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Google+ will now allow alternate names

Google is reversing its you-must-use-your-real-name policy for Google+, saying during the next week, it will start allowing "alternate names — be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script — alongside your common name" on the social network.

"Established pseudonyms, from +trench coat to +Madonna," will also be allowed."

The search giant is in quite a push mode to up the number of users of G+. Last week it said it will make new Google account users join Google+ and Gmail. Now, the backflip on names.

"With Google+, we aspire to make online sharing more like sharing in the real world. And during the Google+ signup process, we've asked users to select the name they commonly use in real life," writes Bradley Horowitz, vice-president Product, G+, on his G+ page. "Since launch we've listened closely to community feedback on our names policy, as well as reviewed our own data regarding signup completion. The vast majority of users sail through our signup process — in fact, only about 0.1 percent submit name appeals."

After analyzing those appeals, 60 percent of them are from people who "want to simply add nicknames," he said. Another 20 percent are businesses that are "inadvertently trying to set up their business as a Profile, rather than using Google+ Pages which were intended for this purpose." The remaining 20 percent say they'd "either prefer to use a pseudonym or another unconventional name."

Adding an alternate name should be easy, Horowitz said: You'll go to your Google+ profile, click "Edit Profile," select your name and click on “More options.”

It's not all a cakewalk, though: Google will be reviewing the names and "typically get back to you within a few days," he said.

"We may also ask for further information, such as proof that you control a website you reference. While a name change is under review, your old name will continue to be displayed. For new accounts without an old name, your profile will be in a non-public, read-only state during the review. Either way, you'll be able to see the status of your review by going to your profile."

To learn more, read the Google+ Names Policy.

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