Google+ Allows Pseudonyms, But Only If They’re “Established”

Google’s Bradley Horowitz just announced that as part of a more “inclusive” naming policy, Google+ will now be allow people to employ pseudonyms as their user names.

The company’s previous insistence on real names has been the subject of much discussion — and Google itself said earlier that it’s trying to refine the policy to encompass different use cases. In the case of pseudonyms, Google isn’t throwing the door open to anyone who wants to create an account under a random name. Instead, it sounds like it wants to make Google+ better reflect names that are used in the real-world, like “Madonna”. (Yes, that’s actually one of the examples Google uses.)

Moving forward, Google says that when the Google+ team flags a user name, people can appeal the decision by showing that it’s an “established identity,” either offline or online — though if it’s an online identity, it needs to have “a meaningful following.”

In discussing the issue, Horowitz says that only 0.1 percent of users submit name appeals. Of those users, 60 percent want to add nicknames, 20 percent are businesses that accidentally created a personal Profile rather than a company Page, and 20 percent are people who would prefer to use pseudonyms. To address nicknames, Google+ is adding support for alternate names that display alongside your legal name.

“To be clear – our work here isn’t done, but I’m really pleased to be shipping a milestone on our journey,” Horowitz says.