Google VPs Discuss Google+ “Real Name” Rapture Fiasco

Call it the Real Name Rapture: the mass disappearance of untold numbers of Google+ users over the weekend for what many outlets reported were violations of Google’s community standards policy.

Call it the Real Name Rapture: the mass disappearance of untold numbers of Google+ users over the weekend for what many outlets reported were violations of Google’s community standards policy.

Rather than getting taken up, however, it appears that Google was cracking down – on funky names, pseudoynms, and overtly frisky social networking behavior.

Now, with hundreds or even thousands of innocent Google+ early adopters caught in the net, including the likes of actor William Shatner (say it ain’t so!), Google’s brass has taken notice and is trying to mend fences with users of its fast growing, but still nascent social network.

Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior VP of Social has taken up the banner of Google’s real-name crusade and is trying to explain the company’s decision to delete Google Plus accounts en masse.

In a post on his Google+ profile, technology blogger Robert Scoble reported on Sunday that he’d discussed the ongoing debacle with Gundotra, a former colleague of his at Microsoft.

Google’s war on pseudonyms isn’t an effort to force users to use their real names, so much as an attempt to suspend users who use weird spellings or “obviously fake names” Gundotra told the influential blogger.

He went on to claim that Google+ is trying to set a positive tone, comparing the social network’s rules to “when a restaurant doesn’t allow people who aren’t wearing shirts to enter.” Gundotra admitted that Google had made some mistakes with Google+ but claimed it was a learning process.

On Tuesday, Bradley Horowitz, Google’s VP of Product, shed further light on the situation. In a post on his Google+ profile, he broke down a potential strategy going forward to notify users that may be violating the company’s policy. Horowitz proposed warning users instead of immediately suspending their profile. By giving them tips on how to edit their names, Google could give users another opportunity to abide by the rules in advance of a suspension, he said.

Horowitz added that he hopes to improve the service’s initial sign up process to prevent issues like this from occurring down the line. He also suggested those wishing to include maiden names or nicknames on their profile add them to the “Other names” section of their G+ profile.

The social media platform, while still in its infancy, has been praised for its usability and interface.

Google made no secret of its intention to shut out pseudonyms from Google+ and to cancel private profiles once the new social network took wing.While Google+ emphasizes both privacy with its ‘circles’ feature, it was clear from the beginning pseudonyms were not going to be welcome on the burgeoning service.  Google isn’t alone. Other networks, including Facebook, also prohibit (or at least frown upon) the use of fake names.

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