Back in the distant past of several days ago, if you were, say, a rapper or a Mexican wrestler, you had to suffer the indignity of listing the name your mother gave you on your Google+ profile. Wu-Tang’s RZA would have to go by Robert Fitzgerald Diggs, lucha libre legend El Santo would have to list his name as Rodolfo Guzmán Huerta, and so on.
No more. Last night, Google+ VP Bradley Horowitz announced a new, more inclusive naming policy. From now on you’ll be able to list your nickname, maiden name or name in another script alongside your common name on your Google+ profile.
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It’s actually pretty easy. Just click “Edit Profile,” select your name and then click “More options.” Done! Now if everyone knows you as “Gentleman Jim” or “Tony Bagels,” they won’t be confused when they see you pop up as a possible friend.
Google+ broke down the numbers on why people were trying to create alternative names. Apparently 60% of people just wanted nicknames, 20% were confused businesses who were creating a Profile instead of a +Page, and the remaining 20% were weirdos who wanted a pseudonym so they could pretend to be Neo from The Matrix.
Google+ will still flag profiles that it thinks should be +Pages, although you can can protest by presenting them with references to an established identity in print media, scanned official documentation or “proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following.” Is that fair? Should Google+ just let people come up with any old fake identity they want to?
I could see how proponents of a truly free and open Internet would think so, but you have to look at it from Google’s perspective. They don’t want this to become a Myspace situation.
You remember Myspace, right? The social media network that used to have a capital S and basically allowed people to do whatever they wanted, which resulted in inboxes being flooded by friend requests from fake porn stars and all other kinds of scammers?
Yeah. All in all, not a bad move on Google’s part.