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Google have announced their "real name" policy on Google plus today, and clarified that they no longer require your real name to be publicly seen on Google Plus. In fact you can use any name you want. The Nymwars are over!
When we launched Google+ over three years ago, we had a lot of restrictions on what name you could use on your profile. This helped create a community made up of real people, but it also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names.
Over the years, as Google+ grew and its community became established, we steadily opened up this policy, from allowing +Page owners to use any name of their choosing to letting YouTube users bring their usernames into Google+. Today, we are taking the last step: there are no more restrictions on what name you can use.
This is good news for all people who actually need to stay nymed online, such as survivors of domestic abuse, people who are being stalked, women in general, and anyone who due to work and/or family needs to keep their privacy, private which actually is most of us. Who is harmed by a real names policy gives an extensive list of examples. This change can also be seen as an invite for the comment trolls to come out an play again, and it's sure to tick off Youtube channel owners who used to operate under a "youtube name", but on G+ had to change it to real names, losing audience familiarity in the process. Wired wrote about the G+ username and privacy issues when it happened in 2011, noting that the ability to keep multiple identities with increased privacy controls was what made Google different from Facebook. The problem - as usual - is that people make mistakes, and so Google's Android was blamed for outing a trans woman to co-workers, when the OS insisted on G+ taking over the ability to SMS on the users phone.
Now that people have been on G+ for years with their real names, will we have two Google societies, one with the old established Real Names™ people, and a second layer of n00bs with nyms? Seems very likely. For a lot of Google Plus users this will be "too little, too late", similar to the delayed branding pages. In theory, I could now start a "Adland" 'personal' page with the "Adland" primary business gmail, instead of being personal me on that gmail, and then fostering a Google page as I was forced to doing now.
While were on the subject, on Google Plus Adland has this page, and we'd love for you to follow it (instead of my personal profile which attracts a bazillion strangers, likely due to it being born by the Adland gmail).