Google hopes to lure celebs to Google+

Celebrities attract a crowd, so it's no shocker that Google apparently wants to attract celebrities to Google+. The sticky wicket: identity.

Will the real Lady Gaga on Google+ please stand up?
Will the real Lady Gaga on Google+ please stand up? screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Google, apparently keen on moving beyond 10 million people on Google+ , is working on a plan to attract celebrities to its new social network.

Central to the plan is the matter of verifying identities, according to a CNN report. Online identity matters are thorny on Google+ , but they're particularly tricky with celebrities because of impersonation issues. I see seven Lady Gagas on Google+ right now, for example, and William Shatner's Google+ account was revoked and restored yesterday.

Google didn't comment on future plans or what happened with Shatner. It did say, though, "Just like everyone else, celebrities can sign up and use Google+," suggesting they create a circle of their biggest fans.

Celebrities can be magnets for mainstream participation in online services, drawing new users over the obstacles of account creation and up the learning curve. Google began with a techie in-crowd when it launched Google+ publicly three weeks ago, but the company prefers a broader population for its online services.

Brett Schulte, a Hollywood consultant who organizes social-media gatherings called Tweet House, said Google is considering options for identity verification including faxing in a driver's license copy, the CNN report said.

Google+ promo graphic
Google+, though invitation-only for now, is threaded throughout other Google services.

It's not clear if celebrities would be treated differently from the hoi polloi. Google could categorize them as "entities," its term for businesses, brand names, and other non-individual accounts. Google plans to begin testing corporate Google+ accounts soon.

Google set up an identity verification system through Knol, a largely unsuccessful system for cataloging nuggets of information. Those verified identities don't get any "verified" label or other indication on Google+, though.

Among existing celebrities on Google+ are 50 Cent, Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, and Alyssa Milano.

Updated 12:19 p.m. PT with Google comment.

About the author

Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and covers browsers, Web development, digital photography and new technology. In the past he has been CNET's beat reporter for Google, Yahoo, Linux, open-source software, servers and supercomputers. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces.

 

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