What's in a name? Don't worry, Google+ will tell you.


The Internet: Wow! Google launched a new social media service! Yay!

Google+: Yes, we're just in time to save you from Facebook's privacy violations and Twitter's treacherous shortness. Look, you can assign different people to different "circles" and then, when you post stuff, you can control which of your social circles gets to see what! Isn't that cool and way more non-evil than Facebook?

The Internet: It really is! Thank you, Google! Um, what's this Profile thing?

Google+: To use Google Plus, you have to create a Google Profile so we can connect all your Google stuff together in a not-at-all creepy way. No big, you can choose how much of your private information other people can see.

The Internet: Thank you, Google! …Wait a minute. We have to provide our real names?

Google+: Yes! This is a social network and we want the name that you commonly go by in daily life, so it's easier for people to find you.

The Internet: What if our real names aren't the ones we commonly go by?

Google+: No problem! There are little fields for nicknames and others names, just use those.

The Internet: And those will be displayed instead of our real names?

Google+: Of course not. Your real name will show up anyway.

The Internet: But I want my non-real name to be the one displayed!

Google+: So use it! But keep in mind that it's a violation of our TOS, and if it gets flagged your account will be immediately suspended without warning, and oh by the way that might also affect your access to other Google products so it's a good thing you don't use any of those.

The Internet: How would it get flagged?

Google+: By someone flagging it. Anyone, really. Or if you make a change to your name in your profile and it doesn't look right.

The Internet: What kind of name wouldn't look right?

Google+: Any name that doesn't fit in a one-first-name/one-last-name style or just sounds, you know, weird.

The Internet: Huh. Who decides if a name sounds weird?

Google+: An ill-trained and overworked Google employee with a book of English baby names. His name is Nick, you'd like him. But it's not a big deal, really. We want everyone to feel comfortable joining us!

People who fear stalkers, sexual predators, abusive exes, criminals they've arrested, violent bigots, or others who might do them physical harm: Can we use fake names?

Google+: No.

People who fear reprisals from family, friends, and/or employers over controversial religious, political, or sexual opinions: Can we use fake names?

Google+: No.

People who fear harassment, arrest, or death from oppressive regimes for political dissidence: Can we use fake names?

Google+: No.

People who have already built up a substantial following and reputation with a pseudonym, pen name, stage name, avatar or entertainment personna: Can we use fake names?

Google+: No.

Women who have a more pleasant online experience when they're not being hit on all the time: Can we use fake names?

Google+: No.

Teenagers whose parents don't want them using real names online to avoid being targeted by pedophiles: Can we use fake names?

Google+: No.

People in and outside the U.S. with names that do not fit in the first name, last name format: Can we use our actual names?

Google+: No.

People with real, legal names that just sound weird: Can we use our real names?

Google+: Almost probably!

+Lady Gaga, +Snoop Dogg, +Soulja Boy, +50 Cent: Can we use fake names?

Google+: Of course! We want everyone to feel comfortable joining us!

The Internet: How do we prove our name is actually our name?

Google+: Nothing could be simpler! Just provide a government-issued ID and we might very well believe you!

People without ID depicting the name they want, people in countries where electronically transmitting an ID is illegal, and people who simply don't want to share ID with an online service without guarantee if how and how long it will be stored: Any other ways?

Google+: Yeah, whatever, give us a link to your Facebook page or something.

The Internet: But couldn't people just make up whatever fake name they wanted as long as it sounded like a normal North American white Anglo-Saxon name and you wouldn't care?

Google+: Probably. The point is, the system works.

The Internet: Couldn't you just require our real names to sign up, but let us choose what names are displayed? You could even let us choose which identities would be displayed to individual circles, which would make Google+ an even more amazing and useful social network.

Google+: Sorry, what? We were busy telling our advertisers about the incredibly targeted information we can provide. But hey, thanks for commenting. Google wants to hear your feedback. As long as we like your name.
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