Google has announced a four day pseudonym grace policy on Google+, giving those not currently showing their real name on the social network the opportunity to change that, rather than see their account instantly suspended. According to Saurabh Sharma, a Google+ product manager, during that four days users will be able to interact on the site as normal; however, if they don’t add in their real name, then their account will be frozen.
“In the past when we found a profile that was not in line with our names policy we would suspend the profile and then let the user to appeal. We’re listening, learning and innovating to give our users the best experience possible. Starting today, if you find that your profile name does not adhere to our policy, we’ll give you a four day grace period to fix your profile name before we take further action. During this period, you can continue to use Google+ as usual” Saurabh Sharma, Google
The change in policy is a response to criticism Google saw of its previously draconian approach toward pseudonyms. Despite many people preferring to use different names or nicknames online, Google insists that Google+ “works best” when real names are listed; in the past, if it came across an account in which that wasn’t the case, it suspended it.
“We’re hoping that most affected users will be able to fix their profile name while continuing to enjoy all that Google+ has to offer. As always, Google believes you own your data. In the event you are unable to comply with our names policy, you can still take all your content with you, even after your profile is suspended” Saurabh Sharma, Google
The new policy is still causing controversy, however, with Google+ users complaining that the search giant hasn’t addressed the pseudonym issue, only introduced extra delay into how it is being – as they see it – incorrectly handled. Google’s approach has already put them on the radar of government privacy watchdogs, and while the company has previously suggested that official pseudonym support is on the roadmap, there’s still no public timescale – or, indeed, indication that Google believes pseudonyms have a place in Google+ – for its addition.