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In the hangout earlier today someone asked if Google+ was taking down profiles when users didn't use real profile pictures.

I said I didn't believe we were but would check. It turns out we are not currently taking down profiles with profile pictures of non-people unless they otherwise violate our community standards (example: they shouldn't be obscene).

At the same time, please remember Google+ is committed to helping people connect with people they know and to feel safe sharing and communicating. We believe using real names and real profile pictures is the best way to create that kind of environment. Thanks for the great questions today!
Lisa Oldham's profile photoAndreas Schwartmann's profile photoRaphaël Barzic's profile photoBrian Clary's profile photo
thanks for the clarification.
Erik West
thanks for reaching out instead of us having to go to google groups with our questions.. :)
Does that apply to obviously fake names, as well?
Its good to know that Google staff is intent in really interacting with their members, and very responsive to our suggestions, questions, and concerns. What a great company !!!
Thanks for the response. That was me that asked that question earlier.
Will these public hangouts continue after the beta ends? :)
How do we reactivate a profile that was suspended due to not a real name? 
can i know when the official help forum of g+ would be launched >
@Adam , sorry but i know this already , i am not talking about help group about google help forums like orkut , picasa etc , the help group lacks many things
Thanks. However, your comment implies but does not directly state that the policy is different for people who use profile pictures that are of people, but not photos of themselves. Do you know how that's being handled? Is it different if it's a drawing or a fictional person, or a photo of someone famous ( a common practice on some other social sites is for people to use well-recognized famous people's headshots with different facial expressions for different kinds of posts ), or a photo of some individual who is neither the poster nor famous?
Hi there, I am stuck with an odd username of . . where can I change it? Will I be penalized for having it?

Why is there an issue over having a human on the profile picture, surely people have a right to retain some privacy? After all this is not the free for all of fb, thats what I see as the entire point of G+. Cheers
Oh, Nayan... sorry I misunderstood... and unfortunately I have to say that I don't know :(
I actually disagree. Its a hole that Facebook created and one reason I won't use it (except for a dev mock profile), that is attaching a users history and silly amounts of personal information and holding it as trying to be authentic. Twitter is about ideas, google+ really need to understand that a Avatar or personar based system helps this. I would prefer tight control of how google+ presents me, a personar/avatar helps that. Do I want people to see my mug? Bringing back the skull.

"Google+ is committed to helping people connect with people they know and to feel safe sharing and communicating. We believe using real names and real profile pictures is the best way to create that kind of environment."

Protection? Safe? Remember social services are scourged by the likes of "Social Intelligence" and used to form reports on a persons employment prospects. Something that can be highly taken out of context. Also the continuing hit from hackers stealing identities. The less online about ones self the safer you are. Safety from reaction/incrimination about contentious ideas! This won't be helped! Its the reason Twitter reins for broadcasting political ideas in sensitive times.

I am highly concerned about a moral majority stance from "Community Standards", yes we need ways of removing blocking spammers but you need to consider the majority cannot determine a standard for all. We suffer a suffocation of BS from mainstream media, ideas need to be free, trying to be a standard police is not the way to go. People just need a way of "ignoring" people streams and that is that.

Google are interested in topic profiling, by removing the need of absolute authentic that can be helped. Its my field of research. Google+ needs to take these steps carefully.

I could go on. If you need more focus feedback ping me.

Elliot (off to change my profile pic)
+Elliot Rock I had a really amazing experience today on Google+. In the comments of the post where I announced I wanted to have a hang out later in the day, someone said "Dear Frances, I'd like to request a more intimate hangout with you. Thanks. :)" and another Google+ user (+James Pakele) commented back to the original poster and publicly said "That's highly inappropriate...". Which was awesome.

Many men don't appreciate how many seemingly civil places on the internet degrade mystifyingly fast into really hostile places for women. Prominent women bloggers frequently get sexual comments on their posts or even threats against their physical safety. I felt so incredibly proud for the Google+ community when I saw James prompting to the poster that it wasn't appropriate to say something like that about me.

Would this have happened in a place that didn't try to encourage people to interact like they would if they were talking face to face? In place that didn't associate people's names with what they said? Who knows. All I do know is there was clearly a sense of "this is a place where civility manners" because others were willing to speak up and make it a safe place for me. And for that, I <3 you Google+ users!
That is an example of a natural social veto'ing. What I am concern about is reactional "Policing" of those situations. Yes I agree with safety being a concern for females and that comment from a internet strange is inappropriate.

The systems need something akin to ignoring rather than a forum type system (and youTube which is a horror of open comments) where outside monitoring is needed.

But face to face isn't necessary about an actually face of someone, (gee thats a bad string of thought there). My concerns are about an abstract of authentic and attachment of topics/comments being used to incrimination people.

Right now Google+ is riding on the backs of what I see as being the social service adept. Using this time before the hordes arrive to hone in on what Google+ is going to be. Please I don't want this to be facebook. Allowing for Avatar/personars to exist is very important, just as much allowing for a safe environment.
+Sai . makes great points. Also a caution that just because anonymity (and I'm still not sure this is proven) can breed uncouth comments, that doesn't mean that the community taking care of one another and being civil hinges on non-anonymity.
I use an image that isn't myself because I, as an artist, want to maintain a different presence on Google+ than Facebook. My profile picture is a self portrait of mine, though my face isn't visible. I want to have an account that will allow me to interact with my friends in the ways I choose to, while simultaneously putting on a slightly more professional public face. I want to keep my anonymity from people who don't know me personally, and have albums with images of my real face that people in my circles can see. I know I'm not in danger of having my account removed, but I just thought I'd share another perspective.
Bingo, hence the reason I use an "avatar" on Twitter... still waiting on google to move it through to these posts!
Thanks for letting me keep my Mobius Strip avatar.
But I know from someone in Germany who was actually taken down when he used his real name and his real picture. His Google Profile was deleted completely for no obvious reason. He got a message which seemed to be automatically translated by Google Translate but does not make any sense in German language. Which means, he still does not know why he is kicked.
Here is his German blog post about the issue:
He even has a German Wikipedia entry under that name: (You know that German Wikipedia is much more strict in terms of relevance than all the other Wikipedias.)
+Thilo Schumann: if I understand correctly, the story you're telling us about has thus nothing to do with the possibility to use non-pictures on profiles, as Tobias Wimbauer had a real picture on his profile. And moreover, Tobias' problem seems to have been solved already…
+Samuel Tardieu nope, his problem is still not resolved. Yes, he had a real picture, as you can see from the screen shot on his blog post. He basically used the very same as he is using on his Twitter account
The German PR from Google said he wants to care about, but still no reaction.
First thing: lot of people are well known by their pseudonyms online. Since years. And a lot of people trust their pseudonyms since years... Maybe Google "believe" that using real names and real pictures is the better way, but online history shows that Google is wrong in this part.

Should people stop using social networks (like G+) for communication if they can't use their real names because of political or religious persecution? Think of people in China or Iran, should they use their real names and their real pictures? And that's only ONE reason to use psedonyms...
I really appreciate how and what you are talking about your work and responsibilities.
Someone else posted a reference to your post...
So I thought I'd find the original and comment there as well.

At the same time, please remember Google+ is committed to helping people connect with people they know and to feel safe sharing and communicating.

You what?
Cods wallop!
How the hell are they making that tremendous leap that a picture and a name are reliable?
It's not like it's difficult to get an image of someone, nor name yourself after them.

Of course - this will then lead to the next phase they are desiring - Verification of G-Accounts.
You will have to confirm who you are etc.
Nothing else will suffice.
Of course - we know that's easy enough to circumvent ... and that there are various issues with that too (anyone else signed up with places for verification?).


Congratulations G - you've just sat down on the Darkside!

Prove a point?

Frances Haugen =>

There - that simple.
And yes - I can even arrange for disposable sims/burn phones,
and mail pickups too.
So No - even pushing for real verification is Not acceptable.
The push is flawed.
Generate what ever excuses you like - people will know they are flimsy.
[This is a FAKE]
TaDa ... see?
[This is a FAKE]
For the record - This post, and the others that contain "This is a FAKE" were originally posted as "Frances Haugen" ... with a matching image to the real FH. This is done to push the point home ... impersonation is That easy --- it gives No security, safety, and any "comfort" is a false illusion generated by a lack of imagination.
[This is a FAKE]
Can you see just how LIMITED it is?
Now stop - think, and wonder - Just how much DAMAGE can be done with this?

Pushing for people to use their Real Names, their Real Photos ... means Nothing,
bar making it EASIER to be abused.

And as previously stated ... it's possible to work around your verification methods too.
And not like you can limit people to a single instance of a name either.

So how are you going to handle that?
How are you going to stop "John Smith" from using pictures of a different "John Smith",
then causing mayhem?
And No - "we hope people won't be like that" ... doesn't count.
Have you Not seen Facebook?

Now - I apologise for being so harsh, and heavy, and mean.
But I'm making sure the point is not only made, but understood.
Wrong path people.
Turn back - take a different route.
[This is a FAKE]
[This is a FAKE]
And now .... Now I go and try to clean up this profile.
And stop emulating such a wonderful person (And go back to being mean old Autocrat).
[This is a FAKE]
[This is a FAKE]
There - profile cleaned up. (Originally I emulated France's profile details...)
I'm happy to point out that it seems that the profile remains for existing posts though.
[This is a FAKE]
[This is a FAKE]
well - the only way for me to tidy this up is to Delete the G+ association.
But I'll wait and make sure that these posts are seen before doing so.
[This is a FAKE]
I use a cartoon picture of myself and have chosen "Other" on gender (wish I didn't have to choose at all) while I test the waters and determine how "safe" the community here is. I do use my real name and I agree (or at least hope) that the expectation that everyone here does (rather than hiding behind avatars) encourages people to think before they speak--that is helps G+ be a self-moderating community.
people can be known only under their nickname, or under their avatar, that's a good way too to not let people invade your privacy :)
I doubt anybody is arguing that well-established and respected pseudonym identities don't exist on the internet. Google, however, can encourage a community of whomever they want to by setting rules that attract certain people and repel others. By providing verified identities, both Twitter and Amazon have mechanisms for broadcasting that someone has merged their online and RL contexts, and I think it's the popularity of those features that Google is trying to tap here. Google+ is a shiny new technology, and lots of people want it because they like technology... but it may be easier to understand the profile rule if you consider that the technology is not the point in this case. I posit that Google is not trying to give online identities a new playspace with new toys. Rather, Google is trying to extend people's RL interactions into an online arena, with technology as the medium. [whether the technology is up to the task, as Autocrat shows...]

It may not be a wise decision, since clearly it's pissing a lot of people off, and perhaps rightly so, since the internet has had over two decades to shape our views of humanity and what it is to be a person. It seems a little callous to decide that people with uniform RL-online identities "count" and people with distinct ones don't. But even if it's not a wise decision, it's at least internally consistent, and clearly stems from well-defined and well-considered goals. The internet is changing. If you draw an internet user at random you're no longer remotely likely to be talking to someone white and english-speaking, and internet is a better place for that diversity. What else might the internet do, if we cast it as an extension of the real world, instead of an alternative?
at last, that should be the choice of the user (extension vs alternative).
I'm since 20+ years on the net, and what i found really interessing is that you don't care about what is the people you speak with, you only care about what they think or do, that's a better way of judging that the skin color, the money or tons of useless criteria than cultural education are used to. Extension can be usefull, but alternative is the original bushido of internet (btw, i'm sure there'll be people to take (bad) advantage of both way, and them should be punish)
I have hundreds of online friends who do not recognize this real name of mine but do recognize my persistent pseudonym that I have been using for ten years across various platforms (and even more unique is the persistent non-photo avatar I have been using with that name.) I've met many of these people in person, but they either don't know my legal name or would have to think really hard about it, because it is not the name that they call me by. But G+ users who comment in name discussions using a name that is obviously not real (as opposed to the many people using pseudonyms that are less obvious) are having their profiles flagged and reported by the Legal Name faction in these debates. (Not staff, but other G+ users who have decided to take it on themselves to do this). (And I'm not joking, this has literally happened to someone I know.) Now people in my community are hesitant to comment on any public discussion, or post to their wide circle, or follow anyone with a big following. (In fact, it has caused at least one person to consider creating a fake-but-real-sounding G+ account, which is ridiculous). I'm part of female, tech-aware, engaged community that has been on the internet since the start of the internet. We are exactly the kind of people you should be welcoming to a beta of G+. And the lack of clarity on this issue is not helping. E.g. "we're not currently taking down profile pictures with non-people" is not actually reassuring. Because you're not saying they're ok, and you're not saying that you won't start taking them down tomorrow.
Nice to see some solid responses ...
question is (as always) whether Google will actually listen to them (long history of taking time before even acknowledging them, let alone following them :D).
darn it - why can I Not +1 comments?
That would be such a nifty thing ... or at least up-vote comments, if not +1 (maybe a +.1 ? :D)
One problem I see with the name policy is that it enforces the western convention that you have a first name and a last name, and that the first name is your individual name and is displayed or said before your last name. Lots of cultures have naming schemes for people that don't play well with these assumptions.

Often there are ways to get square pegs into round holes, by doing things such as reversing the order of your individual & family name, or stuffing lots of extra names into one field. But what about cultures where you go by just a single word name? Or ones where your individual "first name" exists, but is used much less often than some appellation or epithet that is supposed to appear after your family name in your full name form? The first/last naming scheme for profiles is inherently poorly-suited for something international, IMO.

The right way to do things is to give people these two fields:

1. Full name
2. Informal / short name.

Make the two completely independent, and let people enter strings of as few or as many words as they want into each field. Let people choose (by checkbox) whether they want their informal / short name to be their default display name on comments and posts; show their full name when you over over their link.

(Yes, I'm gonna send feedback)
wo a large threa i read it somewhere in your comments/posts that you love Google+ users we love you +Frances Haugen
lame...who cares what photo someone uses!
Mesmo concordando com você e optando fazer uso (não só aqui, mas de outras redes que participei) de nome e foto real, vê-se que implementar tal prática se tornaria difícil por que muitos tomam por base a vivência do que até então se entendeu por navegação na internet. E as questões de segurança prevalecem para alguns casos. Pelo menos aqui, em G+ as pessoas deveriam partir de que se está propondo um novo conceito em termos de comunicação que as leve a interagir no velho estilo olho no olho. Lançar seu convite vai ser igual a ser diferente. É o mesmo que dizer:"ei amigo vamos fazer parte disso".
A adição a círculos de forma accessível como é feita, demonstra e valida o uso dos dados reais.
Well - on the flipside - I can understand Not wanting some offensive, cruel, disgusting, vile, violent, rude, crude image as someones profile image.
The same goes for what they upload to their profile image lists etc.
But how that then proceeds to potentially deciding it must be a "real" photo of someone ... no idea.

(Yes, you used the word "currently" - take some pointers from Matt and John, learn how to phrase things for minimal damage :D)

What about those who want privacy/anonymity,
or those who are disfigured,
or those who are simply unattractive,
or those who are worries/concerned about their physical appearance,
or those who are scared of being victimised/bullied,
or those who want a new/fresh start without baggage,
or those who ..... etc. (I'm sure theres plenty more good reason).
+Frances Haugen While I understand the sentiment here, I can't say I agree that real names helps enforce it. First off, it's impossible to enforce this rule, and so enforcement is skewed toward those who use obvious pseudonyms. A person with an obvious pseudonym may in fact be more "real" and recognizable than someone who uses a realistic fake name. And community policing ALWAYS skews reports against the obvious pseudonyms.
+Julio Fernandez the same happened to me. The only "sin" of my avatar profile called +Grump Ffgsxx (who is a funny alien) was to reply to +Ashton Kutcher when he said "Good luck to the space people!" with a "Good luck to the earth people". I propose that real name accounts can be linked to avatar accounts so that we remain accountable for what we say but still be able to have some kind of avatar or anonimity when we want to.
agreed with +Jillian C. York, +The Autocrat ., and others pushing back here.

+Frances Haugen , your example of somebody stepping in after an inappropriate comment is wonderful but a complete red herring: similar things happen routinely in environments with pseudonymous profiles, and there are plenty of environments where people make inappropriate comments under their real name
Regarding profile pictures, I agree having real pictures is a nice goal, yet when the system doesn't force to have a profile picture at all, more control over its visibility would be desirable. If not an option to hide it from public view, at least allow us to control which profile pictures are visible to which circles and the public.

On an somewhat related note, I think sharing settings should never revert to Public by default, that should be an explicit choice by the user.

There's already an article bashing G+ for these and other privacy related issues. Most of them are baseless in my opinion, except above two points, but the perspective is still worth reading:

P.S. If you read the article, don't go to install Facebook integration extension it mentions (it looks highly suspicious and possibly malware)
Forever Alone - awww bless, you are not alone, well, no more so than the rest of us :D
People, do you think it would be possible or desirable to have some kind of selection criteria for public posts/conversations. If so, what criteria would be: Real Name (is this possible given what people said in previous comments) , pseudonym backed by real name, pseudonym (period), avatar profile, etc... Maybe even a profile which you can classify as "I dont want to tell you who am I"? Would you like to be able to allow/don't allow comments based on that on your public posts? It may appear in the post as "Public- with restrictions".
I suppose .... you could have "tiered" profiles.
You havet ohave Correct/real details for G.
You then have the option to have a "persona" for public display if you so wish.
You can then decide who gets to see the Real you, and who gets the persona, based on Circles.
So you make a public post - non-members see the persona, circle members see you.

That would be a "fair" half-way ... though I still prefer Not forcing people myself :D
mmmm, I wonder what Andy Kaufmann would think on this issues
+The Autocrat I see different possibilities. 1) is to have a profile with several identities or persona as you suggest. 2) To have different profiles linked each with different circles. 3) Regarding the concern of not forcing people, which i share, to be able to have an independent profile classified as "I dont want to tell you who am I" but still allow people to decide if other people with this kind of profile can comment o not on your posts.
Let´s say you open a profile you could classify it with 3 options: 1) I am who I say I am (Real Name/the way people/friends/family call me) 2) I am XXXX buy I will appear as yyyyy. 3) I dont want to tell who am I but i will appear as xxxx. Now, on top of this we can have the option of choosing between different persona or names for circles or public posts as +The Autocrat . suggests which is a great idea because sometimes we get to be known by different names or nicknames in our different real life circles.
+The Emperor , and what do you think about the 3 profile options that I propose: Option 1: I declare this is my real name. Option 2: The name in my profile is not my real name, my real name is xxxx. Option 3: the name in my profile is not my real name and I'm not telling you the real one because it's not your business. Then, people can choose in their public posts which types of profiles can comment, lets say 1 and 2 but not 3. Then the post will appear as either "Public" or "Public with limitations/restrictions" ¿Pros and cons? ¿Maybe other options as well?
Now Lets say that someone chooses option 1 but its discovered as a Fake, well, Google could change their profile to option 3 but still be able to participate in G+.
Maybe someone can invite him so he can join the conversation.
Well then people with profile types 1 and 2 can ask for verification of their "Real Name" "Nickname" "Brand Name" "Pseudonym" and eventually get a trusted/verified profile and have an equally valid type 0 profile. So we can now choose in our posts between 4 levels: Trusted/Verified only, +Declared Real Name, +Declared Pseudonym/Brand and +MINYB (My Identity is not your business) (or Public without limitations) profiles.
Frances, I am curious if one can create a sort of Fan Page/Profile, such as the INFERIOR Facebook offers? Such as for companies, bands, recording artists, radio/TV personalities, etc.?

Is it available?

+Max Volume I doubt that a feature like this won't come in time, What I'd rather know is what features will this type of profile have compared to an individual's profile.
Only famous people?
Seems a little off.
And what's their definition of famous ... I'm a little well known, and in other countries too.... does that count?
(Okay, not likely - but worth asking :D)
hi Frances, is Google + available for accounts
from google Apps? Just wanted to use the google apps account contacts. Is there a way?
Is there a record and playback of hangouts?
Well, I am not famous in the way Gaiman is with graphic novels, comics, etc. However, my DJ/Radio Personality and Band Promoter, my moniker Max Volume is quite well known amongst various circles in various countries around the world. I also have another name which I was called first over 25 yrs ago by a Fortune 500 executive, and have used it exclusively in Japan, S. Korea, and the U.S. So, what is the structure and approach I should be using for what is basically 3 "names" I am known by?
Not all people we know in real life are our friends.
Very well said!
+Sai . Thanks for the Google+ for business link. Answered quite a few of my questions, altho it also opened many new ones :)

+Thomas Bird Agreed. Structure and features would be the key differential ...
My friend Katie Cohen had her profile removed. That is her name and she had a profile picture that was of her. What is her recourse?
i have used the same headshot for years in many other places , i would not like to be made to change it due too the simple fact so many people identify me by it.
I'm going to jump in here, although +Sai . has already said a lot of what I feel. I have my reasons for not "crossing the streams," as it were, between my pseud and my legal identity; I do different things with them, but I don't see one as any less "public" or "real" than the other, and I don't feel I should have to justify where I choose to make the split. I was invited to G+ by someone who I've known for many years, mainly under each others' pseuds: I was initially quite excited to use it for all the things I do with my pseud. If, however, it's Google's official policy that I am Doing It Wrong by not using a name on my birth certificate, then I don't see myself having a long future with this service.
+Brendon O'Brien : +The Autocrat . Comments above something similar regarding tiered profile identities or personas based on circles, which of course would include the profile pics but also the name. I think is also a good idea, the thing that comes to my mind is that then we need a way of deciding what happens when a person is in many circles which have different names/pics associated.
How could Google even know if someone are using their real name or not ? If I register as John Smith, who's to say it's not my real name ?

Even a copy of a birth certificate, like The Emperor said, could be photoshopped (or it could be another person's birth certificate - I don't know about the US, but these are really easy to obtain in France).

I think it's high time people started to realize there's no such thing as a "real name" on the internet. If I tell you my name is Wood, you can be sure it's not my birth name, while if I tell you it's John Smith, you can never be sure. Ergo, using a nickname is, in my opinion, more honest.
Thats what i meant, that we need a way of prioritizing names/pics if lets say you have differen names/pics in 5 circles: Family, Friends A, Friends B, Work, Public.
+Juan Arce Alvarez
Granular and positive flagging would handle it.
If you are in a circle that has access to Pic1, then you see Pic1, regardless of you belonging to 2 other circles that don't have access to it.

What woudl be difficult to handle is not what iamge to show - but what name, in regards to replies with the "+".
G would have to have an "id" to refer to, and show a specific name based from a list for that ID and the viewers permissions.

That coudl get a little clunky.
But it is doable.

+Juan Arce Alvarez & +Brendon O'Brien
A better, more granular method of grouping, prioritising and identifying circles would be a really nice idea.
Why they haven't implemented such already I don't know/understand.
Being able to have a circle, and sub-circles should have been logical and intuitive....
then again - so would the ability to replicate a group, mass move people etc. ... :D
Ugh, +The Emperor, I am really not down with the whole celebrity rollout concept. That's the same reason that Twitter's "Verified" status has become so meaningless - its handout is arbitrary, and folks like Andy Carvin get verified while the activists he works with (who perhaps need it more than he) don't.
Hello Frances: I had posted this as a comment to another one of your posts above, but then saw this post which is more relevant to what I had to say: I think it would be a very good idea to have more control over the visibility of profile pictures. For example, instead of letting the whole world see one's profile pic, it would be nice to have the option to choose "circles" or "extended circles".

I am not from the US - I belong to a society (India) which is generally a lot more conservative than the US. I know a lot of people here, especially women, who would not want to have their profile picture visible to the whole world.

This would be the reason why many people do not upload their real profile pictures. You can see this trend even on your own "other" social networking site which is quite a hit in India: Orkut. Many users do not have profile pictures, and many who do, upload pictures of celebrities. I would imagine this to be a common trend in more conservative, less open cultures!
Yes, I ever using my photo picture, but my friend don't believe if the profile is really me. I always using this avatar and they can directly know who am I :)
I wish they could somehow check lol
I don't agree with the idea of "real names" at all. Maybe require that Google be satisfied the person behind the profile is real. Maybe allow pseudonyms only when a profile has been publicly flagged as "pseudonymous". But there are a lot of uses for "unreal" names, from authors who write under a nom de plume to MMO character identities to trans people who aren't yet out.
I can understand the real name thing from a backend prospective, and i think it makes sense, but as far as what is being presented to other users, i agree with a lot of other people here. Allowing a profile picture that isn't actually a picture of yourself can help prevent people from being targeted for harassment (one aspect of which is being dealt with with making gender private-optional).

Forcing people to use their real names and real photos can make people who are worried about or have been victims of harassment hesitant to use social networks (especially the photos). Letting people be more anonymous publicly partially deals with those issues. Considering the sort of treatment that's documented on, i don't blame them at all.
My (new) wife is having issues being able to change her last name, has this "problem" been corrected so people can use their real names?

*Edit - well, never mind. I see now that you can edit your name on your profile! Thank you! :)
I know many people will look at accounts like this one, and think it's nothing but a way to hide real identity, create "fake" accounts, etc..., but I think there's really more to it than that, which I really hope Google will consider.

I've been using this name online for around 20 years, starting in the days of usenet, carrying all the way forward to today. I can provide legal documents showing this name being used as a pseudonym for myself (ie, a registered copyright from around 15 years ago, which can easily be found in a copyright database search). This IS the name people know me as. I've worked places where the name on my office door was this name, rather than the name on my driver's license. I worked in a trading firm for a while, and it took me almost a year to train myself out of turning to look every time a trader yelled "eight oh" into a squawk box, instinctively hearing "my name."

In other words, I'm not some kid coming up with the name on the spur of the moment. Maybe I was 20 years ago, but it's long since turned into a name I associate with myself more than the one on my license, especially among people I tend to communicate with online. I'm all for avoiding spam, and requiring people have some accountability on their accounts, but does removing names which look "fake" really do that? If I'd not posted this, how would you ever know this wasn't an unusual, but real name? If I signed up as "Mark Baker" (a name I just made up), how would you ever know that one was fake? I know at least two people whose names, given at birth (by apparently evil parents) looks entirely fake; will they arbitrarily have to provide ID to prove it?

As such, I really hope the decision to not arbitrarily drop names based on whether they "look fake" or not doesn't come to be. Your comments certainly are promising, and I hope they eventually lead to some official statement or policy which reduces the fear many of us are feeling over using the service now. It seems to me, "if you're not causing a problem, we won't remove you" would be a wonderful policy, but I realize that makes enforcement difficult.

One final note: While the profile picture on the account is, in fact, of me, I could understand if the demand were made to have a more "normal" picture of me on the account. I tend to rotate pictures on accounts such as this, to ones which are topical and recent; while it would be disappointing to not be able to do that, it is, at least, a middle ground. Of course, while that might be an acceptable middle ground for myself, I'd suspect it would be less so for some others.

Thanks for taking the input.

Aeto / Mike / Whatever...
Oh, Hi +Aeto Batus . See, I know you under this very name -- we have even met IRL several times, e.g. last year in September, when we were both on the same continent -- but you don't know me under the name I am currently using. Neither would I know you if you were using whatever Google seems to consider to be your "Real Name". You would know me, though, if I was using my "other" name, the one that was on two dozen name badges I have worn over the last seven years, on the credits for several shows, in the list of sponsors for large events, etc etc. Pity that Google starts to consider it to be "unsocial" if we want to talk to each other using the names we know each other ...
Agree - there are ways to incorporate a real picture and your logo or what you are about without being obscure
Having a second account with your nickname to connect with all your friends who know you for years by your nickname and avatar ONLY and NOT connecting with your customers, employers, employees who are in turn not supposed to see your friends commenting the posts you also share with them is crucial to protect your privacy and keep work and private life separated.

I see a lot of people with real names and real photos who I can't identify at all because I don't know and don't want to know the real names and real photos of many of my friends. I know them by their nickname and their avatar and nothing else. To me this IS their identity. I can't even find them in Google+ because it does not display the nickname-field from Gmail-contacts.
I find that more people know me by my online handle than they do my real name. Even when they call me, or i call them, it's always usign the internet handle, partly because that's the primary form of contact -- but also it makes things very specific, since there's a lot less "Zotter"s than there are people named Chris.
Even my phone book, and Google Voice (which really pisses me off) it's about 99% only aliases. I don't even think I know the real names of people I hang out with on a daily basis. It's just not how it works. (And google voice has a nickname field, but it doesn't show it anywhere, and doesn't search on it, and those without a first/last name get filtered out – making it very difficult, since I need to put people's real-name into the "comment" field when I know them, becasue I will never think about it when I want to talk to them.)

This should really be making it easier to have multiple identities online.
It sHould allow me to be online with my real-name for my co-workers
It should allow me to use my furry-handle for everyone who are not my co-workers
It should allow me to use it as a service.
It's why LiveJournal took off, and it's why Twitter took off.
Both FaceBook and G+ are in that phase of alienating people who want to use the service (and in turn looking for a more viable alternative service), and just causing more ill-will to be bred and posted everywhere.
Google Buzz was a nice idea, but I didn't want to give out my email address to everyone, as well as when I read messages, I still have no idea who wrote them, becasue I don't know the peopel's real names.
The ability to use my nickname(s) on a social platform like Google+ is very important to me. There are circles of friends that only know me by those and likewise I know some of them only by their selected names and avatars.
I can understand that Google wants to know who they are dealing with and may ask me for identification in private, so they may can get in touch with me should there ever be problems or legal issues. But it should be up to me what name(s) I share on my profile. Best of both worlds would be a setup that allows me to assign different names and avatars to different circles.
I agree to the point, that if you want us to use real profile pictures, we should be able to set its privacy like with the other fields. I don't really like the thought, that everyone in the world might see my picture.

I also think the idea of color-coding circles is pretty good. That could help managing them and also in the promo-videos for the circles it is already done like this, so why not realize it?

About the real name problem: I think handling different personas can get quite complicated especially for persons who are not yet so familiar with all the internet stuff (but will join plus hopefully). But since there is already a field in the profiles for entering a nickname: maybe it would be possible to choose if ones nickname is shown instead of ones real name (maybe also depending on circles)? So one could say my internet friends can see my nickname and my real life friends can see my real name or something like that?
My main problem is stuff like facial recognition and automatic tagging. I believe Facebook had plans in that direction. People who know me are already perfectly able to find me. People who don't know me don't need to find me. And I certainly don't want automated systems tracking me across other people's photos with all their exif data.
Although I use my real name here, I can see very good reasons to allow pseudonyms, and I really disagree with any requirement that says my avatar has to be me. While I really like the whole Google+ concept, Google still needs to get on board with the fact that people who are online use pseudonyms, and that there's nothing wrong with that. Some of us have used a pseudonym online for twenty years or more and are known by it. Asking us to suddenly use our "real" name with people who may never have encountered us under that name is silly and invasive.

Let me use the name I want and the avatar I want. And let my friends do that, too. I am not interested in facial recognition, automatic tagging, or any of the other invasive and unhelpful "features" that seem to be looming on the horizon. Google+, so far, has seemed superior to Facebook because of the privacy features. Don't gut those in the interest of becoming the next Facebook; better privacy is one of the reasons people are moving here. For many of us, having to use our real name and a photograph of ourselves as an avatar ruins that privacy aspect.
This is the digital world. The only things solid here are passwords and keywords. Anyone can, as far as artistic talent permits, maintain any number of any identities, freely available for others to claim by using the shared passwords.

Hence, terms like "real name", "gender", "race", and all that follows these, have no real meaning in the internet. Just take everyone by what they call themselves, then judge them by what they do, and don't mix up these two realities. Then you'll be fine, whoever and whatever you are in either of them.
This post made me reconsider using an avatar and post a more personal photo. Keep up the good community work!
An other furry here, and i would not "feel safe sharing and communicating" at all using my real name and picture. There is simply too many that for some reason is against the furry fandom and want to ruin lives.

Then also comes the social part, almost no one know me by my real name. I've used the nickname Gizgiz for many years and thats what everyone knows me by. I dont know the name of most of my friends, i know their nickname. If G+ were to force real names, then it would get completely useless to me and most other furries!

I would have no idea who was who, and i wouldn't dare to post anything furry related since i dont want my family and classmates/coworkers to find out. Since furry is such a big part of my life, G+ wouldn't be useful for me anymore.

For that reason i really hope that Google+ wont enforce real names/pictures... because i really love Google and Google+ so far :)
@ The Emperor : "and unless you insist on seeing actual documentation"

And even if they did ! How could you possibly show actual documentation, unless a Google representative actually showed up at your door ?

Even with my poor photoshop skills, I'm pretty sure it would take me less than half an hour to produce a scan of my passport listing "W o" as my first name and "o d" as my second name.

This whole debate on "real" vs "fake" name is, and has always been moronic.
And it seems that they are attempting to block my psuedo-account
(the one I used to show how retarded their concept of "safety/security/comfort" really is),
so you may not see me posting as "Frances" again unfortunately.
+The Autocrat . Someone said Microsoft is starting a new "Social Network" , maybe I should check it out. ;-)
As with many users who commented, I am happy to have a personal profile that is an authentic representation of me but the sooner G+ embraces artist and professional profiles (musicians, writers, artists, videographers, designers, etc) the more appealing G+ will be. I, like many others, have created a second profile using my band name and I don't think I am on any sort of hit list but I'd personally appreciate it if some G+ admins acknowledged the validity of these presences. They are after all part of a real life social circle.
+The Emperor
"... that thread does seem more concerned about business and people impersonating well-known people ..."
Thats basically part of the problem - G are not being particularly informative/specific in regards to who/what/which types of profiles they refer to.

As per normal with G, it's broad, generic and not overly helpful statements (And it does tend to be intentionally that way :D).

But you'll notice a general lack of acknowledgement/response.
G will Ask for input on their own terms, and generally appear to blatantly ignore any/all others (they don't, they are watching/listening - just may not actually let you know, which is "almost" as bad, and possibly more rude too ;)).
+Jonathan Chalker re: "the sooner G+ embraces artist and professional profiles (musicians, writers, artists, videographers, designers, etc) the more appealing G+ will be."

I totally agree. One of the big design challenges we work with on profiles (and on the upcoming pages) is how to create a tool that is flexible enough to support very different kinds of users (for example, everyone from my mom to a professional photographer or writer). It's a really hard problem and I hope you'll trust us that we're working on it. Stay tuned! :-)

re: +The Autocrat . Google has a huge number of users and you'd be amazed at how many stakeholders there are we need to balance. :-)
+Frances Haugen Hi there.
I can and do appreciate the difficulties that the various G teams/people face day in/out.
But personal experience has shown (time and time again) that there are many instances when G is too slow to respond, fails to acknowledge, and on occassions, ends up giving the impression it doesn't care to listen.
It ends up falling on to the shoulders of a few G Employees to tackle the task and make the pushes/changes that are required - which is a very sorry state of affairs for a corporation that is meant to be so bright and sensible.


As for needing to balance things for people - how/why?
If you could ensure that what people saw was genuine, real peoples names and photos - then maybe it would be worth looking at.
But I've already proven to you that what you currently have Fails in this regard. You would not be providing veracity/truth/safety for your users - just a false sense of security/comfort (which can be so much more dangerous for them).

So either you will have to seriously up the verification methods you employ (your current ones are easily stepped around, and introducing additional methods will meet more resistance), or accept that there is a limit on what you can verify.

So rather than expendign a lot of time/effort on things that are likely to fail, and possibly result in Google being liable for harm done to others due to believing G had provided a secure/safe/hoenst medium,
you could instead look at letting people handling things themselves a little more.

First step would be segregating the Account details from the Profile details.
That way you can verify who has the account - and ensure various points are correct.
Then people can create their profile, with what ever details/images they so wish (within good taste of course).
Throw in the ability to report/flag posts/profiles for potential fraud/fakes ... and you are basically sorted.

After that - you could look at introducing a more granular filter method,
permitting people to decide what to show, and to whom (multi-part profiles, or multiple profiles etc.).

Sure - far from easy to setup, and a little more server/DB intensive,
but if CMS/CMF like Drupal and Xaraya can manage such granular and micro levels of secuirty and permissions, I've no doubt that Google can do so too.

This would then permit the best of all worlds,
allowing you to implement whatever methods of verification that you deem necessary,
whilst permitting people whatever public/private anonymity they wish to have,
and to alter that to whom ever they wish.
+Frances Haugen Thanks for the response. I did trust pages were on the way (eventually) but it is great to have the assurance. Thanks!
+The Emperor
"... What has impressed me is how responsive the Google+ team has been ..."

Not so sure on that - I've found that by making a little noise about G ignoring things - they show up shortly afterwards (magic :D).
Cynicism aside - I admit, they do seem pretty much on the ball most of the time ... but I think that's a 'personal' thing, some G Employees are much more active/approachable/public than others, and I know that a few dedicate their own personal time to offer support to people as well.

As for the warning - I hope they not only acknowledge it, but heed it as well, lest they find themselves in the midst of a witch hunt, personal vendettas and inter-company negativity.
(It's their concept of "do no evil" - it boils down to "do as little as possible, and hope others behave themselves" - despite a long history showing that humans generally suck ... they still use it as a basis of inaction (again, smart people, silly results :D).
Hey Frances,
I noticed that hovering over a Google+ profile pic of someone else will display their name, and their employment. If employment is absent, it seems to then display occupation. Don't you think that it would be best to display a person's "descriptor" - which is entered under their name - or even occupation before their place of employment?
I'm sure most people want to define their first impression to others, rather than have it defined by their employer.
Google's user-name policy is misguided and illogical. Nothing on the internet is real or authentic, in the traditional human sense. People are not really small 2D images made out of pixels. Do you really want human authenticity? If it is human authenticity you want then don't go on the internet. It's called cyberspace you know.

It is NOT reality, it is virtual reality, it is all fake, it is NOT the real world, it is a simulation. Jesus! Some people!

+Frances Haugen "We believe using real names and real profile pictures..."

So what is a real "profile picture"? Is that really flesh in the tiny 1cm square representation of a human face or is it fake flesh? Is flesh on a computer screen authentic flesh or it is virtual flesh?

Real? Please!

Democracy and freedom are more real than the Google policy of user-name fascism, but Google have lost touch with reality thus they trample over democratic freedoms. Why should people have less freedom online then they have in real life? When I talk to people in real life I can call myself whatever name I want. Google+ is a social network not passport control. Social, you get it? Freedom of expression, free speech etc?

YOU really have not thought through your arguments in a logical manner, your points are utterly devoid of logic. Yeah yeah, I know 2+ 2= 5, long live China and I hope you do good business in China via your G+ CIA subdivision
Hi. I'm using my real name, and there's things I'm not allowed to talk about under my own name due to my employment agreement. If you want me to feel safe online, allow me to use my usual pseudonym instead.
Use your real identity online, post personnal things. Everything you post on Google+ is then usable and can reproduced by Goggle at any time (read the TOS). Give up your privacy.
For veterans of the internet (wich I am not really) or activists, this has ever been what we should not do.
Yesterday, my account was briefly suspended because I was not "real". I was lucky, it was only for a short time, and my gmail account was not shut down. But some people had such problems. Why should I trust all my information to Google ? Until yesterday, all my service could be pseudonymous. Now they want to link that to my legal identity, but they can still take everything from me, at whim, and change the TOS as and whenever they want ?!? I say no, and Google will have some hard time regaining my trust.
"At the same time, please remember Google+ is committed to helping people connect with people they know and to feel safe sharing and communicating."

How about making me feel safe sharing and communicating?
+The Emperor : I'm not sure if I'm missing it ... but can you look through this post ... and tell me... do you see a bunch of posts missing?
Specifically - the ones where Frances was impersonated - blatantly showing how pitiful their reasoning is?
Have G deleted somebodies content ... or did I just miss it?
That's okay - just wanted some confirmation that Google are intentionally removing posts that showed how flawed their system is.
On the upside - I think I have cached copies ... so I may be able to pinpoint it and prove their dirty tricks :D
Thanks for trying though
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