The use, or lack thereof, of common names on Google+ isn’t the only identity crisis the social network faces. There’s also the issue of verifying whether Google+ profiles have really been created by celebrities or are simply forgeries from people hoping for a laugh.
To solve this issue, Google has started rolling out verification badges for profiles so that users are certain they’re adding the right +Dolly Parton, +Ashton Kutcher or some other celebrity to their Google+ Circles.
“When you visit the profile of a celebrity or public figure, you’ll see a verification badge next to their profile name,” explained Google+ software engineer Wen-Ai Yu Aug. 19. Mousing over the gray checkmark reveals a badge that identifies the user as a verified name.
“This will help you easily determine which profiles are owned by real, verified people,” Yu added.
Google is focusing on confirming the accounts of public figures and celebrities, as well as people who have been added to a large number of Circles.
Yu said Google will expand this feature to less famous people. This is a good thing, especially if the company can do this for all of the verified Google+ users. In fact, Google should strongly consider letting members choose to verify their profiles this way, and anyone else can keep a pseudonym.
This would allow people to separate the so-called common, or legal, real name users with those who wish to have a voice on the network but keep their identity close to the vest. Currently, Google gives Google+ pseudonym users four days to provide their common name before suspending those users’ accounts.
Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd is among the many pundits to publicly criticize Google for its hard line versus pseudonym users on Google+.
Former Google social software engineer Kevin Marks also called out his former employer in a blog post Aug. 20.