Google VP responds to Google+ name rules criticism

After a disconcerting amount of Google+ users were kicked from the infant social network last week over enforcement of the “real name” rule, many are worried that the seemingly draconian measures taken to ensure that people aren’t hiding behind pseudonyms is a potentially fatal step for the initially popular Google+. In a nutshell, there’s a help article in the Google+ help section that clearly defines what can and can’t be used as your profile name. The policy is pretty narrow as to what your name is allowed to be, and it’s obviously trying to force Google+ profiles to represent one real person, and not a nickname, pseudonym or group. If your account is in violation of these terms, it will be suspended. If the account is deemed to be violating the Google Terms of Service (and there hasn’t been a clear explanation of how the overall Google TOS applies to Google+ plus, and which content on your page you are responsible for), you could be banned from all Google services, according to ZDNet.

Needless to say, plenty of people have perfectly valid reasons for keeping their names private on a social network. The problem is compounded by the fact that Google has been banning accounts without warning, and aren’t being 100% consistent in who they’re banning.

Vic Gundotra, VP at Google, has spoken out to Robert Scoble on Google+ about the problem, and while he doesn’t deny the problems they’re creating, he doesn’t seem too worried about it. He claims that the naming rules are there for a reason and are meant to be positive, "like when a restaurant doesn't allow people who aren't wearing shirts to enter." While the rules themselves may not change, Gundotra promised that Google is working on better ways to communicate these kinds of issues to the users. That may be a consolation to those who believe their accounts were suspended unjustly, but Google seems pretty set on keeping it real, so to speak.

This marks the first big privacy hurdle that the new network has faced, and the two week old phenom needs to do some serious damage control before things get out of hand, and that staggering growth rate begins to falter.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Game industry group wants over $1 million in legal fees in California case

Next Story

AT&T preparing for iPhone 5 launch in September

46 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I actually agree with Google on this one.
Don't sign up for a social networking site if you aren't going to use it for it's intended purpose, or follow the t&c's.

If you have a social networking account for any site, the majority of the time it's there to communicate with people that know you, so the real name makes sense. Google are enforcing this stance and I think it's great.

I use my real name on my Facebook. When I had MySpace & Bebo (ack!!), I also used my real name as do most other people.

I do however disagree that they do not notify the people with warning or aren't being consistent which this article also states.
At least Google have better support than Facebook, which is another win. Maybe this will force Facebook to open their eyes and provide a bit of customer service to their clients.

I guess new Google+ users that do not have a gmail account are not eligible for identity/name problems, unless they grab one of a celebrity. When you have thousands of emails with many concerning "John Doe" and that you stipulate "Francis Azerty" in your Google profile, you may be leading to forbidden contradictions. I mean, how otherwise could anyone know what your name is not ?

They want you to put your real info so they can data mine you. I use an online profile to dish out my online status (art, music, creations etc) as a means of fun. I don't want some goons from the Al-CIA-Duh coming to my door because they didn't like my anti-NWO opinions. My info is private for a reason, but I want to be able to communicate with online pals and share my "goods" with the public too.

Izlude said,
They want you to put your real info so they can data mine you. I use an online profile to dish out my online status (art, music, creations etc) as a means of fun. I don't want some goons from the Al-CIA-Duh coming to my door because they didn't like my anti-NWO opinions. My info is private for a reason, but I want to be able to communicate with online pals and share my "goods" with the public too.

Looks like Google+ isn't for you then.

Izlude said,
They want you to put your real info so they can data mine you. I use an online profile to dish out my online status (art, music, creations etc) as a means of fun. I don't want some goons from the Al-CIA-Duh coming to my door because they didn't like my anti-NWO opinions. My info is private for a reason, but I want to be able to communicate with online pals and share my "goods" with the public too.

Social networks like Facebook and G+ are not a viable means for sharing your goods with the greater public, as they are meant to actually hold your info for your friends to be able to find you. You should be using your account controls to lock access to your info down so that only those you approve of can see your info. Your crafts should have other venues for their distribution, where you can then promote them via Facebook, G+, Twitter etc

Sraf said,

Social networks like Facebook and G+ are not a viable means for sharing your goods with the greater public, as they are meant to actually hold your info for your friends to be able to find you. You should be using your account controls to lock access to your info down so that only those you approve of can see your info. Your crafts should have other venues for their distribution, where you can then promote them via Facebook, G+, Twitter etc

100% wrong. You just.. don't get it do you... you don't...

Izlude said,

100% wrong. You just.. don't get it do you... you don't...

+1 i hate when people try to sound smart, only to make themselves look more foolish xD Public is public.

Izlude said,

100% wrong. You just.. don't get it do you... you don't...


You want to be able to run in the middle a busy mall yelling whatever you like but only your friends should be able to hear you. When you yell something that someone may take offence to you rather they didn't listen rather than for you to use tools available to only subject your friends to your thoughts ie. invite them to your home.

Izlude said,
They want you to put your real info so they can data mine you. I use an online profile to dish out my online status (art, music, creations etc) as a means of fun. I don't want some goons from the Al-CIA-Duh coming to my door because they didn't like my anti-NWO opinions. My info is private for a reason, but I want to be able to communicate with online pals and share my "goods" with the public too.

I imagine in the long run a real life profile is worth a lot more than a made up one. Money makes the world go round and don't mistake Google for thinking anything but money. I imagine they wouldn't mind becoming the Internet ID standard if things go that way. I know who the Governments would like to snuggle up with, the ones who have the real info.

Outside of tinfoil hat land, if you don't agree with it, simple solution, don't use it.

Izlude said,

100% wrong. You just.. don't get it do you... you don't...

Wait, I'm wrong because I told you that how these networks are intended to be used is not the way you want to use them. How does their MO not fitting with your MO make me wrong? At any rate, there is a simple solution to your problem, hinted in my earlier post, and posted by Xenosion: Don't use it if it does not work the way you want it to

Izlude said,
They want you to put your real info so they can data mine you. I use an online profile to dish out my online status (art, music, creations etc) as a means of fun. I don't want some goons from the Al-CIA-Duh coming to my door because they didn't like my anti-NWO opinions. My info is private for a reason, but I want to be able to communicate with online pals and share my "goods" with the public too.

Then either pick a different medium or USE A FAKE NAME THAT SOUNDS REAL.

This isn't rocket science guys.

If your real name is Jim Smith and you make your Google+ name Jared Thomas, you won't get deleted...

Izlude said,
I don't want some goons from the Al-CIA-Duh coming to my door because they didn't like my anti-NWO opinions.

Your ego is way too big. Do you actually think any government agency cares about a worthless individual like yourself? Stop flattering yourself please.

Izlude said,
They want you to put your real info so they can data mine you. ...
Absolutely right but I thought Google would have waited a little longer before being so transparent about it. I guess only time will tell how much damage this will do to its long term growth.

Computer Professor said,

Your ego is way too big. Do you actually think any government agency cares about a worthless individual like yourself? Stop flattering yourself please.
Yes professor.

"Needless to say, plenty of people have perfectly valid reasons for keeping their names private on a social network"

Then they should stay off social networks or learn how to use the privacy controls. You cant look up my facebook or google+ profiles on any search. The only way to find my profiles is to be a friend of a friend (i can change that also) or if i give you a link to my profile.

Stupid rule... If people want a nickname, let them use a f*cking nickname! A nickname will not hurt anyone. It's even useful for people to show their humour. Now, how Google knows my real name? What if I use somebody else's name? They will never know.
This rule (and the stupid Google reaction) can make people think twice before leaving Facebook.

Aghares said,
Stupid rule... If people want a nickname, let them use a f*cking nickname! A nickname will not hurt anyone. It's even useful for people to show their humour. Now, how Google knows my real name? What if I use somebody else's name? They will never know.
This rule (and the stupid Google reaction) can make people think twice before leaving Facebook.

there's a space to write your username on Google+ write it there...
They don't know your real name they just don't want to have people creating account for their dogs...

Google should be giving their users a 7 or 14 day period (after the warning email) to give them a chance to change their names instead of deleting them outright. Not everybody reads the ToS.

Salty Wagyu said,
Google should be giving their users a 7 or 14 day period (after the warning email) to give them a chance to change their names instead of deleting them outright. Not everybody reads the ToS.

While I agree that the users should be given a warning and a time frame to fix the issue before being cut from the service, I must point out that ignorance of the law is no excuse when committing a crime. Likewise, ignorance of the terms in a contract is no excuse when one is in breach of that contract

Because this WILL be a new take on the words "Crime Ring"..

People don't say what they want to say in Facebook, because everyone can see it, and it's a pain for normal users to set things up correctly. So this will allow them to make chat channels "circles" to say whatever they wish. I work in a school dist., this will be crazy.

The banned-from-ALL-services part makes no sense. Banned from G+ ... sure, whatever, the rules are whatever they are. But, also banned from GMail as a result? Huh?

smot said,
The banned-from-ALL-services part makes no sense. Banned from G+ ... sure, whatever, the rules are whatever they are. But, also banned from GMail as a result? Huh?

The "Banned from all services" does not pertain to using a fake name, it pertains to breaking the Google account TOS, which is shared on all services that Google offers where you have to sign up to use them. For example, there was a kid who was banned from his Gmail and other accounts after he posted his age on G+. He was under 13, which is limited by the TOS, and by law in the US

smot said,
The banned-from-ALL-services part makes no sense. Banned from G+ ... sure, whatever, the rules are whatever they are. But, also banned from GMail as a result? Huh?

Not true. Matt Cutts "Just to repeat: if your profile is suspended for not having a real/common name, you won't have access to products that use the Google profile (Google+/Buzz/+1), but you will still have access to Gmail, Docs, Calendar, Blogger, etc."

As soon as I read this yesterday, I immediately cancelled my Google+ account and will not be returning.

Should they move this to g-mail also, the same will occur there.

Elven said,
As soon as I read this yesterday, I immediately cancelled my Google+ account and will not be returning.

Should they move this to g-mail also, the same will occur there.

What would make you think Google would force this on gmail?

Elven said,
As soon as I read this yesterday, I immediately cancelled my Google+ account and will not be returning.

Should they move this to g-mail also, the same will occur there.

it is with gmail. if your google+ gets suspended, all services go out the window including gmail.

Izlude said,

it is with gmail. if your google+ gets suspended, all services go out the window including gmail.

that's not what the 'help' says. and unlike google+, entities other than individual people can have gmail accounts. though I think ive read people saying they had their gmail's canceled

This whole thing really isn't a big deal I don't think. Use your real names people not some 1337 internet nickname. It's meant to be for accountable people to communicate.

What this does bring into light is Google's very apparent lack of communication. I don't necessarily blame them; they are very large and keeping communication open between departments is hard enough let alone fluidly to customers/consumers. No one else as large really does any better.

Xenosion said,
Use your real names people not some 1337 internet nickname.

Xenosion says this, but he fails to produce a valid birth certificate to prove his real name is Xension. Without a long form birth certificate, "Xenosion" shouldn't be eligible to post on Neowin, Google+, or anywhere else on the internet.

Xenosion said,
This whole thing really isn't a big deal I don't think. Use your real names people not some 1337 internet nickname. It's meant to be for accountable people to communicate.

What this does bring into light is Google's very apparent lack of communication. I don't necessarily blame them; they are very large and keeping communication open between departments is hard enough let alone fluidly to customers/consumers. No one else as large really does any better.

I don't want people to find me.

Canceled my G+ account yesterday.

wins thread said,

Xenosion says this, but he fails to produce a valid birth certificate to prove his real name is Xension. Without a long form birth certificate, "Xenosion" shouldn't be eligible to post on Neowin, Google+, or anywhere else on the internet.

I would venture to guess you prefer to take to take what people say out of context. It is quite obvious that I am talking about Google+. My Facebook account is my real name. Further.. birth certificate? You a birther?

Xenosion said,

I would venture to guess you prefer to take to take what people say out of context. It is quite obvious that I am talking about Google+. My Facebook account is my real name. Further.. birth certificate? You a birther?

Well where is your long form birth certificate. If Neowin changed its policies, would you give Neowin you birth certificate? What about Facebook? What about every other site that needs a login?

You allow one ******* like Google to get away with this and others will jump on it.

Xenosion said,
This whole thing really isn't a big deal I don't think. Use your real names people not some 1337 internet nickname. It's meant to be for accountable people to communicate.

What this does bring into light is Google's very apparent lack of communication. I don't necessarily blame them; they are very large and keeping communication open between departments is hard enough let alone fluidly to customers/consumers. No one else as large really does any better.

What if it's one of those nick names that all your friends call you by, and you're unaware of this? Getting your account suspended is stupid.

Jebadiah said,

Well where is your long form birth certificate. If Neowin changed its policies, would you give Neowin you birth certificate? What about Facebook? What about every other site that needs a login?

You allow one ******* like Google to get away with this and others will jump on it.


I use my real name on Facebook. Facebook does not ask for a birth certificate. The notion of this birth certificate requirement is pretty ridiculous.

If Neowin started requiring a real name, I would use mine. But only after it was a requirement because that would mean the ones I would be most cautious of knowing such information would have already been weeded out.

Again, I have no problem using my real name on Facebook with proper privacy settings in place.

Panda X said,

What if it's one of those nick names that all your friends call you by, and you're unaware of this? Getting your account suspended is stupid.


T.
O.
S.
Don't like it, don't use it. If many side with you then Google+ will surely fail and you have nothing to fear.

Xenosion said,

I use my real name on Facebook. Facebook does not ask for a birth certificate. The notion of this birth certificate requirement is pretty ridiculous.

If Neowin started requiring a real name, I would use mine. But only after it was a requirement because that would mean the ones I would be most cautious of knowing such information would have already been weeded out.

Again, I have no problem using my real name on Facebook with proper privacy settings in place.

T.
O.
S.
Don't like it, don't use it. If many side with you then Google+ will surely fail and you have nothing to fear.

How else can anybody verify your real name when in doubt? How do you know that Google won't start doubting everyone in a year or two when they have some 200 million users?

Look at it this way. You go to a shop and ask for a discount. The shop keeper gives you one. Now the guy next to you also wants a discount. How can the shopkeeper deny him? He is going to lose a customer and several others if there is a commotion.

In our case, Google is the customer, and you are the shopkeeper of your info. Your information us valuable to Google. They are asking you for a discount and you are giving it to them no questions asked. Why would any other customer not want to be like Google?

This whole fad called social networks in their current form is going to blow up in our faces because people like you fail to understand the long term implications of what you are doing.

Xenosion said,

There's a setting for that.

Where? Because I can type my full name + Google+ and hit search, and there I an in the #1 spot Google Profile, and I made my setting to where people can't search for me.

FoxieFoxie said,
I don't want people to find me.
Canceled my G+ account yesterday.
I find myself having quite a bit to say on the comments here, but this one kept pulling me back.

You want to be part of a social networking site, but you don't want to be found? That sounds like quite a contradiction.

I might be able to understand where you're coming from if you said that you don't want random strangers to find you. But there is a setting in Google+ so that you can't be found unless you want to. Believe me, I had the hardest time the other day trying to get a friend of mine to find me, only because of the lengths I've gone to trying to keep my profile as quiet as possible to the general public.

Jebadiah said,

How else can anybody verify your real name when in doubt? How do you know that Google won't start doubting everyone in a year or two when they have some 200 million users?

Look at it this way. You go to a shop and ask for a discount. The shop keeper gives you one. Now the guy next to you also wants a discount. How can the shopkeeper deny him? He is going to lose a customer and several others if there is a commotion.

In our case, Google is the customer, and you are the shopkeeper of your info. Your information us valuable to Google. They are asking you for a discount and you are giving it to them no questions asked. Why would any other customer not want to be like Google?

This whole fad called social networks in their current form is going to blow up in our faces because people like you fail to understand the long term implications of what you are doing.


Jesus Christ, really? You act this is the first time any company has asked for such information and people have been gladly giving it away! Google is only doing what the industry standard is at this point, only a little further by "requiring" a real name. But guess what, there is no proof being asked for. The only thing they don't want is people using obvious aliases and psuedonyms

It is their network and they can do and require whatever they think will create the community they want. If a majority of people do not like the way Google are going about their network then it will fail. In all honesty though, it isn't much different than Facebook and in some ways it's even better.

Xenosion said,

Jesus Christ, really? You act this is the first time any company has asked for such information and people have been gladly giving it away! Google is only doing what the industry standard is at this point, only a little further by "requiring" a real name. But guess what, there is no proof being asked for. The only thing they don't want is people using obvious aliases and psuedonyms

It is their network and they can do and require whatever they think will create the community they want. If a majority of people do not like the way Google are going about their network then it will fail. In all honesty though, it isn't much different than Facebook and in some ways it's even better.


Nobody is denying that they have the right to ask for a discount based in my above analogy. I am saying you are not applying your own power to deny ****ers like Google from getting away with it. Facebook and Twitter already ask you to verify who you are with official documents. Who are you to say that Google won't do the same when they have enough users?

As someone said "the road to hell is paved with good intentions.".

Jebadiah said,

Nobody is denying that they have the right to ask for a discount based in my above analogy. I am saying you are not applying your own power to deny ****ers like Google from getting away with it. Facebook and Twitter already ask you to verify who you are with official documents. Who are you to say that Google won't do the same when they have enough users?

As someone said "the road to hell is paved with good intentions.".


I'm pretty sure I addressed exactly that by saying Google is only doing what is the industry standard at this point. If you want to get butt hurt about the issue, you should have before now. If you did and your argument was lost at that time then it's simply time to move on, not blame Google for doing what is now the normal.

By the way, it's still just my name. My name that I already give to Facebook - a product that is a choice same as Google.

Xenosion said,

I'm pretty sure I addressed exactly that by saying Google is only doing what is the industry standard at this point.

And again, I repeat, "Past good/bad performance does not moderate a future bad/good performance.".

Xenosion said,

If you want to get butt hurt about the issue, you should have before now.

Are you new here? LOL

Xenosion said,
If you did and your argument was lost at that time then it's simply time to move on, not blame Google for doing what is now the normal.

"Normal" does not make anything right. If raping people was "normal", would that be ok?

Xenosion said,

By the way, it's still just my name. My name that I already give to Facebook - a product that is a choice same as Google.

Again, you have a choice. Google and Facebook are taking away your choice. What part do you not understand?

Eric Schmidt maintained at the D9 conference 2 months ago that Google will never go in the direction of facial recognition and mobile tracking, which they already do. And look who they bought yesterday for the very same purpose. I can't believe how big a hole you're all digging right now for everybody. http://allthingsd.com/20110621...-interview-video/?refcat=d9

Edited by Jebadiah, Jul 26 2011, 5:56am :

Jebadiah said,
Actually, here's the link with Eric actually talking about it: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/tec...l-recognition-database.html Who's crossing the creepy line now? Secretly crossing the line is worse than publicly crossing the line.

Out of all your ramblings you still haven't given an example of something bad that could happen to you from giving a company like Google this type of information. Until you do I'll continue to think you're just some nut-case like 90% of the other commenters on Neowin.

@Jebadiah
This is insanity. Why is it so damn bad? Why is it that you have such a problem with this? You initially were blabbing about some stupid birth certificate. There is no reason to require a birth certificate to prove identity on a social networking site and there isn't anyone who is, have, and most likely will never require it...ever. It's a stupid fear that has you gripped.

We are talking a private company doing whatever the hell they want with their product. The people who don't like it will not sign up. We are not talking about some invasion of rights to citizens. We are talking about people having a choice to participate in something.

Again, this is nothing new. Facebook does it and the groundwork for "requiring" (again I quote because it's a weak requirement) a real name has already been in place for years. Google asking for the same is not a crime. You can not equate rape to a voluntary service. It's absurd and you are far too involved with emotions to even think straight.