradley Horowitz, the social network has relaxed its policy requiring users to use their real, legal name on their Google+ accounts.

Horowitz said users applying for appeals over naming problems on Google+ tend to fall into three distinct categories: those who want to add a nickname, businesses that are inadvertently applying for a personal — rather than commercial — page, and those wishing to use a “pseudonym or other unconventional name.”

Starting Monday, Horowitz said, the network will begin rolling out changes that support nicknames, alternate names such as maiden names, as well as Google+ names in other scripts.

For nicknames that may be flagged by Google’s screening — the post specifically mentions +trench coat or +Madonna — the company will reach out to you to verify the name through scanned official documents or proof of an online following for that name.

The changes, Horowitz said, are a “small step towards improving the ways in which you can communicate your identity on Google+. We will be listening to feedback from the community and will continue to refine all aspects of how we handle names and identity over the coming weeks, months and beyond.”

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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