Google+ Rolls Out Verified Profiles, Still Struggles With Real-Name Policy

William Shatner, rejoice! Earlier today, Wen-Ai Yu from the Google+ team announced with a post on Google+ and an accompanying YouTube video that the social network now boasts ‘verification badges’ for celebrities, public figures, but also people who have been added to an (undefined) ‘large’ number of Circles, with the promise to expand the verified profile system in the near future.

This is in line with an earlier report from CNN’s Mark Milian, who caught wind of Google’s ‘celebrity acquisition plan’ a month ago.

The badges are basically grey Twitter-type check mark that expand to say ‘verified name’ when you hover over them (see screenshot of my profile – I’ve apparently been added to enough Google+ Circles to make the list). People who don’t yet have a verified profile should ‘hang tight’, Yu says.

Things that are not clear:

– How celebrities and public figures are being asked by Google to verify their identity, although the CNN report mentioned that one option that was being considered by the Google + team at the time involved asking a celebrity to fax a copy of his or her driver’s license.

– Exactly how large the number of circles on has to be added to needs to be, and why some high-profile users seem to have fallen though the cracks. It doesn’t make any sense to give me a verification badge but not people like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (he’s the most followed person on Google+, ironically) and entrepreneur celebs like Kevin Rose and Tom Anderson.

– If there will be a dedicated page listing all verified profiles (or at least those of celebrities and public figures) so people can discover more people to follow, particularly when they’re new to Google+

According to a tweet from Louis Gray, who has just been hired as Google+ evangelist (update: but only starts next Monday), there may well be no plans to build a ‘default’ (aka suggested user) list based on which profiles are verified by the Google+ team and which are not.

Meanwhile, the debate about the real name policy on Google+ rages on. Joining the social network requires mandatory real name and gender disclosure, and Google has already suspended accounts because it believed users were using a pseudonym.

These days, when Google finds that a profile name does not adhere to its policy, users are given a 4-day grace period to change it before they get booted off the social network.

Power user Robert Scoble this morning sent an open letter to Google’s Vic Gundotra – and published it on his Google+ profile to boot – providing several suggestions for change to the real name policy, which Scoble says is not being enforced fairly, or properly, and causing distraction.

(Hat tip to Michel over at WebSonic)

UPDATE: Google says that it is continuing to roll out verification badges, and since we wrote this post both Zuckerberg and Anderson have been verified.