The people have spoken: Google has finally relented and is abandoning its ‘real name requirement’ policy. I can hear the keyboards of a thousand trolls warming up!
The Big G made the announcement on their Google+ page saying that there name restrictions were put in place to help create a community made up of real people. They realise that the policy excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of the community without having to use their real names.
Google admit that the names policy was unclear and led to unnecessarily difficult experiences for some users. They’ve been big about it and apologised and hope that the change is a step forward in making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place they want it to be.
The ‘real name’ policy was put in place when Google+ first launched three years ago, so that people could have valuable conversations. This was Google’s attempt at limiting trolls and spammers. Despite this policy I’ve seen some keyboard warriors who are quite content to be as foul as ever. They got away with this because there was nothing in place to stop people from using fake ‘real names’. This makes me wonder if the policy was worth the annoyance.
Google+ now has 343 million monthly active user accounts, according to data presented by Statista. The social network seems to have grown by enticing webmasters with Google Authorship as well as forcing users to create Google+ accounts in order to comment on YouTube videos. There’s even a Change.org petition about the latter. There are currently 240,077 signatures. It says:
Google is forcing us to make google+ accounts and invading our social life to comment on a youtube video and trying to take away our anonymous profile. They are also trying to censor us unless we share the same worldview as they do.
Backing down on the naming policy seems like a step in the right direction. Anonymity may have been a breeding ground for trolls but the policy was a definite setback for whistle-blowers and political protesters.