Google Plus drops "Real Names" policy

After years of criticism, Google Plus has finally dropped its controversial, Facebook-alike "Real Names" policy.

No longer will the company have to adjudicate whether your name is a real name, whether stalking survivors and human rights campaigners should have to put their safety in jeopardy to use the core Google services into which G+ has been wedged (for several years, googlers' annual bonuses were based in part on the success of G+, causing it to be shoehorned into Google in every conceivable, obnoxious way).

The policy change is a huge climbdown, after the top execs at Google told anyone who disagreed to go fuck themselves, and refused to engage with substantive arguments about the difficulty inherent in names. It's nice that the company is finally listening to the chorous of experts who've been appalled by the policy, though they don't say much about why they've made the change:

We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be. Thank you for expressing your opinions so passionately, and thanks for continuing to make Google+ the thoughtful community that it is.

Today, we are taking the last step: there are no more restrictions on what name you can use. (via /.)

(Image: Anonymous va a los Goya, Enrique Dans, CC-BY)

Notable Replies

  1. After all this time, I still do not understand - can somebody explain? What if your name is Jim Smith? Are you forced to use jimsmith37265? And what if you say your name is Professor Bebe Helicopter? Do they actually send a team to search for the real, long-form birth certificate?

  2. I think the damage to the brand is already done. I know I'm not going to forget all the times YouTube started asking me for my real name over and over and over again after Google borged it.

  3. I'll be honest, I'm still not seeing the appeal for signing up for an "identity service", which is what G+ has always been advertised as.

    I've been pushed by them to use it over and over again for years (and I'm sure I have at least three accounts, since it loves to helpfully make them for you with no option to not do so), but I still don't see a single reason why I would want to use it. I actually even seriously tried at one point to give it a go and I just don't... get the point? Aside from providing Google with data to sell, I don't have any idea what the service is supposed to actually do for me. There is no aspect of my life that would benefit from doing anything on Google+, best as I've ever been able to figure out.

    And they've been so insistent anyway that I think I'll probably be a "hater" forever. Maybe they should have tried convincing me to use or even explaining to me why I would want to instead of forcing me to (and then kicking me off for my real name not being real enough). The bad taste in my mouth isn't going away any time soon, that's for sure.

  4. There are videos on YouTube that don't attract trolls?

  5. Yeah, now that you already killed all the momentum and nobody cares any more. Nicely done, guys. Your complete lack of understanding of hu-man e-mo-tion from your aspie ivory tower where you thought forcing your users to comply with your bullshit theories of hu-man be-ha-vi-or would improve youtube comments is just breathtaking.

    The stupidest part is that all the trolls and other bad actors just created multiple fake accounts and happily posted away. It was the people they actually wanted on the service who were legitimately afraid of losing access to their Google account (there goes your gmail and android!) and just bailed out instead.

    And now they can't be bothered to come back.

    (Yeah, I know it has a few active legit communities, like photography - which they've talked about spinning off).

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