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Google VP: Why Google+ requires real names

Speaking with tech blogger Robert Scoble, Google VP Vic Gundotra reportedly explained why Google+ policy forces people to create profiles using their real names rather than nicknames or pseudonyms.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

A Google VP has apparently weighed in on the controversy over why Google+, still in its infancy following its arrival in late June, requires members to use their real names on the social network.

In a reported conversation Sunday night with tech blogger Robert Scoble, Google's senior vice president of social, Vic Gundotra, acknowledged that Google has made mistakes in its first pass with Google+. But he explained that the requirement to use real names is an attempt to set a positive tone, "like when a restaurant doesn't allow people who aren't wearing shirts to enter."

Scoble, who worked for Gundotra when the two were at Microsoft several years back, related details of the conversation in his Google+ post earlier today.

Gundotra explained to Scoble that the requirement isn't about real names or legal names. Instead, "it is about having common names and removing people who spell their names in weird ways, like using upside-down characters, or who are using obviously fake names, like 'god' or worse."

The search giant has stirred up complaints over its rule that people must use their real names in their profiles. Though Google wants to avoid the problems that can occur on social networks when people hide behind pseudonyms and nicknames, users concerned about privacy want the ability to remain anonymous.

Violet Blue, a blogger for CNET sister site ZDNet, over the weekend detailed the struggles some Google+ users are having over their names.

Google+ is working on a way to allow pseudonyms, though it will take some time before such a feature can be implemented, according to Gundotra.

Explaining that Google+ team members are also learning from their mistakes, Gundotra said they plan to change the way they're communicating with users of the social network to let them know what they're doing wrong.

Chiming in with his own take, Scoble said he feels that Google wasn't "fair or smart" in how they kicked in the new rules over profile names, but overall he feels the company is on the right track. Gundotra reportedly also told Scoble to watch for Google's decisions on Google+ over the next few weeks.

A Google spokesperson told CNET that the company had no additional comments on Scoble's post.

From ZDNet:
Four things Google Plus could do to fix Google Plus
Google Plus deleting accounts en masse: No clear answers

Updated 9:00 a.m. PT with response from Google.