Google+ is still new territory for most DIYMarketers – in this informational piece, Francis Santos reports on Google’s change in policy as it relates to using your name or a pseudonym or company name.
As Google+ matures, it is embracing changes that certainly appear to be for the better. Aside from recently lifting the invitation-only system it started out with and opening the platform to the general public, Google has also decided to support pseudonyms in addition to the other forms of identify according to Vic Gundotra, the company’s Senior Vice President of Social Business. This is very interesting news and a move that differs greatly from its previous stance on usernames.
Singing a Different Tune
From the moment it launched in late June until well, now, Google+ has required that members use a real first and last name when signing up. You could not use a pseudonym or even the name of your company if you wanted to experience this social platform. The penalty for failing to comply? Having your account permanently deleted. This is something Google was very serious about, serious enough to actually deploy a bot that automatically detects and suspends the accounts of users believed to be in violation of the policy, in some cases without offering any explanation.
As you may have guessed, Google’s real name policy is something that did not go over quite well with pundits. Many of them, most critics known to chime in on policy-related issues, argued that the company should not be allowed to force people to use their real names online. It was even brought up how doing so in countries such as Iran could put the users life in grave danger. The anonymity aspect in regard to usernames is part of what makes Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter so attractive to users who want to retain at least some sense of privacy in their dealings. Those who oppose Google’s take on pseudonyms believe that this degree of anonymity should be retained within the social space.
Google countered the critics with explanations that defended its requirement to use real names on the service. One of the biggest arguments made by company CEO Eric Schmidt was that using the platform is optional and something that users do at their own will. Though a valid statement, this point didn’t do much to satisfy those left at unease over the privacy concerns. The company also argued that using real names on Google+ improves the quality of discussions and makes members easier to identify. Again, these are valid points that ended up being moot when it was revealed that Google did not take the necessary steps to determine if the names people provided were actually correct.
Potential Marketing Impact
For whatever reason, Google has changed its tune and decided to support pseudonyms. Although Gundotra did not go into detail about the types of names that could be used, one would assume?that it will be a policy similar to the one used by Facebook and other social networks, meaning marketers would soon have far more flexibility in terms of how they are represented on Google+. For example, if you are representing a company, you could use the name of its top brand or the organization itself. If you are a writer or artist, you could use the pseudonym associated with your work.
At this time, there is no word on when Google+ will officially allow pseudonyms. With whispers of its imminent death going around, it might be sooner than later.