Google to Enforce Real Name Policy After 4 Days

Google+ users who opt to use fake profile names will get a 4-day grace period to shape up or ship out. Google will suspend the accounts of those not in compliance.

Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is now giving Google+ users who violate its real name policy by using fake names or pseudonyms four days to get in compliance before it suspends user profiles.

Google+ requires its 25 million-plus users to create Google user profiles, public pages on the Web that users may fill out "to help connect and find real people in the real world."

The company argues that by providing a common name, users will be assisting their friends, family members, classmates, co-workers and other acquaintances to find and create "a connection with the right person online."

Google started a minor furor last month when it began suspending accounts of those it believes were pseudonyms or fake names.

Users were both upset that they could not use Google+ with nicknames or false names to hide their identities and that Google unceremoniously turned off their accounts without notifying them first and giving them a chance to make corrections.

Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management for Google+, promised to make changes and provide a "clear indication of how the user can edit their name to conform to our community standards."

The company delivered Aug. 11. Saurabh Sharma, a product manager on the Google+ team, said Google will give users whose profile names do not hew to Google's Names Policy will get a four-day grace period in which they can fix their profile before Google takes "further action," which means an account suspension.

"During this period, you can continue to use Google+ as usual,"Sharma wrote on Google+. "We're hoping that most affected users will be able to quickly fix their profile name while continuing to enjoy all that Google+ has to offer."

Sharma then invited users dissatisfied with this compromise to check out of Google+, taking their data with them via the Google Takeout data migration tool fashioned by Google's Data Liberation Front.

The move may mollify some users who created joke accounts with pseudonyms, but it's certainly not going to appease the glut of users who use false names to hide their identity for privacy and security purposes. And it certainly isn't satisfying folks who use nicknames, as Google+ user Jon Savage wrote:

"The problem is not allowing 'nyms makes Google+ a less diverse place. People have nics they are known by and have used for years online. People know them by those names. I'm seeing tons of folks getting suspended for using their 2nd life names that are every bit as real as the names they use in the world. Please, please reconsider this name policy."

Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd has described the enforcement of real name policies by Google and Facebook as a corporate "abuse of power" over those who are weaker. ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick offered his own sour critique of Google's policy refresh.