Membership in Google’s new social network, Google+, has skyrocketed to 20 million members in the first weeks of availability, but hasn’t been without a hiccough or two.
Several high profile users were shut off from the service for violating the Google+ common name policy. In response, Google has added warnings prior to suspension, but is sticking to its name policy.
If you’re ready to join Google+, learn how you can incorporate an alternate name without risking your account.
Prominent tech blogger Robert Scoble shared his conversation with Google’s vice president, Vic Gundotra, about the name policy.
“He says it isn't about real names. He says he isn't using his legal name here. He says, 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,” Scoble wrote on Google+.
The Google+ policy states that you must use the name you go by in real life. This way you can be certain you’re connecting with the right person, and others will have confidence knowing that there is someone real behind the profile they’re checking out.
For instance, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of those would be acceptable, according to Google policy.
How to include an alternate name
Nicknames, maiden names and nom de plumes can be added to your Google+ profile without risk if you follow the rules.
Use your common name when you set up your Google profile. Include your first and last name in a single language. Do not include unusual characters.
You may add alternate names in the “Other Names” and “Nicknames” sections. These additional names are searchable, so Google+ users can find you under a single listing even though you go by multiple names.
You can only set up a profile for yourself. That means no pets, no businesses and no couples or groups.
The "Employment," “Occupation” and “Education” fields in your profile can appear in your hovercard all across Google+, that’s the popup that appears when someone moves his mouse over your name.
If you have a common name, this data will make it easier for people to find the right John Smith. You may choose to make information such as your college or current city visible to the public or to select circles.
What to do if your name is rejected
Google will issue a warning and a chance to correct your name in advance of suspension. However, spammers or other members who abuse the system with objectionable material will be banned immediately.
Google offers a review process that should be completed within one business day. If your name is rejected, a link will appear on your profile to file an appeal. From then on, communication will be through email.