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.”

Related stories:

Google Plus launches verified accounts

Google Plus relaxing real name policy

Salman Rushdie wins name tiff with Facebook

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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