Whose Google Plus Is It, Anyway?

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2011-10-31

Late last month, Google's young social networking effort, Google Plus, took another step toward maturity when the search giant added support for Google Apps domains on the service. For its first few months of life, users with email and application hosting through Google were barred from using these accounts with Google Plus--a real challenge for the service, considering that Apps users are among Google's most committed customers.

The support gap was the latest in a long line of similar service blockages for Apps users, a state of affairs rooted in the arguably very prudent steps Google has taken to separate its consumer-oriented services from those aimed at organizations. Now, Google Plus can enter the business collaboration tools space populated by Yammer, Salesforce Chatter, Status.net and many similar services.

However, the new, organization-friendly Google Plus raises its own set of questions. When the Apps account barriers fell, I immediately enabled the service on our Google-hosted eweeklabs.com domain and created an account for myself. Now, among the many different Jason Brookses that populate Google Plus (today I counted about 100 of them) two of those identities refer to me. If you want to circle eWEEK's Jason Brooks, which is the "real" one?

Organizations have reason to wish for some say in the work-related online activities of their employees, and individuals have reason to exert control over their own online personae. The issue isn't a new one, but social networking services have tended either to be business or personal in nature, not both at once, and Google's insistence on use of real names associated with Google Plus accounts further complicates these conflicts.

Google has announced that a tool for migrating between different accounts will be available within the next few weeks. It's possible that the tool will point to some split-identity solutions, but I'm not holding my breath.

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