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.