Google+ Draws Heavy Criticism for Heavy-Handed ?Real Name? Policy

   on July 25 2011 5:07 PM

Google has been reported as ‘on a rampage’ of account deletions during the past few days, most of which are tied to the recent and controversial company policy of allowing only ‘real names’ on Google accounts.

In the most mild cases, access to Google+ profiles have been locked out, meaning that everything on the new social network is still viewable, but the user in question simply cannot post to it until they ‘prove their identity’ -- usually by providing a photo ID or presenting a number of documents showing that their profile name is the name that they are known by.

However, a growing number of people are reporting that a wide range of Goggle services have been made completely unavailable to them -- including the popular Gmail email service, and Google Docs and other ‘cloud-based’ online apps upon which many professionals conduct business and store their work.

The accounts that have been deleted include completely ‘real’ (although admittedly unusual) names, as well as pseudonyms that have been relatively widely-recognized as the person’s professional moniker -- an extremely common practice over the last few decades, especially within both online and entertainment circles. Any profile name that includes quotes seems to be particularly likely to be targeted.

For example, ZD Net’s Violet Blue was herself the victim of a “Terms of Service” or TOS deletion, and Blue also reported on the weekend’s removal of such accounts as Limor "Ladyada" Fried, Kirrily “Skud” Robert, A.V. Flox, and Doctor Popular.

Skud was especially thorough about his profile issues and stance on anonymity in a blog entitled “I’ve been suspended from Google+” Skud cites the specific Google instruction that reads “To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you,” and says that “I had been pleased when I originally saw these terms, thinking that they would allow people with long-standing pseudonyms, or who regular use names that don’t match their state-issued ID, or who have unusual names, to use the service without difficulty. However, we’ve seen multiple cases of people having their accounts suspended despite this.”

Translations can also be a serious difficulty. A user named "V?nh C?u Tr?n" explains that “in Vietnamese, "V?nh C?u" has the same meaning as "Forever". So I set "Forever Tr?n" as my name in Google Profile and I think nothing wrong with that!”

A significant part of the furor against Google is the inconsistency with which the deletions were applied; a number of accounts that remain are more than obviously pseudonyms or even non-persons (Blue gives the example of two pages named Coca Cola, and wonders why all of the Lady Gaga accounts remain). Additionally, many people are concerned that the ‘human factor’ is significantly lacking -- either because of the automatic filter that took their account offline in the first place, or because many of the comments state that there are no enough ways to get in touch with Google to fix the issue.

 

James Lee Phillips is a Senior Writer & Research Analyst for IBG.com. With offices in Dallas, Las Vegas, and New York, & London, IBG is quickly becoming the leading expert in Internet Marketing, Local Search, SEO, Website Development and Reputation Management. More information can be found at www.ibg.com. Craig Morganson was born and raised in Connecticut and then migrated to Nevada in 1980. He is a competitive athlete, musician and successful entrepreneur.

Join the Discussion