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Don’t really want to attach a full name to your Google profile? Perhaps your online persona is all centred around a nickname? Google has heard your pleas — it’s backtracking on its much-contested real name policy.
Since Google Plus launched back in 2011, its policy required that users share their full common names — and if you didn’t abide by the rules, your account could be flagged and suspended. Questionable activity included having a mononym (for example, just using your first name and a dot as your surname), mixing scripts (by including icons or characters in multiple languages) or submitting a stage name or online handle.
Now, the team has apologised for inspiring the war against users who want more control over how they’re represented on the site. In a post on its Google Plus page, it says that while its intention was to create a community of ‘real’ people who could not hide behind anonymity for malicious purposes, it also realises that it “also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names”.
We know you’ve been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today’s change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be.
While the fact that you had to use a real name on Google’s 300-million plus social network was a concern for everyone from victims of harassment to those seeking privacy and those who didn’t feel connected to their registered name, the move to enforce the same policy for YouTubers really amplified the criticism.
Last year, in a bid to link its services, Google began requiring YouTube users to use their Google Plus names when using the video site. The move saw widespread revolt and lead to comments sections littered with complaints and even Bob’s stick figure army.
While the Google services are still linked, Google has now dropped all restrictions on naming, meaning you can use whatever pseudonym or YouTube name you’d like on Google Plus too.