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Update: you can find a transcript of Schmidt's comments here:

I'm at the Edinburgh Intl TV Festival and just got to ask a question to Google CEO Eric Schmidt regarding real names on G+. I asked him how Google justifies the policy given that real identities could put people at risk.

He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.

Regarding people who are concerned about their safety, he said G+ is completely optional. No one is forcing you to use it. It's obvious for people at risk if they use their real names, they shouldn't use G+. Regarding countries like Iran and Syria, people there have no expectation of privacy anyway due to their government's own policies, which implies (to me, at least) that Schmidt thinks there's no point of even trying to have a service that allows pseudonyms. Unfortunately, the way the Q&A was conducted, I wasn't in a position to ask him a followup on this particular point.

He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.

These aren't exact quotes, but I did my best to paraphrase the gist of what he was saying.

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Wow Andy. We have been wondering where you were.
The issue is a very important case for some. I don't really care very much, as I have no problem letting others know who I am.
There is a lot going on with developing Google+, like verified names ect.
I hope there will be a option to get a verified account, and then hide your real name. It might be good enough for the holders of secrets. :)
If I were trying to hide, I would not be here.
Been dealing with Libya, then flew to Scotland.
+s.e. smith I don't understand why you start the post with "if it's so important to you...", as I clearly stated "I don't really care very much".
I say it's important for some, and there will always be lots wanting to join, but for some good reason cannot show their real name.
What to say? I think this policy is very dubious and may have lots of unintended consequences. For my own part, I have two google profiles of which this (my UK one) is the most influential as is marries mye UK, US and Scandinavian contacts (I work in all those regions of the world). But I actually have two seperate identities as I lived in the UK for many years and was asked to translate my trickey surname Løwe to Lowe, and Kristine Lowe is my UK byline and has been for many years (as opposed to Kristine Løwe which is my Norwegian byline). I'd get really mad if I'd all of a sudden would be unable to distinguish btwn the two due to some trick of a company. Still, my two, pretty identical, identities is an awfully trivial matter compared to the issues faced by those who have a real, desperate need to stay anonymous...
I'm intrigued by the fact that he stated G+ is primarily an identity service ... and not something else like for instance a social network.
You could have asked him why he doesn't have an account on G+. I'd love to hear that answer.
if people want to stay anonymous and stay private they need to stay off the internet. It's like standing in the middle of a big city hoping no one sees you. pointless.
+Brendan Molloy I am sure he's got an account, but he doesn't bother to block or ignore all the millions of people wanting to tell him stuff. :)
I have no issue with real names, it is beneficial for 99.99 % of the users. The others, sorry your not part of the strategy 
Agree with +terri knoll, you leave a lot of traces once you step onto the net. A pseudonym or alias is a flimsy defense if you want to be untraceable.
Completely facetiuos response. But hey folks, if you don't want to use your real name use one that sounds like one and tell your friends what it is. Duh.
I don't know what to least he is upfront about his answer...
I just wish he wasn't such an evil genius about it...but it's very hard not to have to use google products when you're on the internet.

They know that, of course...I just hoped that they'd be a bit more gallant about it.

Yes, I know...I am very naïve that way. :/

+Andy Carvin Thank you for asking.
+Vic G. Reyes Yes, right!? which is what makes me wonder and ponder why it's so hard for the Big G to give in on this particular subject. :(
Identity service with no actual ID ever required? This is a farce, but it's not funny.
+s.e. smith - Part of the problem is you are confusing policy with implementation problems/bugs. If a person is temporarily suspended because somebody reports them for having a fake name, they should be able to quickly verify their name and be restored. And, Google needs to correct the bugs in the types of names it allows as 'real'. But, that doesn't mean a real-name policy in itself is a bad idea. I believe a company should have the right to decide what type of community it wants to build. We have the right to decide if we want to use it.

What, insinuated, in the title of the link provided, if you were even remotely interested in your privacy/security, would entice you to seek out any 'mainstream/public' platform for anonymity purposes?!

The services in question have to adhere to the legal requirements of the jurisdiction within which they operate, and once subpoenaed are obliged to divulge ALL information pertaining to an individuals account, regardless of ones pseudonym.
I simply can't understand the meaning of the expression "identity service". can anybody explain to me? I'm not a native English-speaker.
G+ has a name based system because they want to be able to ID you and sell you stuff. They're trying to get a detailed consumer profile.
+RoPunky . He means they want it to be just like Facebook. The way I remember it, creating a profile based on your own name was revolutionary at the time. I think people did it because initially, when you joined Facebook you joined a network of people you actually knew.

Google+ would like to establish a similar network, and I think the argument for doing so is pretty good. If everyone signed up under their silly internet handles I would never be able to figure out which people here I know if I wasn't in the habit of gmailing them, and in the post-Facebook era, I'm not. G+ is a forum that only works if we go by the name that is or is similar to our public persona.

It seems like most people have elected to join Google+ under their real names. But I wonder if that's only because Facebook has trained people to think that's what a social network looks like.
+Andy Carvin quick fact check Eric Schmidt isn't CEO anymore, he is Executive Chairman. Larry Page took over as CEO earlier this year.
When Eric Schmidt said Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward, was he saying that Google is not able to see a person is being good or evil when they use a pseudonym? Does the pseudonym some how hide that from them? If a person known as Fedora A$sHat is being evil, can Google not see that? I certainly could. Knowing a real name doesn't mean you know if they are evil. If you require us to use a name that no one but our birth parents know us by, what have you gained? Not everybody knows you by the name on your birth certificate. Being a CEO you would think that he would know you can't judge a person by their name as it is their behavior that is the key indicator of the good or evil that is with in them. If you need to ID them, use the name they travel under and that others will know them by. You also have the ability to see their IP so you can see in the pattern of IP addresses they use where they are coming from. Although they could be coming from a compromised IP, they could also be using a real sounding fake name too. What they perceive to be reality may not be. Welcome to the matrix boys.
+Cisop Sixpence Google has not declared war on trolling. The theory is that people act like less of annoying idiots when they do it under their own name. Facebook shows that this isn't quite the case, so maybe his stated reasoning here is flawed.
+Colin Hill, I understand their thinking this. However, I have a reputation with the name I use. I have no desire to tarnish it. I think they should deal with this on a case by case basis, and only confront those who are actually behaving badly. Seems like it would be a lot less work than trying to track down and verify names.
+Leo G They do. Then Google suspends their accounts once they realize they have a pseudonym or someone reports them. This has even happened to friends of mine that work for the company. They've even suspended Google accounts of people who put their initials as their name for goodness sake.
It strikes me that this is about finding the limitations of services. People in charge of platforms are in love with the idea that 'real identity' promotes better discourse/products/interactions, which is only true some of the time. We all have many identities, and the Google and FB internet only caters to one type, a public persona. Often those most in need of connectivity are genuine but need to assume different identities - the ill, the abused, the threatened, the confused, the whistleblower. It is very helpful to know that Google + is not for them, but it would also be useful to know who is constructing products that approach this intelligently.
based on their behavior, I am not using google checkout, ever.
Is it really that hard? just use a real name that is not your name. Ie Kevin Jones 
I think people just want to use vanity names or handles 
That's just mind blowing. So this whole social networking venture was just bait to get us to give up our personal information to them? I guess I actually nailed it in a parody interview with Google three weeks ago, when they spoke about cooking a live frog:
+Botgirl Questi If you don't want to be sold things, feel free to stop using the internet. That ship has sailed.
Oh, +Jacob Bowen, if vanity names were the only reason, but for many that isn't even close to being a reason. Sometimes you have to be in the other persons shoes for a while to understand not only do they hurt (attempt at humor) but that the person has a totally different view of the world than you do. Not every one lives the happy life of Donna Reed. (eek, did I just date my self?)
+Colin Hill That's a really nuanced and thoughtful point of view. Thanks for sharing it with me. ;)
I don't mind being sold things. But only under this name will I buy them. If you have my other name that almost no one knows and you try to market to it, you will get no satisfaction or purchase, in fact the name people know me by may boycott your ass as well.
+Cisop Sixpence The problem is that Google has to hope that a billion people are using Google+ someday. Doing everything on a case by case basis isn't feasible in the long term. They need to establish quickly how this service is to be used. I don't think their guidelines have been burdensome or restrictive; certainly better implemented than Facebook ever did it. And that's the most-used network! Anyone may choose not to use the service if it doesn't suit them, but I think it's open enough that most people should be okay with it.
My point is you could pick any name that is viewed as real and no one would be any wiser rather than botgirl or sk8ter31 this is such an easy fix? this is like the McLovin thing in super bad just use a believable name on a fake id because that essentially what this is about 
I'd like to ask Schmidt why pseudonyms are good enough for Gmail but not Google+? Why is it I can be where Google knows my identity but does not share it with people I email, but the Google+ system forces people to expose their name to others?
No, Eric, Disqus is an identity service. OpenID is an identity service. An identity service is something you use to identify yourself. If Google was all about "Identity" here they'd be basing 25% of their bonuses on "Identity", not "Social".

Google Plus is a "Social Networking Tool", and a good one. Not an "Identity Service".

Build a good identity service into it, and let people use that if they choose, sure, but presenting a social network tool as an "identity service" is a bamboozle.
+Ron Blechner Because that's the way email evolved, as a system where you could have as many as you wanted until the real names you preferred. After they invented social networking, it also evolved, thanks to Facebook in the direction of using your preferred, real-life identity. it would not be social networking if it was not identified with your real-life public persona. It would be the next generation of message boards coded in HTML5. If we all choose to use our real names social networking becomes much more useful. I don't think we should let existential privacy fears get in the way of that, not if we're Americans.
+Jacob Bowen I don't want to pick a "real looking" name, and pretend that's my name. That feels like fraud to me. Using a name that is clearly a pseudonym, one I've been using far longer than Google has existed, that's honest.

+Colin Hill The problem is that the network effects of social services are critical. I'm on Diaspora, but unless other people join it... it doesn't matter. If Google and Facebook between them end up owning this space, which is likely, the option of "not using it" is no longer viable.
No, +Terri Knoll & +Vic G. Reyes , if people want to stay anonymous and private they need to stay on the internet and fight for their rights against governments and corporations that are determined to erode them for their own benefit. You loose anonymity online because of these sorts of policies and practices. We need to stand up for our rights so that our privacy is maintained and so that we can express ourselves, not give up the internet and go back into the caves.

+Leo G , you are missing the point. Firstly, a 'fake account' would be in danger of being shut down whenever you are 'caught'; secondly people don't actually want to go against the terms and conditions; thirdly and most importantly, it is a matter of principle. Eric and the policy are wrong. You can't just 'go somewhere else' when it comes to social networks - it doesn't work if you're by yourself. Using a Pseudonym does not make you a 'fake person' - how can limiting someone's ability to express themselves result in a better representation of them online?

+Colin Hill There's a group of people out there that won't find me because I'm not signed up using my silly internet handle.
Seriously the solution us too obvious; fake real name. Not hard this is getting too ridiculous
Did we have these conversations about Facebook? Was this a big deal then? Just wondering...
+Paul Becker on the whole, no. Because there were different expectations for Facebook and Google+. Some people thought Google+ would be the panacea for internet social networks and would cater to every possible use case (e.g. how many forms online allow for mononyms?), and are more disappointed to find this is not the case.
+Colin Hill- says the man with a uh ... Powerpuff girl / boy remixed avatar icon. ;) America is about freedom, and America's laws about identity are pretty clear - you're allowed to use aliases, assuming you're not impersonating someone. So don't drop the "It's American" card unless you can back that up. The Internet is about freedom of expression. Limiting people's ability to express themselves is, by definition, limiting freedom. And that is unamerican.
Facebook doesn't actively shut down pseudonym accounts unless they cause trouble. I've seen several friends of mine on G+ with suspended accounts for thapt reason in the short timr the service has been around.

While it happens sometimes with Facebook, I have yet to see a friend of mine banned for it.
+Amy Anuszewski: pardon me for considering the offer/accept model of market oversimplified, but in real life, there's another important step: haggling. If you want to view Google's "real" name policy as an offer for customers to accept or reject, #nymwars is a collective bargaining effort.
Excuse the misspellings on my part. This phone acts wonky and I can't edit my comments right now.
"G+ was build primarily as an identity service"
Identity service as in: service to help verify that an internet-user is who she/he claims to be ?
I thought G+ was build primarily to be a social networking service.
The "verified name"-feature is an identity service, but G+ as a whole ? Really ?
Mind you, I think more is at stake when a Google account is suspended than an FB account is suspended. People have Reader, Gmail, Voice, and countless other services tied to it.

Google knows they're in a position of power, and they're using that to strong arm a policy that is even more strict than the common law definition of a name.

Shit like this makes me want to abandon Google's services entirely. I'm going to wait and see how this pans out before I act.
+Paul Brocklehurst: Not in this case, because Americans have many names. Does +Bill Clinton's driving license have his real name, Bill Clinton, or does it refer to an entirely irrelevant — and "obviously" fictional — person called "William Jefferson"?
I don't think there's any point in continuing the conversation with the Google execs. It's all rationalization now. They've committed to the position and aren't backing down.

Given the new information about how personal information is not wipeable from Google Apps Market accounts (tied to Android phones), I'm getting really uncomfortable about this morass. As + Botgirl Questi says, they were cooking the frog, the frog being us.

Now I get to figure out how best to extricate myself from all Google Services and attempt to wipe credit card information from their databases too (unlikely but I'll give it a shot).
Well, Eric Schmidt aught to be fine with my presence here, because I signed up as 'Extropia DaSilva' which is my real name. The person who created me has a different name, but since this is MY G+ account using any name other than my own would be faking it, no? :)
+peter da silva how is a pseudonym any different, i think this all goes back to internet vanity names and gamer tags. If you don't use real names this becomes icq or a like a message board as opposed to a social network. See downfall of MySpace as an example 
One personal observation from my experience with Google+ - - I have found that it seems easier for those not using their actual identity to make comments that I consider to be somewhat unkind. I believe, when we are speaking from our true identity, we are more likely to be civil to one another. I believe the internet (and social media communications in general) could stand to benefit from people proud to be who they are and say what they believe in a civil and productive way.
+Enrique Santos Good point with what is at stake if Google catches those violating TOS and the name issue. When I first tried joining FB, I attempted to use my blog handle - it prevented me from doing so (but I also didn't try that hard to circumvent the process either).

I agree that Google should have thought this through before people started signing up, but for me it has yet to be game changer.

I think the online community will always be divided on this issue...
Jude, as a digital person my existence is entirely dependent on my ability to maintain a presence on social networks. Therefore, I would argue I have the greater interest in maintaining a positive Web presence, a good reputation, thereby minimizing my chances of being cut off from the network. Of course, there is not much I can do against those who are just prejiudiced against the likes of me and would eraze us no matter how we behave.
I do agree somewhat +Jude Camwell, because I have been verbally attacked on Facebook and we mostly use our real names over there.

However, that happened with people I know IRL...not strangers. Perhaps that's the difference.
So TL;DR all of this, but I'm of the main opinion that is required for any social network - how exactly do you expect people to find you if you aren't using your real name?

I have friends in both real life and online; while most will know me as Gina, that doesn't mean there aren't a thousand Gina's in the world (and really, there are a lot of Regina Woodards); my real life friends didn't find me on Facebook under WebMistressGina; they found me with my real name.

Something I mentioned earlier (on another post) was that for those going for professional reasons, I'm sure that LinkedIn didn't let you use Mr. Plow as your name, just as +Paul Becker mentioned that Facebook wouldn't allow him to sign up with his blog handle.

I think my main thing is that people didn't get all up in arms when FB makes you use your real name, so why then is everyone like, "I wanna be known as Dr. Pimpenstein!" Does your mom call you Dr. Pimpemstein? I'm sure your boss doesn't call you that either.

I think I have to agree with Schmidt that if you don't like it, don't join anything related to Google or anything else for that matter in which you need to use your real name. It certainly means you can't sign up for online apps or job interviews, but hey, not everyone wants to call you Pimp.
Doesn't this start to get a bit tricky when the rest of the world wants to use Google +? I've got a mate in Korea who's name is +호빈 (notice the + sign failure there!) however I've known him for 30 years as 'Jack' but he can't enter that in G+ as it's not a 'Legal' name; I also can't enter his Korean name (mainly because I don't have a clue how to type in Korean?) Which stops me from interacting with him through Google; I don't have a problem with the policy as long as the implementation is done in a fair and reasonable way (not ban everyone and make them plead with Google to allow them back on) but it does feel a little bit that Google are looking at this through quite a narrow lens.
+Regina Woodard: Well, most of the people I'm following here I found not by the colour of their name but by the content of their posts. But if I were to try and find people I know from elsewhere, I'd like to find them by the names I know them by, not old names that were once upon a time written down in dusty journals, and have been all but forgotten for a long time now. Suppose I know a friend from Second Life, and he's got a real name. How could I find him by his real Second Life name here? Suppose I want to see what Banksy has to offer. How could I find him by his real name here? Suppose I've known a man from Georgia since 1992, and we chat daily on IRC. I know him by a real name consisting of 8 ASCII letters. How could I find him here if I can't type even a single letter from the Georgian alphabet on my ASCII keyboard?
Having a known identity is no hindrance to evil deeds, but it can be profoundly hostile to good ones.

Why doesn't he just admit he's doing it for the ad revenues and he doesn't care if your ex-husband tracks you down and murders you based on policies he chooses to implement because your right to privacy is not revenue positive?
+Andres Soolo - Yes, haggling is part of the process :) My next comment is in no way directed to you or anybody in this thread, but more of a general observation of many posts/comments on this issue. My issue is not that people complain about the policy (or the implementation of the policy). My concern is that many of the people ranting about the real names policy have a tone of moral superiority that I find disturbing. The use of a real name or pseudonym on G+ is just not something to get all that worked up about. It's akin to a requirement to wear a jacket in a fancy restaurant and refusing service if you don't put on a jacket. It's not akin to refusing service because somebody is black. I just wish that people would tone down the rhetoric a bit and drop some of the rage. (Again, I'm not saying I see any of that here) I prefer real names. But, if Google were to change that policy, it wouldn't send me in a tizzy. It's a website. Not my life.
The use of a real name or pseudonym on G+ is just not something to get all that worked up about.

Unless it's your ex-husband racking the slide on the shotgun when you come home one night. Then it might be something to get real worked up about. I hear battered women have a real problem with that.

It's akin to a requirement to wear a jacket in a fancy restaurant and refusing service if you don't put on a jacket.

Jackets don't get people killed, tortured or disappeared into non-judicial detention.

I just wish that people would tone down the rhetoric a bit and drop some of the rage.

Maybe people who have opinions other than yours have a reason for them? Maybe condescension that denies them the right to have feelings that -- for many of the people in question -- are completely well-founded and legitimate, is not a very convincing argument. You don't really have the ownership of other people's reactions to a policy, and when so many people have such a strong reaction, maybe you should consider taking a look at exactly what motivates them, rather than reciting a party line.
Nothing he said was "wrong" but it does set G+ apart from the learned conventions to which Net users have grown accustomed.
+Tom Holmes +Andres Soolo Okay, so I can understand the issue when you know someone outside of the US who doesn't have a recognized 'American' name. That I can fault as a Google problem for being very Americanized and being ethnocentric.

To counter you, Andres, as someone who has played online games (which were paid), I still had to enter my name in order to sign up and thus pay for the game with my credit card. In those cases, it's simply a matter of asking that person for their name. Or their Google email, so that you can find them that way.

Everyone's getting up in arms about this and really, unless you have some unpronounceable name (again, such as you live outside of the US), then yes, I could see the real name policy as an issue, only because - being an American company - Google may not have the software to create your name so that people can find you. Hell, sometimes Google has issues translating pages in Chinese and Japanese because they use characters rather than letters.

Again, if you are friends with someone online to the point where you are comfortable in letting them know you're real name (and not the screen name you're going by) then you shouldn't have an issue in telling them your email so they can find you here.

Google is integrated, therefore if people don't have a problem signing up for Gmail using their real names, they shouldn't be moaning about using G+
No, that's not it. People are not expected to pick a jacket and stick to it from a fancy cradle to a fancy grave. People are not expected to find each other by their jackets. A jacket is an accessory. A name is an identifier.

Besides, a jacket in a restaurant is a formality. If Google's policy was intended to create an environment where people have uniform two-part English-pronounceable names written in Latin script, they wouldn't mind people who, as a formality, don two-part English-pronounceable Latin-script entirely fictitious names for the sole purpose of visiting the fancy Google restaurant. But as we see, Google does mind.
Hmmm... if Eric Schmidt is saying G+ is primarily an identity service, how long before he's touting it to governments to provide their ID services?

Here in the UK an identity card system tying together all welfare, benefits, taxation and healthcare, was proposed by the last government. They messed around with it for the best part of a decade (billions were spent on it) and finally it was ditched as a complete mess by the current coalition government.

But wait now. If in a few years Google were to be able to say: "hey, we've got all that data on 80% (say) of all the people you were trying to get in your ID card system - tell you what, you can rent our system for, say $100 per person per year". That'd be around $5bn in annual revenue just from the UK.

Kerchingggg!!! Eric Schmidt's eyes roll with $ signs in cartoon stylee
+Allie Prather While I respect your opinion, I do have to disagree with it, to a point. You're right; many of the people who are engaged here I don't know. In fact, I've spent more time talking to people I don't know than the friends I do know.

And I agree that in cases where an abuse victim or a trasngendered person would need to use a new name that the policy isn't geared towards them. But, as Schmidt said, they don't have to use the site.

One of the reasons why I and so many others enjoy G+ is because of circles. You can have people from work in different circles or don't have them in circles at all. Your choice.

For most people (I'm guessing??), in order to even use G+, you need a Google account. I know when I signed up for Gmail, I had to use my real name. The same was true when I signed up for Yahoo, Hotmail, and any ISP email. If your friends have a Google account, then moving to G+ shouldn't be a hassle.

I think an important point is that, for one thing, using your real name means you are accountable for what you say. While not everyone does this, a good portion of trolls get away with a lot by not using their real names (just look at YouTube and other forums).

I'm kinda surprised that you would leave G+ because your friends don't want to use their real names. Again, did they also bitch and moan because Facebook makes them use their names? How did you find your friends there? I'm sure I have online friends here and on Facebook that I haven't found because I don't know their real names, but it's not crucial enough that I'll leave that network.

And really, G+ isn't the only social network. Want to use an alias? Go to Twitter, but even Twitter has to verify celebs and businesses.
Looks to me that google can't monitize fauls names (Suydonames) the data mining of a real person must be double or thriple the worth one from the other. This Is all about profits no doubt.. 
+Jacob Bowen, do you really think the downfall of MySpace was due to their username-policy ? What about Twitter ?

+Jude Camwell,"actual identity", "true identity" or even "real name" are misleading terms in my opinion.
A nickname or pen-name is not less true or real than a passport-name.

+Regina Woodard, while it may be true that your peers find you best when you use your passport-name, for other people that situation might be different.

Initially the policy stated: Use the name you are most commonly known by !
That made sense.

Now the policy has shifted towards: Use the name that is in your passport !
And that does not make sense for everybody.
I agree with Schmidt. Anyone who wants to can use a pseudonym on twitter or youtube and plenty of other communities on the web, you don't need G+.
+Tom Black - just to note that I did not use "real name" because that's something different. A name is what we call our self, be it a nick-name or a birth name. "Identity" involves the characteristics by which we're recognizable (and responsible) in the life we share with others.
+Tom Black The purpose is for people to find you. Most of these people - friends, family, co-workers - are going to find you by your real name. As I mentioned, I know there are online friends who might not know my last name. However, as in that thing called common sense, if I trust them and they wanted to know how to find me on G+, I'd give them my last name were they to ask. Random stranger? Probably not.

+Jonathan Wedd I agree, Jonathan. Everyone's up in arms about this, as I've mentioned repeatedly, but can anyone verify if people were so pissed about this same thing on Facebook? I bet the answer is no, they weren't cause they know in order for friends and family to find them, they need a real name.

When LinkedIn came out, did business professionals flip out? Again, probably not because it's a professional site that requires your real name.

With that said, I had no issues finding people that I follow on Twitter on here. Know why? Cause when invites went out, I asked how I could find them. Voila! Found! If people only want to follow me as WebMistressGina, I've got the link to Twitter right in my profile.

It seems as though everyone thinks that G+ is going to run the other networks out of business. It won't. Political uprests will still get coverage through tweets, embarrassing holiday pictures will still get posted (and probably get someone fired) on Facebook, and you might be able to get or post a job on LinkedIn.

Google has a lot of stuff people. Just because I'm on G+ doesn't mean I have to use Picasa or Calendar or Docs; in fact, it was only recently that I started using Docs and Calendar.
I think this issue is getting blown out of proportion...

There are many good reasons to enforce a real name policy.

It's easier to not take yourself or others seriously when you can hide behind a fake name. Take YouTube, a site that allows pseudonyms, as just one example. It's infested with comments from pedophiles and foot fetishists. But on sites that enforce real name use, people tend to think before they act because they know that their real identities are on the line; the network is a lot cleaner as a result.

Real names also makes it easier to build trust for business and social networking. Most people would much rather engage in a meaningful conversation with someone named "Jared Wiechert" than "PuppyFan802."

Regarding concerns about the world knowing your gay, atheist, or against an oppressive government, Google+ makes it easy for you to control how you share your information, and, if Google+ follows Facebook's business/fan page model, you'll likely be able to hide your real identity behind another page.

I truly believe this site would turn into another spam house like Twitter, Tumblr, or Myspace if fake names became the norm.
Why don't we just build some kind of Quantative Karma (Quarma) that's based on the number of signatures you have on a PGP key? The more signatures you have, the more quarma you've gotten, and therefore, more trustworthy you are. And even then you wouldn't have to use your real name in the key, unless you want to.
+Jude Camwell Agreed.
And some of us are not recognizable by their passport-name, because that is not the name we are known by.
And I agree that in cases where an abuse victim or a trasngendered person would need to use a new name that the policy isn't geared towards them. But, as Schmidt said, they don't have to use the site.

So are all these awareness campaigns -- that spousal abuse, bullying, gender discrimination, happen to real people, nice people, people you know, ALL THE TIME -- just pointless wastes of energy? Because it seems to me that people who are so positive about Google's policy are just blithe about the realities of this. You're ACTIVELY AIDING in the isolation of people who are subject to bullying, discrimination, and abuse. It is not your responsibility to avoid your abuser. It is not your responsibility to avoid people who bully you. It is not your responsibility to avoid situations where you will be subject to discrimination.

I'm sorry, but this sounds like a whole lot of really atrocious, naive blaming-the-victim by Google fanboys. Is this 1975 or what? Are you really saying that victims of spousal abuse and transgendered people who are not publically out yet should not use the site? Do you even know what you sound like? Bullying and spousal abuse are not exactly six-sigma events, folks.
Let's let that Syria and Iran comment slide, because it shows such utter contempt for the 'rest of the world' that it makes me think he actually believes only the Western World bubble is real, isolated from the real real world. But hey, I'll pretend with him for a second that the rest of the world doesn't count. A social network that doesn't allow pseuds is still wrong.

I think there's a basic misunderstanding here of what an online social network is or at least can be in the first place - SO much more than any offline social network. Just analyse the way communities are built on any long-term thriving message board, or even LiveJournal. Bringing strangers together by letting them connect via their interests can only work if they feel safe, and many interests are not socially acceptable so people need to use pseuds to connect.

I'm very sad because I think Google is missing a big opportunity here to once again be the leader in something, an all-inclusive social network that allows everyone to be who they are, a shiny beacon of Good. Instead, they are narrow-mindedly trying to force a norm on everyone. If I wanted to be judged by how I look and where I was born, my gender, what I studied and how much money I make, I can have offline social interaction. Online, I should be allowed to be whoever I want to be. Not a fake persona, quite the opposite: I just want to not have to lie and pretend, play the game, be who society wants me to be, like I have to do in real life - or else suffer the economic consequences. Everyone says they're looking for interesting employees, but look at real life: anything that makes you stand out is a bad thing. Clothes make a man. Liking My Little Pony unmakes a man. Don't dare pretend it isn't so.
So, first grr that none of the Chrome extensions work anymore. I'm getting lost in responses!

+Allie Prather +Tony Sharp Tony has a good point in terms of trust. I'm more likely to trust a real name or legal name that adds me to a circle than that of PuppySmuggler2011 (unless I happen to know PuppySmuggler).

You just admitted that you found your friends and family through their legal/real names. I have several personas online that, again my online friends probably know me by, but the heart of the matter is as Tony said - trust.

In most cases, these online friends I have known for years (like 10+) and if they asked if I was on G+ and how to find me, I wouldn't mind saying, this is my profile or email address. For that matter, most of my friends call me "Gina" and not Regina (at least not if you know me past high school).

I'm going to drop G+ because I can't be known as Gina. When I fill out an application, I don't use Gina. And in terms of Google, yes, signing up for the site is the same as signing up for all of Google's services - you usually sign in with your Gmail account, which is set up by filling out the sign up that asks for your name and all that good stuff.

You mentioned that G+ is different from Twitter, Facebook, etc; that's true. However, you can't have it both ways. If you want to keep people calling you Grand Masta Sexalot on Twitter, then you have to deal with the 140 character limit. There are shortcuts around it, but there you go.

I still have a good majority of friends on Facebook that probably aren't going to come over to G+. I still want to talk to them, but that means weeding through the useless game invites, fan pages of stuff that I wish I hadn't liked, and pointless updates that they changed their picture.

Again, you don't have to be on G+. There's Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace, etc. I happen to enjoy the different posts and POVs of people who aren't my friends (as mentioned, I spend more time talking to people I don't know vs the friends who I managed to wrangle over here). I'm a social person, I like talking to new people.

If I wanted to just talk (or rather view nonsensical posts) to the people I know, I'd be on Facebook right now. However, I'm enjoying having conversations with you and all the other people I don't know without a character limit or that of a wall of trust where I can only post to those people, even if I don't want those people to see those posts (like my former boss).

If that means people call me by my name, I guess I'll have to endure people using my name in conversations.
Pretty crappy response. Although I am using my "real" name (not my passport name, which no one but my immediate family knows), that response makes me NOT want to use G+
+Allie Prather, but does every site need to facilitate controversy? There are more sites that allow fake names than there are that enforce real ones. Google+, in a way, offers an alternative for those who are fed up with spammy, fake name sites that are full of aspiring comedians and perverts.

And yes, I could block and report spam, but wouldn't it be nicer for everyone if the network was set up in a way that stopped spam before it could get started?
I obviously use my real name, so the issue itself at this current time isn't mine. what IS my issue is that people I know have such issues, and therefore this will never replace facebook for me. I've heard the line "Google+ isn't facebook" enough, it's close enough that if a significant number of my friends/family aren't compelled to use this service, I won't be, either. I'm currently here, waiting for the Google team to quit shooting themselves in the foot and make this place what it can/should be. but until they do you'll be lucky if I make more than 1 post a month, let alone spend any time here reading others, or doing anything else with this service.
+Regina Woodard: Apologies if I'm wrong, but I see your response as "the current policy suits my needs, I'm in majority, and if foreigners with strange names have trouble, well, they're exceptions anyway". It's what Microsoft shops do by the "too bad it doesn't work for you, I guess you're just not a regular user" argument. Google is supposed to be above that, and to serve the Long Tail, not just a stereotype of A Regular User.

The parallel with online gaming is invalid because most online games do not give out your credit card name. Handing a "real" name over to a single central authority is different from using it "everywhere" in that there are much less points of risk; ideally just one. Blizzard attempted to implement a "real" name policy a few years ago. They had to give it up; the players did not appreciate this idea.
+Geoffrey Grabowski, I know a lesbian who hasn't come out yet, and she's on Google+ right now, using her real name. When she has something to say about the LGBT community, or about anything else that she doesn't want to share with the world, she limits it to her friends circle.
+Allie Prather Actually, you don't have to add people in your circle, nor follow them. I have plenty of people who added me to their circles that aren't in mine. In fact, there are people are here who aren't following or posting anything; just like there are blank Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook pages.

Again, it's the simple fact of people wanting to find you. Unless you know that I'm Agent 66 or WebMistressGina, you're not going to find me on either Facebook or LinkedIn or G+, unless I want you to. And frankly, if I know you and you ask, I'll probably send you an invite.

G+ isn't Twitter. Nor is it Facebook. I personally like the fact that I can now actually follow certain celebrities here that I couldn't on Twitter (cause Twitter's supposed to be professional).

+Tony Sharp Agreed. That's the reason why people are enjoying G+; if I want to bitch and complain about my last job, I can easily make sure that only my friends can see it vs having to group people awkwardly on Facebook.
+Colin Hill thank you very much. So it stands for "identity based service", in a sense, right?
then... I think Facebook would not have gone very far if people hadn't found many ways to ignore its "principles". I can't understand this obsession with names. As if names could tell anything. The only reason why one would want to know the real name is to get to the person in real life, even against their will. Let it be for commercial aims, or "police" aims... I don't like it. while I'm perfectly comfortable with dogs and fake persons.
+Geoffrey Grabowski fair point although (by implication) I'd also say it's a bit unfair for you to infer that these problems are the down to a PLC to solve for you. If there was a real name policy for everyone anyone who was committing any of the offences described would also be leaving a trail of evidence that the real world could then use to prosecute the offender (within a Google + environment) ..I'm not trying to 'have a pop' at you I'm simply stating that on public forums there are numerous views and solutions to things and sometimes you need to lend a bit of wait to how other people see things (much as I have done with your perspective).
For example I think you may find me a little unreasonable if I said that IF I sided with the real name policy that I then found your comment 'naive blaming-the-victim by Google fan boys' to be a little bit of 'bullying by name calling'?
it's also intuitive: fake name = read the words, real name = "read" the person :)
Those who are saying that people at risk should just stay off the internet are incredibly insensitive to the suffering of others. The web has provided tremendous support systems and friends for those who have no other outlet. If people in trouble need to use a pseudonym in order to access those resources, so what? Some people are self-centered and judgmental beyond words, not to mention uninformed. Get out of my sight.
K Robert
Two things amaze me here:

First, the bait and switch. "Primarily an identity service", not a social network. Wow. Admittedly, it was clear that they intended to extend the identity aspects of G+ more widely across the Internet, but to say primarily up front blows my mind. If that's the case, they've been lying to everyone, including their own staff (I was one til July), for over a year.

Second, the comment that "some people are just evil". Wait, did Eric Schmidt just call me evil for wanting to use the name I'm commonly known by? (See: Wow. Just... wow. It's hard not to take that personally.
He's worried about too many dogs signing up for Google+. You can't be too careful.
+Andy Carvin Would you mind if I referred the answer you received on this to the Information Commission, I think they will be very interested in it.
Thanks for asking the question, +Andy Carvin. It's certainly consistent with Eric "Not on G+" Schmidt's other statements on identity -- although as +K Robert points out it's a very different story than we've heard from everybody else on G+. Do you think Eric's just out of touch, or are they intentionally lying?
If Google+ is primarily an identity service then I am no longer interested. I quit Facebook last year because I don't want to wake up in a world where I lease my public identity from a private company.
+Scott Ellis you don't have any rights on somebody else's network. Your copyright is yours, your material is yours, but you don't get the option to participate on your terms -- that's all there is to it really. If Google is happy about G+ maxing out at 1/5th the size of FB then so be it -- it's all they're interested in...
fair point although (by implication) I'd also say it's a bit unfair for you to infer that these problems are the down to a PLC to solve for you.

The PLC (actually a massive multinational congerie of related entities with a manifold of legal organizational structures) is not operating a dump truck rental firm or a miniature golf course. They are not a start up, a small shop or an entrant into an new and unexplored marketplace.

They are presuming to provide a social outlet for tens or hundreds of millions of people. Having a responsible answer to issues like spousal abuse, stalking and bullying is incumbent on any responsible market entrant. I'm sure there were mechanisms for compliance with security forces demands for disgorgement of information built into the system from the ground level, when terror and international crime are a vanishingly small problem compared to bullying and spousal abuse.

The reality of the situation is that Google cares about monetizing users, period, even if it puts them at mortal peril to well-known and commonplace dangers. "Don't use the service" is nonsense. Why not omit all safety features from automobiles and enjoin the drivers to not hit anything?

If there was a real name policy for everyone anyone who was committing any of the offences described would also be leaving a trail of evidence that the real world could then use to prosecute the offender (within a Google + environment)

Irrational actors are not deterred by threat of prosecution. Prosecution is not always effective and legal recourse should not substitute for good design. Trial cannot bring back the dead.

I think you are supposing extraordinary things so that you can excuse neglect of a commonplace evil.

For example I think you may find me a little unreasonable if I said that IF I sided with the real name policy that I then found your comment 'naive blaming-the-victim by Google fan boys' to be a little bit of 'bullying by name calling'?

No, I think you are an actual dangerous naif, at large in the world, willing to blithely endorse pat solutions without looking at the long-term of unintended consequences. I think you're an apologist for people who are pretending to morality and civic-mindedness in the name of plumping up their cash stream. It's not a threat to you or (you imagine) to anyone you know, so it's just not a real issue. That's simply not the case.
It's good to hear so clearly from Eric Schmidt that Google intended to do the bait and switch with G+. Once people have signed on with their long term Gmail ID, believing that it is a social network, if their name is not Google approved, they have the choice to change it to a Google approved name, despite having used a different name for years on Gmail and other Google services, or get suspended, which would include losing access to the other Google services they've been using, as well as their Android apps!
K Robert
+Jon Pincus I don't think Eric's out of touch nor, honestly, do I think anyone's been lying, exactly (well, except maybe by omission or weaselling). But I think there's a bit of a "blind men and the elephant" ( situation going on here.

G+ is both a social network AND an identity service (as Facebook is, when using Facebook Connect to login to other sites) and it's not really surprising that that's the case. The surprising bit is that Eric would come out and say "primarily". From his point of view (and Google's board, and investors) yes, G+'s identity-related features are probably where they see the most potential profit. From a user perspective, it's not what we look for first and foremost in a social website. So there's a somewhere between Google's board and us (it goes: board, senior management, G+ management, G+ engineering team, G+ user-facing PMs and community managers, users) the messaging's been turned around. Probably by degrees. Eric thinks it's "primarily an identity service". Senior management thinks "the identity service is the most valuable part of the product". G+ management thinks it's "a valuable part of the product". Engineers think "it's part of the product". And so on, til it gets to people who sign up not even really realising it's part of the product at all, unless someone points it out.

And now Eric's pointed it out, people are going to have a rude awakening.
great description +K Robert, thanks much. it's a floor wax, it's a non-dairy dessert topping, it's two taste treats in one!

one thing i'm curious about is how people inside will react to this given the reports earlier this year that 25% of employee bonuses would be tied to success in social. i wonder whether the metrics are social-related, or identity-related?
It's very obviously an identity service. The criticisms are:

- Building an identity service for the world (outside China) is an audacious task, and Google is so far handling it naively.
- Trusting Google to build an identity service, on top of everything else, is a big ask. Google needs more goodwill to get away with this, not less.
- Google is letting down all the people who didn't understand that Google+ is an identity service, or who expected something else of the company.
+Paul Becker I personally use a pseudonym on Facebook to guarantee the people who add me have at least had a conversation with me. I had a huge problem with people tracking me down and adding me without me knowing who they were (which really isn't a problem on G+ since I use it more like Twitter, and the Circles are nice).

If Facebook deletes my account, I'll just say "oh well" and not use it again.

This is the way I look at the two services: Facebook has a sloppy implementation and a largely hands-off administration that only acts when their hand is forced (usually) while G+ has an excellent implementation of a social network with ridiculously draconian administration by Internet standards.

I thought going to G+ would save me from the woes of Facebook, but at this point I'm far more pissed off at Google about the way they've been dealing with the nymwars.

People may claim that having "real identities" is the way of the future, but pseudonyms were there in the beginning of the Internet and they'll damn well stick around for regular discussion and activity for a long time to come.

I just want to forgo using any of these companies in the end. Some hacks I've been coding and messing around with concern how a decentralized social network would look like. A proposal called DSNP is rather neat and worth taking a look at IMHO. (
Sorry, Eric, it is not a guesthouse we are visiting - it is a global infrastructure, that we are willing to use!
Read maybe half of the comments, and didn't see this point yet, so: If you have used the same pseudonym all over the Internet for years, and have linked those "Me" pages from your Google+ account, you are establishing clout for your identity. If I used my real name, no one would know who I am. I've spent the past 11 years establishing my "professional name," and have never used any other pseudonym. Google might do well to remember that in the beginning of the WWW, it was strongly advised not to use your real name.

An established, longterm pseudonym is not the same thing as changing your nym every six months because you've been banned as a troll everywhere under the current one. If longterm establishment and interlinked accounts don't establish a verifiable identity, then why do they have the suggestion to link to other "Me" pages to validate that name? (The question is rhetorical, but feel free to chime in on it.)
What a commode. He's a silly man.
+Jon Pincus I didn't pay close attention to the 25% bonus stuff while I was there, because I knew I was leaving and wouldn't get that bonus. However, Google bonuses in general are tied to lists of quarterly goals (known as OKRs) which are assessed as achieved, not achieved, or partially achieved, and then result in a numeric score which, in turn, is linked to bonuses. Don Dodge (a Googler) describes it here: (wow, that post kinda sucks, but I'm linking it to demonstrate that the existence of OKRs are public knowledge.)

OKRs follow a sort of hierarchical tree structure. The company sets OKRs at the top level, for all of Google. Then each department sets OKRs that feed into the top-level ones. This happens all the way down to small teams (eg. 4 people) or even on a personal level (personal OKRs aren't done by everyone, but some people use them as a way of managing their goals). At a small team level, the OKRs will be things like "release X and Y features this quarter". There are also OKRs for other groups at Google, for instance the product managers probably have OKRs about "produce X videos about Google+ and post them to the user community".

So, what are the top level OKRs for Google+ as a whole? I have no idea. I didn't look into them while I was there and I'm not sure they were even publicly available, because the team is so secretive. However, I doubt that the OKRs actually specify a number of signups, 7-day-actives, or any other quantifiable measure of user activity. How could they? They were launching something completely new and would have no idea what numbers to put there. If they put "100M users" is that attainable or ridiculously over-ambitious? Who knows. If there is an OKR based on figures like that, it's probably just one of many, so that it doesn't affect the overall bonus too much. More likely, the current OKRs (for Q3 2011) are based on product releases and feature rollouts.

Though, one thing to note... OKRs are set quarterly, and Google will soon be setting new ones (from the top down) for Q4. Now that they have some indication of the number of signups during field trial, user activity patterns, etc, they may be able to set OKRs based around that for Q4. So, who knows?

All this is speculation of course, but hopefully provides some insight.
+Allie Prather Because many people believe real names can improve the credibility and civility of the network.

Most sites already allow fake names. Why can't the people who prefer real names, and prefer networks where real names are enforced, have an option?

+Nom DeB, you don't have to look any further than a Justin Bieber or Rebecca Black video on YouTube to what happens when you let people say what they want behind the protection of an alias. And I highly doubt most of these people would have the nerve to insult Bieber to his face.
When I signed up in the first place, Google explicitly stated that what they meant by "real" was the name that people know me by. So I entered that, and the sign up form threw an error. Javascript validation, or something like it. So the only question left was which lie do they want?
+Tony Sharp - your non-out lesbian friend can post to her circles, sure. But what happens when someone she's met who's in her "sexuality" circle makes their own post? And it's public, or it goes to a circle whose membership she doesn't know? And she wants to comment on it, but she can't because she's using her real name and has no idea who will see it? And Google's search engine will now index her real-name comment as linked to that post if it's public?
WTF is an "identity service"? I think Mr. Schmidt (ex-CEO, BTW, +Andy Carvin) has just said "Oh, we've decided that it's better to be evil".

As I've been suspecting since the Real Names / #nymwars fight started, the rot goes to the top.
+Todd Vierling says "will probably cover even more over time" referring to the G+ real name policy possibly, someday, maybe extending to other google products. That's pure speculation. But regardless of what the future holds, there is nothing stopping you from using non-Google products that allow pseudonyms.
So there's no unintended consequence of offsetting the responsibility of the individual to a P.L.C? So Google+ sets the moral level of its users?

"Don't use the service" - Don't think I said that at any point or actually even implied it?

"It's not a threat to you or anyone you know" - Really?

"Maybe people who have opinions other than yours have a reason for them?" - Yep maybe they do?!?

"They are presuming to provide a social outlet for tens or hundreds of millions of people."

- Yes and maybe there also entitled to make clear HOW they would like people to use THERE service. (again don't start down the 'your saying people shouldn't use it' line - that isn't what I said or am saying - but if you offer a service WITH terms and conditions and in those conditions it states you need to use your real name I'm finding your point that because they run a social network site there now 'responsible' for anyone that commits the crimes you stated a bit odd.

"Irrational actors are not deterred by threat of prosecution. Prosecution is not always effective and legal recourse should not substitute for good design. Trial cannot bring back the dead.
I think you are supposing extraordinary things so that you can excuse neglect of a commonplace evil."

So what exactly are you suggesting Google can do if legal recourse isn't a deterrent? I think YOUR the one expecting 'extraordinary things'.

"No, I think you are an actual dangerous naif, at large in the world, willing to blithely endorse pat solutions without looking at the long-term of unintended consequences. I think you're an apologist for people who are pretending to morality and civic-mindedness in the name of plumping up their cash stream."

Right back at you sunshine!

"It's not a threat to you or (you imagine) to anyone you know, so it's just not a real issue. That's simply not the case."

Again helps if you quote what I said really doesn't it? When did I say it wasn't a real issue for people? And how on earth have you got the 1st idea what people I know may or may not be going through - that to be honest makes you sound ridiculous.

As I'm pretty sure the rest of the reader don't really want to keep reading us bickering about the same thing I'll stop posting on the stream, apologies if the length of the post is overly long.
+Todd Vierling , my apologies if my last comment came across as if I was telling you, or anyone, to "Go away" - I didn't mean to do that. I am simply saying that if someone wants to use a pseudonym, they should choose a community that allows or encourages it.

And I have heard the opposite regarding YouTube, hence why I mentioned it in my first comment, so I suppose we are both working off of rumors and hearsay :)

I'm curious why you are so vocally in support of pseudonymity and yet you don't mind using your real name here and on twitter?
the more I use G+ the less I like it. period. Not just because we can't use our handles, but because how the hell is google ever going to know that the 12,000 john smiths they have on the site are real names. People who do the worst damage to social media are those pretending to be some one else. Not the people going by the known internet names. Not the people posting as their dogs. Having this real names policy isn't stopping spammers/scammers and the like. Their business will continue as usual.
G+ is really annoying and poorly implemented. Things move while you try to read. There's no way to keep tabs on interesting posts and they tend to get buried before you even finish reading them.
+Jude Camwell There have been three times I felt someone was rude to me here, and all three used apparently real names.
I am startled to discover that Eric Schmidt, if your recollections are accurate, is a devoted, complacent, billionaire businessman, and a moral pygmy. I wonder what the Hell he thought about Egypt as it was happening (pseudononymously, led in good part by one of his employees who was putting his life at risk).
Scott S
Google must have a different notion of what "do no evil" means than I do.
+Scott Ellis - "Using a Pseudonym does not make you a 'fake person' - how can limiting someone's ability to express themselves result in a better representation of them online?" Well said.
I have used the same pseudonym on the internet for over 13 years. I have no intention of sullying this identity with troll-like behaviour. But Google+ policy means that people I know and have conversed with for years cannot easily find me as they do not know me by my real name. I work in the public sector and don't particularly wish my interactions on a social media site to turn up in a search. Dear Google - not EVERYTHING is about work and networking and yet this is how you are approaching this model. And as recent arrests & jail sentences for FB users inciting riots have proved, using your real name does not prevent idiocy
"If you’re not paying for it, you’re the product"

In order to Google make more bucks, they need you to use your real name.

Eric Schmidt knows this, the vast population don't.
Advertisers don't even need your name when you do buy. Someone in another thread reminded me of Google Checkout, which I hadn't thought of for years, probably. As I recall, I used it with a prepaid debit card. Another example, Paypal never verified my name, only my bank account and my shipping address.
+Todd Vierling Thank you for being willing and able to share with those of us here your background. I applaud the strength and growth it represents. While I am, if people are curious, indeed using my so called real name here, I have many friends who have over the years felt much more comfortable expressing themselves through the vehicle of a persistent pseudonym. I've been interacting with folks online since the days of arpanet and what not in the 80s. I would hate to have us reach a point where we lose out on the promise of the internet to enable people to communicate freely, to enable people to connect regardless of background. During my years in the Foreign Service, I handled both technology and human rights issues, among others, and so I feel a strong need to do what I can to help others secure the rights they should be able to enjoy. You and others here can count on me to be a voice of reason, respect and manners in support of tolerance and acceptance. I hope that, with all of us working together, we can show others that there is nothing to fear, nor is there any harm, in allowing others to have the freedom to define themselves as they wish.
+Todd Vierling You are right, but Google does a better job data mining the Web with your real name in order to find your past, present and future publications and build their "social graph" wich they use to provide a better service for the advertisers.

Virtual personas are cool and all, but with your real name its a whole new level, and you'd be amazed with the amount of data governments (for example) leak.
Did Google+ just group itself with the governments of Syria and Iran? Nice.

Google+ doesn't actually guarantee that we aren't dealing with "fake people"--witness its failure to prevent the Paul Krugman impersonator from posting in Krugman's name. By the time Google+ blocked the impersonator, the harm was done.

But Google+ has made itself clear: it's here as a marketing tool. Period. And if Google+ doesn't have your real name so they can bug the bejeebers out of you for sales purposes, they don't want to deal with you.

We aren't Google+ users. We're Google+ fodder.
+Leo G It's not that black and white. (A) I can still stay here, conforming to the terms, and try to argue for a change in policy, and (B) as a primary form of communication, it is immoral (not illegal) for Google to alienate those people who cannot communicate without a pseudonym; "you can't start a revolution by carrier pigeon any more". Corporations need all the pressure we can create to make them act morally, because they are so driven to profits, and they already have so much power, and that's not the most important thing. They can't just say 'this is my service, my way'. They are a part of society too.
Define pseudonym: "A pseudonym is a fictitious name used by a person, or sometimes, a group."

What is the label 'Google' then? Someone made that up.
+Terri Knoll It's like standing in a big city? Then are you also saying that people who want to control their privacy shouldn't live in cities either? And they shouldn't socialize with anyone? Or get a job (have you been jobless, the whole process of benefits is handled online now). Please be realistic. You deal with what you have. You can't function or socialize in modern society unless you use the internet. So you pick your risks (which vary from "I'd like to control who knows my name" to "my government will kill me if they find out") and you make your decision. Blanket statements that assume everyone is the same are not really helpful.
The irony is that I would love to have an identity service that would verify that my pseudonym does in fact own the web site, blog, flickr, and twitter accounts that bear my name. If Schmidt thinks identity is something that solely applies to physical addresses, he's trying to drag us kicking and screaming into the last century.
Eric Schmidt... who gets to define what is evil?

I grew up in Richmond VA a standard model geek in the 70's and 80's. One day shortly after I graduated from high school, I was going to my local game store, and the some members of Jerry Falwell's Thomas Road Baptist Church in Lynchburg outside my game store with picket signs. I tried to ignore the small crowd, and just walk in. A member of that church yelled at me that I was evil. Then he spit on me. Because I played Dungeons and Dragons.

Jerry Falwell decided Dungeons and Dragons was evil. I get screamed at and spit on.

I have not had much use for people who loosely throw the word "evil" around ever since.
Privacy issues aside, it would seem simple to keep everyone happy with regards to real names vs handles and their chances of being found by their friends. Why would they not just allow aliases to be listed in profiles?
Actually +Scott Ellis it is precisely that black and white. You can wish for, hope for, pray for anything you like. That doesn't change the fact that you are operating on their network and they make the rules. At this stage of the game they are fully aware of all the claims, situations, circumstances and whining. They'll decide (or not) to make some changes but with their rapid growth to this point I don't think they can even see the real impact that their policies will play in G+'s ultimate growth. What you have to come to grips with is that maybe they do know how much this issue will impact G+'s growth and they simply don't care. There are other social networks out there and everyone gets to make their own choices, every day, every post. For Google's part if G+ were truly Utopia FB's 750M+ would be beating down the doors to get in here -- they're not -- and that's black and white too...
+Ken Hunt I've found 90% of my existing friends here because I saw them in someone elses circles, or posting in comments. Putting the name I know them by in the profile wouldn't help at all. I didn't go through every name of everyone I could remember from 5-20 years ago and search to see if they were hear, I haven't searched for more than 3 or 4 friends.
Anyway, if G+ fails or changes or otherwise fall by the wayside can we still have the instant upload feature? I've really grown to appreciate this convenience.
How long until our countries start using Google+'s and Facebook's proprietary systems and install a Government-monitored Big Brother program? As in, we needing to have a complete profile stored in their databases and having them track our every move on the Web? (I know this already happens to some extent, but Google and Facebook ain't corponations ... yet?)

Scary, scary!
After read the long comments, I'm wondering is Google+ essential for us? It sounds like every internet user must have Google+ account. Else why is it so god damn important for Google+ to allow the fake name? (Seeking answer for this question)

This issue just helping them to advertise and make Google+ application become more ego and stronger. While internet is a free world for all, we can create a new social service as Google+. Maintain the right to dream and the things that we believe. As a software developer, I believe in problems and conflicts. If there is a problem there is an improvement. If there is a conflict, there is a need. I'm just a little ant in this ground (WWW). But I have the free time and energy to contribute for a queen or king that willing to build the better world (social application). I mean volunteer.

I'm seeking for the solution for this issue rather than argue and beg for Google+ or facebook to change their mind.
Blah, blah, blah, Google! If you're going to rest on, "G+ was build primarily as an identity service" and invite us to just go somewhere else, post a video featuring a Google employee who says, "We're very sorry you misunderstood the purpose of this platform. Now, let us help you learn how to extricate yourself from Google+ without losing all of your blog photos...."
+Leo G The fact that I am neither leaving nor 'coming to grips with' the situation here makes it obvious that this is not black and white: I am choosing a position in the grey area between. I'm not wishing or praying. I am actively trying to push the alternate view and will continue to do so. It is their network and their rules - few people are arguing with that. I do hope that they will be convinced, and I disagree that it is whining when we're talking about something that directly or indirectly relates to our rights regarding privacy and anonymity, which are under siege from all sides at present.
+Allie Prather You are right about the dependency of us on Google applications. Since everyone are using Gmail, GTalk, Calendar, Youtube, Android, etc, it could be naturally to just use the subsequent Google products. Google+ might not have much users after this or they might still growing strong. Whatsoever, we still depends on Google apps.

I'm not saying that not to use Google products. Sincerely, I love Google apps. However, this incident have raise the red bar of my privacy right, although I'm using the real name. I'm concerning all my internet information and profiles could be easily gathered and grouped by a single party. Who eventually could use it to analyze me and sell my information to other parties without my concern. Today it could be a small concern, since there are only Google+ (this includes all your Google apps and accounts) and facebook. How about 10 years later? Would I be governed by an internet government? Will I need a licence or finger print to online?

I rather the internet keep its balance.
I have been stalked and victimized relentlessly by two women who only use pseudonyms on the internet (many of them). Their stated goal is to destroy my life. I've never been through anything so devastating - literally thousands of page of crazy lies and accusations with my picture distorted and links sent out to all my friends, employers etc. it is as bad as anyone who hasn't been through this can imagine - yet neither of these two stalkers would do it with their real names as then they would be held accountable. I know the google+ names policy may not be enforceable that well, and that there are problems with it - but I hugely applaud the effort.
+Jillian C. York - hehehe ... I thought they already had one - didn't Eric step aside for one of the 2 founders? ... isn't he just Chairman or something - a 'government liaison' ? ... Funny how the government ties in here isn't it? People losing access to the Android Market because they cancelled their account ... this is going to hurt Android sales if people realize that they are tied to the profile whether they want it or not ... ;-)

Dogs ... evil ... he does realize he's speaking of some of Google's most ardent supporters ... doesn't he? ... I bet the PR department does ;-). This is going to blow up on them worse than Buzz did by the looks of it ... and honestly ... they deserve it. They did not know what they were doing and it shows ... even without the obvious issues with identity ... with the mess they've made - do you want them being your 'identity service'? I seriously think they drank their own Kool-Aid on this and now they're choking on it.

I've started an account on Diaspora ... Google copied them in a lot of ways ... it's still in Alpha and I have a feeling the fallout here is going to strain their systems (a lot of us nyms are heading that way) - this is far beyond Google having your identity but fundamentally how much of you are you going to allow to be bought and sold - not just in services like this but in being a wage slave - busting your ass so someone like Eric Schmidt gets to call you a dog. Think about it ... oh and if you want to think a little deeper - I suggest you check out the post I made for an ousted 'dog' who has a bit to say of the consequences of our handing over our identities and our lives ... A Call to Arms from a Voice in the Dark by the Heretic of Ethics who's account was pulled because they didn't like the looks of his name - I posted it here for him.
Melissa, I have friends who have had similar experiences. However one of them also said that she would far rather have online stalkers than have an offline one show up at her door with a gun. Another was almost raped by someone after she used her first name on Twitter. Nothing Google is doing will keep stalkers from signing up with real-sounding fake names. The stalkers dont care if their accounts get closed and they have to sign up again as Jane Smith. But what Google is doing will make it hard for you to obscure your name and yet keep your account and keep being found by your friends. Google's policy of real-sounding names (all it takes is a photoshopped driver's license to fool them, it's been done already) provides a false sense of security and eliminates many, many people who need to use pseudonyms to protect thrmselves.
Norv N.
He replied by saying that G+ was build primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they're going to build future products that leverage that information.
He also said the internet would be better if we knew you were a real person rather than a dog or a fake person. Some people are just evil and we should be able to ID them and rank them downward.
(my formatting)
I don't think I fully understand the entire picture here... I mean, add to it:
- rolling out authorship feature enhancements, by which on the author tag one can link their G+ Profile, for any pages around the web.
- the "Verified Name" feature on G+ profiles, and banning those who are not "using their real names".
- the supposition (I'm not sure I saw it officially stated) that +1 (which also depends on G+ Profile) and even the authorship tag may influence page ranking.
It is unthinkable to me to be looking at an integration of profiles and "identity service" rules into search at the level of relevance for ranking... I wish I could be sure that it will never - ever - be the case.
No +Leo G , as I keep saying you are oversimplifying. As I stated twice, google is under no legal obligation wrt our right to privacy in this instance. They have a moral obligation as an entity in our society, and we have more than a slim chance of changing their minds through constant peaceful and verbal pressure. So it's far from the end of the story.
+Leo G A company that uses the motto "Don't be evil" is under a moral obligation to explain themselves when their actions somehow seem to contradict that motto.

This is the year when social networks got a lot of credit for helping pro-democracy activists communicate with each other past state censorship and across state borders. Now I'm not saying that social networks single-handedly kickstart revolutions, but they have made a great difference, and the ability to use stable pseudonyms has been a huge part of that.

(In my experience, activists in the Middle East generally know that using social media entails certain risks, but the benefits – especially as everyone else is using it – are so great that they can't afford to stay away.)

Facebook has a real-name policy that it rarely enforces, thus maintaining a de facto stable-pseudonym system (and sometimes messing that up, re: Michael Anti.) I expected for Google to be less evil than FB on that particular issue, not more.

For Google, at this moment, to launch a social network, then bait-and-switch to say that it's not a social network at all, is strange. Saying that users from Syria and Iran should stay away is brazen.
I don't think Eric Schmidt is the right person to ask anything, you know he is just the chairman, now. I doubt if Larry Page or Vic Gundotra will have such gruff answers :)
I don't understand the discussion. If someone wants to remain anonymous, he can chose not to use Google+. It's not a life or death decision, is it? There IS a life without Google+.
+Allie Prather Depends on who's talking. Some are arguing that anonymity is the topic, even in the comments above.

To me it makes zero sense to be upset about it, also in the context of pseudonyms. It's Google's service and they have the right to set the rules, just like I have the right to set the rules for anything I might offer on my web site, and just like you can set the rules for anything you want to offer on your site.

BTW: Even with pseudonyms I think they could be linked to the real names. I doubt, though, that Madonna or Anthony Robbins will sign up here using their real names. :-)
Seems as G+ makes exceptions for famous people to use their artist names like Lady Gaga among others ... a friend of mine who has a artist name got banned by G+ and was forced to use his real name ... isn't he famous "enough" and/or how famous do U need to be (in US ?!?) to be able to use your artis name without getting banned by G+ ?!?
+Hanna Nikkanen The "Don't be Evil" motto, is really just a catchphrase.

Google as a group of people, is just as good or evil as any other group.

Like the great philosopher Snoop Dogg once said: "You got to get yours but fool I gotta get mine".
What in hades is an "identity service"? It makes it sound like G+ is contributing to my identity in some way rather than merely serving as a communications platform.
+Allie Prather: You make a good point. Real names won't completely solve the problem of spam. But as Google's verification algorithms improve, so will their ability to tell a real name from a fake one.

+Robert Scoble made an interesting suggestion in another thread that could probably appease both sides. Maybe the "verified name" mark that's used for famous people could also be used for people using real names? This would make it easier for "real name advocates" to connect with those who are here for serious networking.

+Sheila Marie: "Sexuality circle." Lol. And yeah, that could be a problem. If she just wanted to discuss and debate LGBT issues, a Facebook brand page might work best.

On a Facebook brand page, you can engage in conversations without ever revealing yourself; admins can be completely hidden from view. Hopefully Google+ will follow this example and allow anonymity at least on brand pages.
I think that internet services should consider it their moral duty to help people protect themselves under a fake name. Given that through the internet you get in touch and can be reached by virtually anybody, it's a way to protect our privacy. Something that we are entitled to by law in the "real world".
I simply cannot believe that G+ is really worried by trolls and flames. not at all
+Allie Prather, it's not just about spam. Some people feel more comfortable networking and doing business with people who are using their real name. It's a psychological, trust-building thing. Like some of the models I work with (I'm a part-time photographer) won't even schedule a shoot until they've talked with me on the phone.

When people don't know you, they rely on little things, like a real name, profile picture, how you speak, etc, to paint a picture of the kind of person you might be. This is one of the reasons why "real name advocates" are so in favor of using real names on social networks. It's easier to build real, meaningful relationships when people are open. And considering that most sites allow pseudonyms, I was kind of happy to hear that Google+ was planning to be one of the few sites that didn't allow them.

But I'm not hellbent on keeping fake names off of Google. There's probably a clever way to appease both sides. A verification check mark for real name users might be a start.
+Allie Prather: You may have missed my point. They are the ones who want to know my real name, and rely on phone conversations to learn more about me. Personally, I don't care, and I hate talking on the phone.
+Allie Prather: "Chief Fuzzy Nugget the Photographer." Hahaha. You'd be surprised how difficult it is to win the trust of some people, especially in the fashion industry. I used to hate posting pictures of myself online. But the week I posted one, my business improved significantly.

It would be great if people could measure your worth on your portfolio, but most don't. Before they can even begin to trust you, they want to know your real name, see your face, and get some kind of feel for your personality. To be honest, it's kind of annoying.
I think that each user profile should consist of a real name and maybe 2 or 3 pseudonyms. All posts would default to the real name unless the pseudonym is designated for a post. This would allow for the "Publius", "Cato", "Brutus", etc. of the Federalist and Anti-Federalist papers. The extra click or two to use a pseudonym would be a "click tax" which would still promote real name use. If someone desired, they could set one of their profile attached names to "Anon". All posts would have a feature like "verified user" that would indicate real name or pseudonym usage. These pseudonyms would not be fixed, but would have a 1 week cool-down to re-change to prevent Pseudo-Spam. Just one of many possible solutions, I'm sure.
+Melissa Kester And I have been harassed by someone proudly using her real name. In both cases it is the behavior and messages that can, and should, be called out and publicly shamed, or deleted, or ignored, as the case may be. Google's security theater isn't helping you, and it is harming those who cannot participate.
This is the only fact I need to know. The internet has exploded and thrived over the past 15 years WITHOUT this "Real Name" bullshit. Why the hell is everyone trying to be so damn clever with this double speak and hot-swapping of terms.

This is about targeted marketing.. it has NOTHING to do with security.
I've been studying and working in identity issues for some years, and I've been posting on this issue since Google launched the service. I'd invite anyone interested in the issues to follow my stream. I'm former executive director of the Tor Project, the folks who produce software protecting the identities of many of the Arab Spring activists as we speak.

Democracies in the free world have repeatedly shot down "identity services" in the forms of databases of real identities and correlated addresses and personally identifying information in formats that could be chilling to discourse.

+Justin du coeur and I and some others are working on a proposal for a "social stack" project which would pull in projects such as Tor, Diaspora, and others into a more up-and-down the layers/stack open solution for social interaction on the net, which would perhaps ameliorate some of the concerns about personal security, identity, privacy and data retention as our personal lives move increasingly into an online context.

I've said it on G+ many times: we can't speak of "online culture" in any meaningful way anymore. It's like talking about "telephone culture" or "movie culture." Where we interact, culture happens. There are details of law and fine points of etiquette, but essentially there is no Internet culture anymore. This is not the domain of nerds or geeks or hackers -- it is the domain of humankind, and we need to treat it as a frontier and a commons.

If we let the corporations own it, we are selling the moon, we are selling the ocean, the air, the water. We are selling our right to speak, and metering our right to listen to one another.

So, as we did at the beginning of this dance, we are proposing that we take parts of the project back into academia, NGOs, and to the hands of the interested public -- and yes, even into the hands of those parts of non-monolithic government who understand this need and will fund it without strings attached or backdoors installed -- and we will create a social layer of the net with articulated choices, produced by open and transparent organizations, without an architecture of coercive interests leading to harm to the innocent.
+Amy Rothstein Thank you for that article. However, I still moderately disagree with your viewpoint. If each g+ account had 3 approved and attached pseudonyms it would allow for posting publicly or in more open circles with a different name with personally identifying information obscured from public view. However, your posts to your family or other trusted circles would still contain your real name.

I understand the point your cousin's boyfriend cop is making about birthdays and addresses and agree. However, This information is generally share-able to your family and close friends.

Google+ gives you the option to post to circles, removing some discourse from the broader public. I think they need to consider the possibility of addressing some circles with a pseudonym with personal information obscured (wholly or to a user selected degree).

Again, you linked to a wonderful article that effectively communicates the dangers of posting personal information publicly. I sincerely hope the g+ team finds a suitable workaround, specifically for political dissidents and others in that category.
+Allie Prather Mr. Use-a-pseudonym-but-attack-others-for-wanting-to-do-the-same will have a better understanding of the other side of the issue, now that his own obviously fake profile name has been reported.
I agree with Google. Let anonymous and nickname users in, and the trolling and flaming will skyrocket. I feel sorry for those in repressive nations, but they have the horrid New Twitter and other social media to flock to. I wish them well and hope they achieve true freedom soon by non-violent means.
People will be evil or annoying with or without their real names. I don't think real names will weed out any bad stuff on G+, only push them to make up fake ones. They can "sell" us stuff without a real name. An IP goes a long way. As long as Google puts my full address, phone number, my husband's and my kids'(!!) names on the first page of their search results, it's first name only for me.

Maybe they can start a different feature on here for the "ID hungry/egocentrics" and the "I don't care if I'm ID'd." Or simply add the tag that confirms identity to average people as well, not just the most popular ones. (like Amazon does) That could help make G+ an ID service.

We'll see what G+ ends up to be, so far it's mostly learning and fun for me. If I want to be fully identified, I can go to linkedin and put up all my personal info there, or quora and be in the spotlight.
The only people such a 'service' would cater for are Google's 'customers'. ie: the advertisers they no doubt have lined up for this place.

This has nothing to do with protection or transparency etc. It's all do with making money for Google.
When your take-out folder is complete, let me know how you read it if you wouldn't mind...
A few years ago, I looked my real name up for Internet information, and even on a free service was able to find out the rough ages of the people I lived with, the house value, and various other things.. I forget the website as that was a while ago, but before you go happily trotting along with real name policies, just think who has free access to you and yours information.
+Leo G: that's not true. Private data sources aggregate and distribute data far more promiscuously than government agencies do. Case in point: DMV records in California. Thanks to an actress murdered by a stalker, they cannot be released. However the same information is available from many other sources.
my concern is, their "real name" policy is rather a "normal name" policy. In the last week, I potentially identify 2 fake profiles, but those people have a normal name.
The first guy has an obviously fake picture (of a famous celebrity), but he went and circle only everyone I circled. online stalkers are creepy!
The second guy actually copied my entire profile write-up....
I want to report them, but they have a "normal name"... how can I even know they're not them? And really, real name or not, it's their behaviour that I am concerned about right now, not their identities.
Bureau of Automotive Repair comes to mind. It's an exceptionally clean dataset too, which puts to lie the canard that government can't do things right. But more generally, name and address are trivially discoverable: Lexis Nexis, Pipl, ZabaSearch, MyLife, and others.
Andy I know personally that when I am reading a blog post or an article I appreciate to see real names underneath it where the comments are. That is one of the downfalls to Facebook is that everyone was creating pseudonyms and it was becoming a mess. G+ please stay clean!
+Logan Guinaugh Real names, or names that look real? And are you comfortable with the fact that this means that you won't see many experts speaking up on the areas in which they have experience? Government employees, teachers, psychologists, doctors, etc.? Never mind those who do not feel that their jobs, family or social circumstances allow them to speak using their legal name.
+Leo G In a capitalist society, the way you institute social change is by putting pressure on companies to change their policies; whether it's private bus companies, Macy's lunch counters, or Google. If you don't like seeing these protests, you are of course free to go use another social network. :)
+Kee Hinckley Interesting point you make. However, why would an expert choose not to speak up in areas they have experience, under the circumstances of having to use their real name? I can think of some reasons myself, but I still don't think that the vast majority of intelligent people that we all want here on G+ are worried about using their own name.
+Logan Guinaugh No, the vast majority are not, but a significant minority are. For an example of the psychologist, read here:
Consider a teacher who wants to talk online about religion. Or the government employee who wants to talk about politics. Or more specifically there's the health services employee who was recently forced to stop blogging about the importance of vaccinations because an anti-vaccination activist threatened to sue his department.

I also object to your implication that worrying about exposing your name online isn't intelligent. A name online trivially leads to your address. You don't walk down the street with a sign on your head telling strangers your legal name, but that's what Google wants you to do here. And furthermore, they want to attach that name to every single thing you've ever written publicly. The only alternative is to never speak in public forums. I have a friend who was almost raped because she let her name become known online. I have friends who would lose their jobs if their boss saw some of their public posts—on subjects that are perfectly legal. We should no more tell those people to not talk publicly then we'd tell a rape victim to never leave their house again.

For more examples, see the "Who Needs a Pseudonym?" section in my post at, or or "Who is Harmed by a Real Name's Policy" at
+Leo G Only when using my real name. Not under the few pseudonyms I use. I'm not afraid of A company knowing it. I'm wary of having to share information which up to this point has been more or less optional. Here's the longer version.

I suppose that the response from a Google partner (angry birds- rovio) which was effectively: "Google and Other people are doing it, so this is the standard and OK way to do things" is just not good enough.This was in response to asking why A game needed real names and birth dates and locations. All part of G+'s information store.

I suspect that the majority of people do not plan on misbehaving, even though most people are not saints. What I suspect people have a problem with is the decree of "Thou shalt tell your real name or be kicked out of Google's happy land"

If I want people to know who I am, that is fine, but it should be my choice to. It's not like Google is going to be able to sort out people better, knowing very commonly found names compare to the 21 digit ID's they already use. I fail to see what benefit this could possibly have other than information gathering for Google.
If as you say, this information is released, and accessible . Who in their right mind would want to make it easier for John Q Stalker to find someone? Does that paint a clearer picture why I think this is a bad Idea and why this is not so much about Google, but about any company which demands personal information with the threat of account termination if it's not given. Personal information should never be blindly handed out online.
+Shava Nerad , please do update me if your team need some volunteer developer. I'm free for human-right
+Tony Sharp How does she find other lesbian who haven't come out of the closet so they can share their experiences? How does she feel that she can't comment on the posts of people who are out? When someone else who is in the closet shares something with a restricted circle, how does she know that there isn't a co-worker or neighbor (with or without bad intentions) in that circle? And of course, fundamentally, just because it works for her, is that reason to force it on anyone else who wants to use Google's services that use profiles?

And on the subject of spam. What keeps the spammers from using real-looking names? Google isn't going to be checking the driver's licenses of 25 million people, let alone 250 million. This policy does nothing to prevent people from signing up who don't care about getting their account cancelled after a few posts. It does keep away the people who wish to have a persistent identity and make friends and conduct business while controlling who learns their real name.

Think about how strange this policy is. In the real world, you determine who learns your name, when they learn it, and how much of it they learn. Google on the other hand, wants perfect strangers to know your name. You and I may be fine with that, but is it isn't surprise that a lot of people, particularly ones who have been burned in the past by stalkers, rapists, trolls, and more, would want a little protection?
Thank you Google. This will make it much easier for governments to track down dissidents who step out of line.
And while everyone seems to be surprised, that was to be expected, wasn't it? From profiled searches to tracking your web usage, it is only logical that an identity service would boost the analytical capacities of Google to profile you as an individual. very helpful to then see what your friends are googling for, how do those Picassa albums are shared.
That is THE price of your free gmail, Google maps and all the other services. Oh, and don't forget to add chrome in the picture!
Are you covering this event? Are you on vacation? What are you doing there?
I was invited to speak at the TV festival and the politics festival. I spent my free time hanging out at the book festival.
Hi +Kee Hinckley: Some of us want to use pseudonyms. And some of us would prefer a network where only real names are used. Google should try to implement a solution that can satisfy both sides.

The best idea I've heard so far is to give real name users a way to verify their name (maybe with their credit card?), and to place a "verified name" check mark on their page.

For those who feel more comfortable with networking and engaging in conversation with real name users, this would provide a quick and easy way to verify the validity of a name. And concerns relating to pseudonym use like spam, etc, would likely subside.
Eric Schmidt is a problem... for internet users everywhere in the long run, but certainly the vanguard right now. Identity is controversial when it is enforced by Government (ID cards, Passports) and used to control and monitor access to real places by special armed bodies of men, but in the hands of the few corporate players that control financial and information access, it becomes a tool of potential repression even more so.

The excuse, always provided by those seeking identity control is: Don't do anything we don't want you to do, and you have nothing to worry about.
+Tony Sharp I'm fine with that. In fact I'd really like it if Google allowed me to verify my pseudonym. It doesn't have to be verified as having a physical address, but I'd like the links on my profile to my other accounts and web pages to be verified as belong to me. To me that's far more useful than proving that my name is "John Smith".
+Leo G You've lost me. I have absolutely no idea what you're referring to WRT Google and hanging chads. What did I claim I didn't know then, that I know now?

Chads, on the other hand, I have some experience with. I can't speak for Florida. But I do know that every time I buy a 14 ride train ticket, I get about 2 free rides because of hanging chads left by the conductor.
Hmm...Google's real name policy is little risky as many may not want to share their real name or primary email address in a group. The power of identity management comes from the flexibility the system provides to decide what and how I want to share my information. As many of you pointed out you may want a nick name to be used ('cause that's how you are known in your friends/colleague circle) or an alternate email address. Honestly Google should provide that flexibility for each of their services.
he is right..In my opinion, fake identity sucks!!
"Not an exact quote" isn't exactly an acceptable (unverified) form of information about the CEO of one of the most important companies in the world...I'll have to wait until an official release on this one.
Sometimes Google seems more concerned with non-anonymity than with privacy. I'm not an anonymity fanatic, but this smells a bit authoritarian, like a slap in the face to "bad boy" hackers, anarchists, and rebels who view anonymity as a right, rather than an agreement between a user and a service provider. But not everybody who wishes to remain anonymous is in that group - why so stubborn, Google?
I'm just wondering if google even knows what they're doing with plus. Buzz was monumentally screwed up. It is hard to imagine anyone doing worse than google did then. With g+, they do have a much improved structure when compared with facebook and twitter, but if google is not trying to network people online regardless of how they name themselves online, then google is just missing the market again. Facebook'S DNA is about exploiting its users as much as the users will take. Google has always been about providing a service with a lower profit margin and a bigger audience and owning everything at the low price point.

And google having not spelled out any coherent outlook just tells me I'm right. Google's left hand writes a great social networking algorithm, the right hand takes it picks its nose and wipes it on the outline, then google's foot kicks itself in the head, "Hey, what's up with g+?" The head responds, "The world will work better when everyone does as we wish." The right hand tickles the left, "Go on. Punch him. He's out of his mind!"
I'm so glad the Eric Schmidt is no longer the CEO. He might be a good strategist and manager, but he has also a big mouth, speaking all sorts of inadequate comments.

But being fair to Google (not Schmidt), they've done a great job to protect information stored in Google's premises (Gmail, GDocs, etc) of the most wanted political dissidents.
Real names are an asset. Google wants to make as much money out of users as possible.
The big deal is not what you do in google but what you like in other peoples projects and what you buy or have ever looked at. Adversitements are following you and you will get personal news one day. Everybody gives you suggestions after whatever algorithms allready today. Not Wapo!
Andy - it looks like you've yet to be verified. I wonder how this process actually works.

I've been verified - but Google did it automatically - without notifying me of the process or of the result.
everyone seems to be missing the real point. according to the supreme court of this country it is your legal right to carry out business at any time by any name "at will". in other words, you can change your name to john doe this second and mary hasbeen the next and they're both every bit as legal as what you were born with. legally speaking google doesn't have a valid point of any kind when they exclude someone. to be able to prove your name is a more difficult thing, but then, according to the supreme court you don't have to prove anything. you are who you say you are.
Make not really sense for me. What's the difference between using a pseudonym or use "Eric Schmidt" as a fake-real-name? This would make only sense for me if Google offer a verification for everyone.
Am thoroughly enjoying the Google 'Real Names' debate on here and elsewhere...

Am on Google's policy side generally here though allow that implementation details need to be worked out - the great thing is that the debate is happening in a very public manner Folks and let us not loose sight that in of itself is a privilege as it would not be raging to this extent if we believed there would be no influence whatsoever.

Personally I think there is a happy compromise where people can choose to declare their 'Anonymity' or 'Real Name' status, use whatever pseudonym they want in the first case. This gives the opportunity to those who prefer dealing with 'Real Names' or more meaningfully, ' Real World Identified Persons', the ability to do so.... In practice I see more persons going with the 'Real World Identified Persons' identity eventually as it will be of more use to them in a social context. Also I can then choose to let 'Nyms' that I am already acquainted with into my Circles whilst as a policy filtering those that I do not know - until I take the active step of allowing them into my stream. Hope that makes sense.

However, my take is that this Google real names debate, whilst entertaining, is superfluous in the medium to longer term and here is why (apology, that this is mainly off the cuff and perhaps not as well articulated as well as it could be..)

The Big Picture? Where will we be of necessity in 20-30 years time? All digital interactions will be completely identified (to be of any value to the participants involved).

All trends from the inception of the internet (indeed of mass communication before that) show that that is the way the internet/communication is headed...the logic driving this is bigger than any particular company or organisation, governmental or non-governmental. The interminable logic behind this in my view is that it is the very nature of Social, the one great big World Village where everyone knows/can find what else everyone else has been up to.... if they choose to do so, because all will be recorded and and in this technological digital world, record-able on media means accessible

Each person/organisation/thing will 'own'... or at least have access to in one place .one half of all their interactions with other parties/objects throughout their lifetime of interactions. This will be in the Cloud.

There will be no secrets per Se... at least not ones worth keeping.... and it won't matter anyway.

In the gush of transactions in the Now Stream... who will care about what was said yesterday, let alone a year ago? Already, look at the news and how stuff that 'really mattered' last month no one cares about now. At a personal level, how often do you trawl through your facebook/twitter/G+ etc streams to find stuff you have 'missed'... for the younger generation even less so than pre-internet users...

All that matters is the NOW stream, your last interaction. Better make it an Authentic one. Means you have you have to keep re-inventing yourself every moment in your community of choice in the NOW to have any influence whatsoever... and your influence will count for NOW only.

For those that choose to trawl through past data in the hope of finding 'secrets' to us against others... the nature of that means they will find that of waning influence as they will not by definition be participating as heavily as they could in the NOW Stream.

The great thing about this trend is that it applies to ALL, it is the real democratization of information in a world where the biggest benefactors of ' controlling secrets' in the past were always the rich and powerful. As Wikileaks, the hackers and suchlike activities(tip of the mountain) have shown it is getting more and more difficult to keep 'important' information secure.... Where we are headed is even where the leak busters activities (the new power brokers) will be open to scrutiny...

Welcome to the brave new world of NO Secrets worthwhile keeping...
I'm a bit unclear about what "real name" means. According to the US Census Bureau's statistics pages, there are about 1800 Americans with my name. How will google+ distinguish us? There's a lot of history telling us that organizations normally have a lot of problems with this. I've also seen a number of lists that jumble together all the publications by people with my name, making us look like a single person with very wide interests. More confusing is that several of us work with computers, and we are all routinely given credit (or blame ;-) for things written by the others. Pseudonyms are one of the ways that authors have dealt with this in the past, but there seems to be a growing policy to block this sort of solution.

So is there any evidence that google+ is any better at distinguishing people with the same "true name" than other organizations have been? Or will it be like the airline security people (for example), who are notorious for blocking anyone on their "No Fly List" with a name similar to someone on the list?

Legal names are a really crappy way to identify people. The problems are quite well known. So far I haven't read anything about how google intends to solve these problems. The obvious expectation is that they'll just make it worse.

And no, I'm not the CEO of Cisco Systems. ;-) I've never worked for Cisco. Not that I'm worried about that particular confusion. ;-)
Anonymity needs to exist on the internet, but it does not have to be everywhere.
Forget anonymity for a moment -- I know people who are afraid to use the names every single person they know knows them as, for fear that they'll lose the ability to use G+. Trey, Skip, etc are not "real" names, but it's the name everyone knows them as. It's beyond ridiculous they can't choose to have people find them in that way.
So is Eric Schmidt telling us to downvote all the dogs, because they don't belong on the internet after all?
Regarding the Real Name policy that Google is still embracing in the face of overwhelming public opposition, according to the transcript Schmidt says, "If you think about it, the Internet would be better if we had an accurate notion that you were a real person as opposed to a dog, or a fake person, or a spammer or what have you."

And I think that's great for people who want to use the name that their parents or orphanage gave them at birth. But the issue has been a point of contention for political dissidents, victims of domestic abuse, and transgender people among many others. I don't have much to say on this issue because it seems obvious to me that the policy is wrong and I'm not sure how one would further clarify that fact. A person's identity is created of their own volition. Any statement to the contrary would be easily categorized as oppression. If Skud's real name is Mary Jane Goodwife (which I just made up) but she wants to be called Skud, what business is it of a corporation to tell people to call her Mary Jane?

Eric Schmidt goes on to say in defense of the Real Name policy:

"if we knew that it was a real person, then we could sort of hold them accountable, we could check them...we could, you know, bill them."


"...people have a lot of free time and people on the Internet, there are people who do really really evil and wrong things on the Internet, and it would be useful if we had strong identity so we could weed them out. I’m not suggesting eliminating them, what I’m suggesting is if we knew their identity was accurate, we could rank them."


"...the Internet came out of universities where the issue of authentication wasn’t such a big issue. Everybody trusted everybody, you didn’t have these kinds of things."

The first two comments are disturbing for obvious reasons of leading down an Orwellian path. This last comment though reminds me of the type of person who says they don't "trust" Wikipedia. My problem isn't with their lack of trust in a user powered encyclopaedia, my problem is that they seem to think that they are expected to trust Wikipedia, or that I and all the other people who use it place our trust in Wikipedia. The problem here is the person who doesn't understand why encyclopaedias list sources. And I would say to Eric Schmidt that the best thing about the internet and about Google is that you don't have to blindly trust anything anymore. I have never spoken so much as a word to Skud online or otherwise, but I would trust it to be true if she told me something. And I would also find out for myself whether or not it was true. The two concepts don't need to exist independently of each other. Wikipedia is great now for the same reason it has always been great. Because the sources of each statement are included. And if they're not you can find out for yourself whether or not an assertion is true and base your trust on your own research. This idea that you can't trust someone because they're not adhering to the rules used by a third party in order to define their identity is a dangerous idea. Not only does it hypothetically preclude putting your trust in someone that a corporation, in this case Google, has refused to positively identify, but it also makes people more reliant on the concept that there ever exists one single source of information that can be trusted, which has never and will never be the case in any situation.

And regarding the enforcement of Google's Real Name policy in Syria and Iran, Schmidt goes on to say:

"There, there’s no assumption of privacy, everyone assumes that the Internet is bugged and that the secret police are after them. So their sensibilities are extremely different."

Hmm... So it's ok to further erode the privacy of citizens living in a totalitarian state where "the secret police are after them" because they are already living in an oppressive country and they're used to it...?
So would it then be ok to continue to outlaw anonymity should an open society such as our own devolve into a society regulated by "secret police"?

I think Eric Schmidt is probably a brilliant man, a great CEO, and technologically innovative. And maybe he does have good intentions and only needs to choose his words more carefully, but this issue should not even be something that he's working on. There's no reason why someone working in a field as highly specialized as software development should be making decisions in the field of journalism and politics and most importantly identity. These are decisions which affect human beings utilizing the largest communication platform to ever exist. One which has been shown to be highly effective in political and social revolution. These are decisions which affect human beings who are living under brutal regimes all over the world. Neither a software developer nor a CEO should ever feel they are able to tackle these issues without the proper understanding of political and social complexities, an understanding which he has, I think, sufficiently demonstrated to be lacking.

And on another note, consider this. The Google chrome notebooks are beginning to enter the market. The notebooks only function as a cloud device. So what happens when you get locked out of the cloud? Or when your account is terminated? Do you have rights as a consumer now that you have purchased this hardware which relies entirely on proprietary cloud software to run, and your account has been turned off by Google? What rights are guaranteed to you at the time of purchase? I think that there are legal ways to address the issues, and I think there are laws which already exist in most cases that are appropriate to them. They’re just not being applied. I presented in my letter to Google what I consider to be valid criticism of deficiencies within user-powered communities that are evolving online and summarily forfeiting many rights that should be inherent in any community, virtual or otherwise. We’re acknowledging a new type of identity in the world, why not get its rights sorted out from the start. Rather than governments trying to play catch-up to the tech companies.

As Google says in their own words, to their investors:
Who are our customers?
Our customers are over one million advertisers, from small businesses targeting local customers to many of the world's largest global enterprises, who use Google AdWords to reach millions of users around the world.

And as Mathew Ingram sums up in his article:
As the saying goes: If you’re not paying for it, then you’re the product being sold.

I’m unaware of any company that feels responsible to their product. And if I’m to understand that they’re responsible to their customers, the advertisers, I don’t want “the world’s largest global enterprises” dictating my identity or choosing who in Syria is granted a voice on the world stage. This affects everyone, whether you use social networking sites or not, because it affects the people who do, and if their freedoms are allowed to be compromised it is a human being's freedom being compromised, not an avatar’s. And it is of paramount importance that a citizen living in an oppressive country feels comfortable expressing themselves to the world community freely and completely and without fear of reprisal. Even more so if “the secret police” are currently inhibiting the other existing channels of communication.
My feelings from earlier: "Don't be evil" is a good motto and model for Google, but they need to remember that we don't work for them, they work for us, and we are not bound under their motto so I can be evil as I wanna be if I so choose and they can shove their identity rankings up their arse. . .
Is this new news? How hard have many of us been working to get our names "Tara Husband" (mine for example) indexed on Google? Plus our businesses, place pages, maps, calendars, etc? Most of us have contact management systems - and we want REAL names in the field otherwise it doesn't work. Why should Google be different.

The goal for all social media services is to understand it so you can USE IT as a utility and not let them use you.
I did nothing to prove my identity when I subscribed to Google+. How, exactly, does anyone at Google know that I am in fact named +Terry Walker ? Google search has records of me as "Mellow Tigger" that go back to usenet discussions long before there was even any Google.
Thank you for asking this question, Andy. I needed the answer. And thanks for all your hard work collating and sorting on Twitter. I have depended on you through all the events of this year.
It is ironic that you choose to share the transcript on G+ where people have to have accounts to see it...
So if G+ was to suspend or cancel my account, as it is integrated with my Google account I would loose all data saved on emails, analitics, and other Google products is that right?
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