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In the last couple days, Google has taken to quite actively enforcing its "real name" rule, banning or suspending accounts (with many reports of users getting locked out of all of Google, as opposed to just +) with names that "look funny" (such as including symbols, "including period"), as well as actively suspending accounts of users who use non-real names.

For more information, I highly recommend readers read through some of the comments on a recent post by +Robert Scoble, where +Gowtham S, an "infrastructure engineer" at Google, responded with some details on what is being banned. (edit: There is some controversy as to whether this user is "for real" or not; however, it is the discussion that is interesting, not the credentials.)

Personally, I think this state of affairs is ludicrous... Google's attempts to enforce what a name is don't even stand up to the test of multiple cultures, much less the test of an online pseudonymous world. +Gowtham S, even, was forced into the position of specifying a last name, something he does not actually have, and therefore falling back to an initial of his father's first name.

Meanwhile, one of my real-life friends, due to a very complex situation involving her parents' names and legal status in various countries, has a compound last name involving a hyphen, a slash, and a set of parentheses: a name that certainly contains more than enough symbols to drive Google+'s new rules past that brink of "fails when confronted with real world data".

However, when you live on the Internet, a lot of things get even hazier: almost everyone I deal with has both a "real name" and at least one handle of some form. I don't just mean hackers here: I mean people I met in college who are writers, and interact with entire communities online via a pen name.

These people do not consider it appropriate to put their real name up for anyone on the Internet to view, and certainly find it scary (in the "am I going to attract stalkers to find where I live and make my life horrible" sense) to attach their name to an actual picture of themselves, as websites like Google+ encourage.

Coming from the perspective of Google+, and their whole mantra of sharing only what you want to share with the people you want to share it with, this is even sadder... at least the other profile fields I've complained about the granularity of in the past can be entirely marked "private": the Name field on Google+ must be visible to "Anyone on the web", with the concept of fully private profiles that can only be seen by people you trust (a feature that Facebook has had for as long as I can remember) entirely absent.

One could instead imagine a true unification of "circles" with identity, allowing my college friends to go by their real name (maybe "True-dy McRealName") to people in their "family" and "close friend" circles, by a pen-name ("Tryla Marina") to other circles, and being able to fully hide their account to people they don't know at all.

However, even this solution assumes that these users are willing to divulge the link between their identities to at least some people (given that the accounts will be the same, it would be difficult to not notice): depending on what you are writing about (or how you feel about your writing ;P) you might choose to keep your pseudonym private, even if it is your closest friends who are actually dealing with "both of you".

One specific person I know in this situation is not a writer, but is instead a hacker (of course in the good sense of "making things possible"): MuscleNerd, a very famous member of the iPhone Dev Team (with almost 230,000 followers on Twitter). MuscleNerd is an example of someone who is almost entirely known by his handle, a situation quite unlike the oft cited Lady Gaga: despite most people not recognizing her real name, we at least know that it is "Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta".

In this case, however, despite the fact that millions of people worldwide know who he is and hundreds of thousands of people care enough about what he says to follow him on Twitter, MuscleNerd's real name is something that most people, by a vast majority, not only would not recognize, but have never heard... despite having worked with him for years on various projects, I haven't even heard it.

Today, +MuscleNerd's Google+ account was suspended, as it was listed as "MuscleNerd ." (with a period as the last name: a common convention that probably led to the aforementioned outright banning of periods in names). Given how much attention +MuscleNerd was already getting on Google+, I think it will be very interesting to see how the reaction to his account having just disappeared today plays out.

As for myself? I actually have a normal first name, a normal last name, and neither are something that I have ever kept secret from anyone online; and yet, even I am quite unhappy with not being able to list my name the way I always do whenever asked for "full name": "Jay Freeman (saurik)", so as to include the moniker by which people actually know me.

In all of these cases, no malice is involved: no one is trying to do something bad to Google+, or to their followers, and using "weird" or "hidden" identities to do so. Instead, we have people from different cultures, with messy histories, who were taught to value their privacy, or even might be concerned about how they will be seen by others; all who are not just being told to leave Google+, but sometimes (if we trust the numerous reports of this occurring) being cast from Google entirely, losing access to their e-mail, documents, and maybe even phone numbers, because they decided to try out Google+.

Of course, not all accounts with such "sketchy" information have disappeared... my personal favorite name to date, +*****, is still "going strong". (In case mentions get damaged, which I believe they do, when a user is suspended: that account is currently named "Sugarballs Mintfart".) (edit: At some point during the 12 hours after I posted this article, that account, with #102087412519409745072, was suspended.)

Wow, just: wow. :(

edit: For those who find this subject matter interesting, or enjoy reading about edge cases in naming, I highly recommend joining the discussion that this post has generated on Hacker News: .
Sarah P's profile photoLoïc Lucaire's profile photoJeremy Crum's profile photoabd alkrem's profile photo
Wow, very ignorant of Google. They try and go 'right' with privacy and then pull something like this? Who cares what name a person uses as long as they aren't causing problems?
Honestly, I think I am just a matter of time - a casualty waiting to happen. 
+Jay Freedman at least you get it,But for others its just hard to understand that when we participate in a beta we are here for testing not to preview a service.We are working out the bugs in each service one at a time.
True, but in my case, I have been known as "LVCIFER" in the iCommunity for the past 4 years. I blog under that pen name. I run a personal blog under the pen name "LVCIFER" as well. People all over NYC have known me as "LVCIFER" for the past decade and a half.

I also happen to work as a U.S. Bail Enforcement / Fugitive Recovery Agent.

If the wrong people track me down, I (or my family) could literally be killed. I'm not exaggerating either. It's my job to literally track criminals down and put them back in jail. That's not something I can fuck around with.

I can prove my online "identity" of "LVCIFER" for the past 4 years or so, but something tells me that Google won't give a rat's ass. 
The scarier part is whwn they suspend your account, it is NOT just your G+ account. They suspend all your google services. Musclenerd will not not have access to email accounts, youtube, gmail, etc.

It is kind of scary as ALL of my personal and business correspondence is in my Gmail. This is almost to the point of making me want to delete my G+ account since I really cannot afford to lose my Gmail over the next stupid ToS violation.

Another problem is Google has virtually zero customer support contact ability. All they have is a support forum that doesn't even seem to have anyone from google on there who can do anything to help you. You're just screwed pretty much.

I know we're the product rather than the customer, but they should treat their product better :(
+Jay Freeman I agree with this, I also don't attempt to keep my real name secret, but not being able to add the also known as to the net world (lilstevie) is really not to my benefit
I have been using the Dr. Zoop name ever since I got AOL on the stone age. I didn't realize it was so common to use the period as a last name... I thought I figured that out on my own. :-P
Re: "fully private profiles that can only be seen by people you trust (a feature that Facebook has had for as long as I can remember) entirely absent"

Facebook ditched that in a change to their privacy controls about a year ago; you are now obligated to at least be visible to friends of friends.

Otherwise, great post. I'm not sure which side I'm on yet; as much as I like a community built around real names everywhere, I do see the issues associated with regulating what is and isn't considered a "real name".
If Google wants to enforce real names on G+ that's their business - even if they make mistakes doing it. But when people set up their GMail account to get stuff like password resets to financial accounts and online merchants the act of cutting them off from their GMail account has severe consequences. One has to think twice about trusting a company with one's email account. The amount of connection one makes to online businesses can be so extensive that losing an email account can be very disruptive of one's life.

Allan Donald, What I wonder is how many seemingly real names on G+ or Facebook are really real names. I know some aren't.

I wonder whether John Doe is the sort of name that'll get you banned on G+. I know one guy who legally changed his name to Reason. Will that get him banned? What about the people in Afghanistan who have just one name? Out of luck? Or is it sufficient to use your single name twice?
Great, even as you invite ppl you start throwing them out!
If you have an e-mail-address that is named after "your company" and then you fill in the birthday of that company, you suddenly can no longer read your mail for example if that birthday makes it younger then 13 years.... also a nice thing ;)
I suggest everyone click the gear in the top right, click send feedback, and demand they stop doing this dumb shit
If Google wants to enforce real names, then the "Other Names" field needs to be included in searches and sorted by popularity and such, and should allow almost any type of name. Google also needs to up the ante on their customer service if they continue with Google+; Facebook has a slightly better response time in regards to customer issues.
So, basically, you can only be who Google thinks you can be. Seems a little high-handed to me. Sorry Gaga, you're OUT.
thats it google drive people away just when your launching your service, idiots
It's a little bit different with me: I literally hate my last name. It's not a bad last name per se, but for some reason which I can't quite put my finger on myself, I have detested my surname for as long as I can remember myself (quite literally, I can recall myself being 5 years old and wishing I had a different last name). The only reason why I don't go and change my current last name to the one I prefer (which happens to be the one I'm using on G+) is because there is too much bureaucratic hassle associated with it: I'd have to go through tons of paperwork, get a new passport (which is a tricky process in itself since I live outside of my home country), update my name in registrars, etc. If it were simpler, I would have done away with my loathsome surname in a blink of an eye.

That being so, I use my 'preferred' name in all areas of my life apart from everything related to high-level bureaucracy. I write under that name, I introduce myself with that name (that is, every time a last name is required); even my signature is based on Anton Osten and not the horrible atrocity written in my legal documents. The only people who know my 'legal' last name are my family, close friends and old schoolmates–the latter being so only because schools aren't really sensitive to those kinds of issues.

Therefore, for all intents and purposes my real name is Anton (or Anthony, a variant spelling for English speakers) Osten. I do not wish to disclose my much disliked passport surname for the whole of the Internet to see, and I certainly don't want Google, Facebook or other companies coercing me into using it.
The who runs Google+ needs to get correct this it should be an Option for the person to use there Real Name or use a nickname also there should be an option to list your location and make it ether public or privet as we see fit. I'm sure this screw up will be corrected soon I hope.
an invite again sended to Bro lolxxx
More than enforcing real names, I am worried about the action from Google. Stopping all services instead of just plus is insane.
I don't want to lose my Gmail access just because I had a n uncommon name and I tries using Google+.
If it's true, it's crazy and very shocking to come from Google. 
weird how my other name is clearly not a real name but is still there. I wanted to see how long it would stay up. this really isnt a good look. I liked this better than facebook but now if they do not come up with something better than this, this will effect a lot of things in the future. In the end its still a social network and if people known you as something for years, tech speaking it has become a real name for some and others.
Just a note on using per-circle names. It seems reasonable at first, and I've seen a number of people mention it, but the problem is that circles are private. The people you send to in your circle don't get to set which name your circle sees, and by responding, they out themselves with their "default" name. This a problem in general with circles, they are going to become the "Reply All" embarrassment of Google+, with people replying to what they think is a limited circle of friends, but instead going public, or talking about someone who they don't realize is on the circle, or…the list goes on. In fact, get the teens on here and I'm sure they'll deliberately set up stings to entrap their friends into saying something about someone to their face.
why is google even doing this at all? i dont get it.
so only if someone reports you do ypu have this issue. meaning anyone who wants to mess with someone simply needs to report them to google. seriously not good. 
also i was annoyed in te past that google profile /forced/ me to list a nickname. i just used my same name. anyway, to me
it seems a pretty serious thung that someone doing nothing more than simply trying out g+ could be locked out of all google services. i recall (and have buzzed about) how gmail eats mail from time to time. my coder kid said, "yeah, we (the software co. he worked for then) dont use gmail for business because of this."

the nonsupport at google has always been a drag. currently google checkout shows i paid for another year of picasaweb, yet pucasaweb wont give me the storage. keeps claiming i have just a gig (i have 20 gigs). google says if theres a problem, "contact google." but how?

i also read quite a ways (last year) down the "gmail ate my mail" thread over in the help pages. its never been resolved. occasionally someone says it must be the users fault. um...the company my kid worked for -- that avoided gmail for this very reason -- makes scheduling software for the us navy (among other clients). im pretty sure they know how to use email.

i've been a big google fan...i hope i can keep being one.

btw: cydia rocks and always has.
Matt Clark, perhaps you don't understand people's privacy concerns. Just because we have a name doesn't imply that it's available for everyone to have access. A name like yours is private just because many people share it, you've been enjoying a life of privacy and didn't even know it.
Google should think more about this, unless it's going after linkedin on the same social platform.

Come on Google you started with big steps, keep it that way
Jared S
Wonderful write-up Saurik. I hope Google realizes the problems they have created and right their wrongs and issue a public apology. Otherwise Google+ will be dead and gone before it ever even leaves the beta stages.
Am I missing something here? What's the difference between 50 cent and musclenerd? Is it because 'fitty' has listed 50 and cent as his full name? Whereas musclenerd has just left one blank? Seems stupid to me?? 
I see the forest through the trees... is Google+ trying to establish a digital identity by forcing people to create public profiles with given names ?
Hehe nice one, I suppose that's your real name ;-)
I wonder what the next step could be? Face recognition-suitable profile picture?
I really can't stand it! Social Networks will ask for ur 'Real Name', 'Location', 'Family Members', 'Ur Real Photo' and ... Privacy!! really!? 
+allan donald so whats your response to the bail bonds guy? as he says, it could endanger his family to use his regular name? i also dont get it (not that i have to but still) why you, for example, would care whether you believe you're using someone's "real" name or not. whats it to you? you're not hiring. you're not managung govt records. hell, you still wont know if its truly someones /given/ name anyway. all you know is, google thinks so (or more accurately, no one has decided to report that name to google for whatever reason). suppose giogle thinks my name is sammie and really my parents named me maria. so? how exactly does it affect you which name you address me by? and why should your preference be more important than that of the person actually using the name? im not picking on you other than to address the point you mention.

in real life when i go to a party or mest someone i starbucks, am i required to give my full first and last name to everyone at the party or in the cafe? will i be banned from starbucks if i decide to say, "call me babs"? no. of course not.

obviously many might like it if i "had to" tell them my first and last name. but that preference is in no way binding on me. and since i am the one who deals with any consequences of giving out my identity, its rightly up to me - not random people i starbucks -- to decide what info i feel ok giving out.

and in the case of internet famous (or famous periid) people, its a disservice to them for google to force them to /not/ use the name they're known by. fans trying to find them will be hindered. what problem is solved? none. musclenerd: hes well known. as fate would have it, just yesterday i wantrd to make a "jailbreak" circle with the devs and blogs relating to that. can i? not as things stand i cant.

and this is doing what, exactly? not doing a damn thing for me, for musclenerd, for those who follow this topic or develop for cydia repos.

and someone reported lady gaga "to see what happens?" why? why bring trouble to a well known person? you already know what happens: she gets suspended. and can come back i guess but in a way that makes it hard for her community to find her.

theres abaolutely no way for google to actually know what a "real" name is in every case in every country in the world. all this will do is cause confusion and turmoil again and again and again. while doing nothing substantial for users.

i suggest if you want to know someones "real" name, ask them. if you dont like the answer, you can choose your response from there. that all the power any user should have. no ine has a right to demand info someone wishes to keep private except the govt (and not always then, some could argue).

google is a web service. g+ is a site to socialize a d read and share stuff. its not a government agency and the users arent cops. period.
This whole thing is feeling more and more half baked. besides a neato interface for groups and a chat i've used precisely once (would have been handy for group development projects however - which is exactly where it likely was developed), the whole thing feels like friendfeed v2.
+princeton brooke but linked in has a legitimate reason for real names: its a site for business. if im getting hired, sure, i give the name on my social security card. thats just common sense.

when im simply discussing this, that, and another thing, its no ones concern what name my parents chose for me. 
movie stars. musicians. artists. writers. yes. i demand to know your real name. just because. and if you dont comply, i'll tell google on you.

also: if any personal or professional rivals are here, i'll get you banned. just by reporting you. nyeener nyeener nyeener.

and i dont like foreigners. they have funny names and i cant pronounce them. guess what? im tellin.' bye bye.

if i dont like what you post: hasta la vista, baby!

good policy, google. i hope this doesnt survive beta. 
I'm curious to see what he thinks about my situation too.

For example, I have friends in the NYPD who work deep cover operations. Should they be excluded from using Google+ too just because of their sensitive situations? For the same reasons as myself, they or their loved ones could literally be killed if they are tracked down by the wrong people using their real identity. This is not some shit I am making up from paranoia. By FAR, the single most common criminal I deal with are drug runners/dealers.

For real, do I honestly have to tell you what cartel's are capable of? Come on!

And most of these idiots don't realize exactly how common "facebook™" stalking is. Part of my job is acting as a "skip-tracer".I locate people so I can bring them back to JAIL. I, MYSELF, USE SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES TO TRACK PEOPLE DOWN WHO HAVE RUN AWAY OR OTHERWISE FLED!!!

You can go to any "people finding" site such as and pay for a "social networking search". What about women who are fleeing abusive men? Or stalkers? What about people who are in witness protection? Technically, they're lying too, should they "out themselves", and endanger their lives too just to make you assholes happy?

The same goes for DEA, FBI, or any other undercover agents.

People don't seem to think about situations like mine through. They just want to be able to add another "real" person to their fucking circles. They keep saying things like "This is a place for adults, blah blah, blah!". And yes, their opinions are great - for someone who works his life away selling burgers at the local McDonald's, or selling lumber at the Home Depot. But people like me, who have chosen dangerous jobs and fields, why do we have to suffer and be singled out because of our work?

It's not just cops or federal agents either. It's security professionals, private detectives, soldiers, bouncers, body guards/executive protection agents, repo men, etc.

How many Law & Order: SVU or Criminal Minds episodes have we seen about people who were targeted through social media? Do you think it's REALLY all just fiction, for God's sake?

It's easy to sit behind your computer and call everyone else a "child" for not using their real identity, but when you are the one literally risking your spouse's or child's life by gallivanting around using your real name, then you can judge and condescend. 
I like the idea that if someone is being harassing or threatening, you can tell the authorities the actual name of the person doing the harassing or threatening. I understand where many of you are coming from, and I really think the best way for my issue to be addressed while also addressing those who wish to use a pseudonym would be for Google to require a real name be provided for their records while allowing users to only display their preferred name to the public. Then the authorities could contact Google to obtain the identity of someone reported for illegal behavior, but everyone could remain as anonymous as they choose. The wrench in this solution is the apparent difficulty on contacting Google directly, but I'm sure that's something the authorities could do with much more ease than the rest of us. 
+Gowtham S: "But for others its just hard to understand that when we participate in a beta we are here for testing not to preview a service"

Sorry, once you have 10 million+ users and you brag about it to the press, you are officially out of beta.
Some of you just simply don't get it. shaking my head
+Alexis Davila

So explain this to me. What excuses will you start using when Google+ opens up the service to businesses, blogs, websites, etc?

Are you going to leave the service because they aren't "real people"? Or are only "real people" as you see fit allowed to use social networking sites?
+Alexis Davila

Yes, but you're not understanding that social networks aren't just for singular people. Should people who happen to have dangerous professions just hide in a box underground somewhere?

Where is it said they can't enjoy the same excesses as the average person?
Social Networks will also include businesses, websites, celebrities, blogs, etc. They are also part of the social networking atmosphere.

For example, Engadget and Mashable will have a Google+ account. Should they not be allowed to because it isn't a "real person"?
Yes, I happen to hunt convicted criminals for a living. Yes, I happen to be a blogger. Yes, I also happen to be a techie and a pretty relevant part of the iCommunity. Should I not be allowed the privilege of access to a social network because my job conflicts with my personal hobbies and interests?

I'm sorry, I just don't see how that's fair. People are complex creatures. We all have some identity crisis to a degree. 
+Alexis Davila

I guess I could see that working, but I've already been suspended once from Google+. I was able to prove my blogging identity, my online presence, I was able to go back as far as 4 years worth of proof. I also have people in my real life would would sign notarized affidavits stating that I am also known, in real life, as "LVCIFER" for the past decade and a half.

I also have all state credentials to prove my profession. Google+ didn't care man.

At least not yet, but I believe that's because they haven't opened the service up to entities yet. 
+Alexis Davila

Agreed, but that FBI Agent wouldn't be joining Google+ on "official business". They have clocks that they punch in when going to work, and punch out of when they're "off".

I don't believe a person's profession dictates who they are. In their off-time, they should be allowed the same privileges as everyone else, no?
I think the point +Alexis Davila was trying to make (feel free to correct me if I'm wrong) is that people who's lives depend upon their anonymity shouldn't be participating in a public forum in the first place. Certain professions require certain sacrifices and common sense dictates that this be sacrificed for those professions. As for the example of a battered woman in hiding, well unfortunately this just adds to the many nuanced ways abusers ruin the lives of their victims. 
Won't the problem be solved, mostly, if Google intelligently links accounts with pages? One 'real person' (in the Google sense) can be the administrator for multiple pages with circles associated with the person or page. So say your account 'Jay Freeman' allows you to post as 'saurik' or as 'Jay Freeman' by defining circles as "Jay's Friends" and another as "saurik's Friends". Each group of friends will only know one aspect of you. Isn't this workable?

Note, this does not handle the case of people with unusual (in the Google sense) names.
obviously,google is heading for facebook , not twitter
+cortney templeton well, to be precise, you like the /idea/ that you can give /what you believe is/ a real name. but online, theres a much quicke solution and it doesnt depent on something that google cant even guarantee anyway: block the person. takes one quick second.

i thought of all the things the skip-trace guy (sorry, im on iOS and looking back for your name is not easy so ...) said: people with abusive spouses, or in witness protection programs, or undercover (for reasons you presumably support), and so on. and im not even a big fan of some of those. doesnt matter! google isnt the cops, and google isnt doing this to protect people from online bullies. thats what they give you a blocking button for.

nor is google an employer. google hope to make money from running a social net. people dont want to be told how to socialize and how they will be addressed by others, and for some people its outright dangerous. and i agree: why should people have to use /what google thinks is/ a real name just to chat with people on a social net? google's not your bodyguard, its not your government, its not your boss. it should stop.

someone said they didnt like "far-out" psuedonyms. so what? thats their preference and they can choose not to converse with names they dont like the son d of, which is a far better option than banning people from a site.

so far i havent seen an answer to the question of why should someone, in order to use this site, be forced to give information that could put someone in actual physical danger? cyberbullying, btw, doesnt put your life in danger. you could get upset enought to do harm to yourself, but a cyber bully cant reach across time and space to harm your body ... but s/he can, if you submit to giving out real info like full name and address -- track you down and /then/ do real harm.

thats unacceptable, for some internet company to insist people make themselves vulnerable like that. sure you "dont have to use g+" then, but people will anyway. some people. and some of them are foolish. why should google try to increase that foolishness? what does google gain here? trust me, googles not doing this to protect you.

as to some person who got a high ranking by using a famous dead guys name: so? then what? oh, someone figured it out and they had to stop. i just dont see the big deal there. i do see a big deal with teying to make people give personal info to /everyone on the internet/ when they dont want to.
I myself have already been suspended. I was reinstated. I changed my name again, and am waiting for the other shoe to drop. 
Everyone: I added some edits to the article, including a link to the Hacker News discussion on this post, as well as an update that "Sugarballs Mintfart" (the hilariously named user that I referred to in my post) has now (as we all would have predicted would happen) had his account suspended.

+Ed Gamble: In many ways, the way Facebook Pages does work well: you can have a real account with a real name (even one that is entirely private, and then start a public Page for an alias. However, in some cases, this isn't enough protection, as the network itself now knows who you are "for realz": you may know employees of that company whom are "the problem", or not trust their security features to keep that information private. Even worse, the network may be operating in a country (such as the US) that you are not a citizen of, with laws like the Patriot Act (that allows it to recall that data from the network, even if that violates the laws of the country of the user, an issue that has come up in force recently due to EU privacy laws).

+Kee Hinckley: I actually agree with you that "per-circle names" is not quite a correct solution to the problem, and my article immediately knocks down my own thought experiment in the following paragraph that starts with "However, even this solution assumes that", where I lay out another form of the same argument you are making (as the key reason why having Reply All cause that unfortunate behavior is that it allows people to sniff out the links between the accounts "on accident").

+PRINCETON BROOKE: As someone else already stated, your idea that "whatever name you feel comfortable with placing on a resume, and submitting to a client or potential employer should be the same credentials used on Google" makes much more sense for LinkedIn (a site with the up-front goal of being an interconnected set of resumes, used by business people for business purposes), but not so much on Google+ (where the initial designs you read about that came out of Google all involve reasonably "personal" uses). However, I figure I will also add that Skud (the ex-Google employee that has become a center of the reporting on this mess recently) has always gone by Skud (as opposed to her real name) even during job interviews, and has large amounts of evidence to that on his site. I, also, have seriously negotiated deals with people where one of the players has only gone by a handle before, such as "BigBoss".

+Darren Hammonds: Thank you very much for the 50 Cent example! A lot of the articles use Lady Gaga as an example of this issue with celebrities, but as she probably doesn't actually use Google+ (there are numerous accounts that claim to be her, but none of them seem credible) the arguments is a little more stretched and awkward than if you use +50 Cent, who now has a reasonably large following (although only twice as large as MuscleNerd had, I believe, which I state only for scale: it isn't because he is fundamentally more important on this site, although it could easily be because he is much more widely known "in the real world" ;P) to his Google+ account.

+Cortney Templeton: However, in saying that in being a "battered woman in hiding" you cannot be online under a pseudonym, it is actually you who are contributing to "the many nuanced ways [_everyone_] ruin[s] the lives of [] victims": your insistence on this point denies that person that one last freedom long after they may have mostly (but not quite; and even if you have, you likely forever change your definition of "privacy" in these situations) escaped from the abuser. :(
So every single person interested in general privacy can create a google account as "john smith", thereby satisfying Google's low threshold for actual personhood, and then create all the alias pages they care to.
Actually, it's not me, or [_everyone_], it's the jackhole abusers and our P. O. S. legal system that doesn't stop these sorry examples of humanity and instead puts the women in hiding. And before you judge me as one who knows not of what I speak, my own mother is in a battered women's shelter, so I'm not coming from some puppies and daisies la-la land where battered women are just a hypothetical. In a better world, the men responsible for the existence of such facilities would be stopped swiftly and permanently. But we don't live in that world, we live in this one, and sometimes the actions of others eff with our lives and we can't do anything about it.

That being said, I did say that I think people should be able to publicly use a pseudonym if they so choose.

But I now have to point out that even when using a pseudonym, participating in public forums is a foolish (if not downright stupid) choice for those whose lives depend upon anonymity. Why take such a risk for something that truly is superfluous?

I highly recommend you go and read through some of the discussions on Hacker News, and follow up with some of the more in-depth analysis by patio11, on "what is a name", and the myths people have surrounding them. The idea that you can verify that people actually go by a "real name" to any accurate extent doesn't make sense, given that people often don't even have consistent names across different forms of official identification.

As for your point of protecting "Jay Freeman" from being stolen by others, that is a very common name. I am not certain how many people in the world have the name "PRINCETON BROOKE" (although if there are many, I bet the all-caps version your parents gave you helps somewhat ;P), but "Freeman" is a name that has been taken on by people throughout history (ironically, to escape their old one in many cases), and "Jay" is a common first name.

In fact, when I first started "getting my name known", I actually got people who would contact me asking if the third hit on Google for "Jay Freeman" was actually referencing me: a hit to the FEC website for a case involving one "Jay Freeman" who defrauded people out of a ton of money during some investment scam. Why people would assume that, to me, is downright confusing: just because some names match does not mean you have the same person.

Therefore, I actually have no real interest in protecting the name "Jay Freeman": when I find people online who claim to be that moniker it doesn't matter at all. However, if you are somewhere online and someone claims to be "saurik", and other people are again silly enough to believe that "name matches, must be the same person", then that's a serious problem for me: everyone everywhere knows me by that "more unique than my real name" identifier.

Finally, you make it sound as if adding pseudonyms is something that makes G+ drastically more complex... I don't see how this would be the case at all... quite the opposite, really: trying to enforce "real names" in a world where "real name" has no canonical meaning (again: read the articles by patio11 on this subject) is something that I, as a developer, find to be a much less surmountable task than going the route of most services on the Internet (including the old Google Profiles), where you are allowed to go by any name you choose.

+Cortney Templeton:

While I feel drastically for your mother's situation, it is too simple to claim that our "P. O. S. legal system" needs to figure out some 100% solution for finding, isolating, and holding people who cause problems. The world is always going to have people who are dangerous, and whether the one single person whom you fear the most is behind bars or not, the fact that he has friends who aren't, or that there will be more people out there like him, is still a serious problem.

Allowing everyone to operate "in public" and still "feel safe" is simply not feasible; I thank my stars every day that I'm not yet so famous that I actually need to take the death threats that I have occasionally received (over something so silly as a user's phone not doing what they expected it to do), but I have met people who do not have that luxury; these people are careful that their location and plans are not known to the public, and for them pseudonymity is critically important.

To claim that these people should simply "not use social networks", as many people here are advocating, actually forces them into "hiding"; in an age with something as amazingly revolutionary as the Internet--a technology that actually allows people who, for whatever reason, need to hide information about themselves for fear of their personal safety to do so as they please--people who go around asking the stereotypical phrase "papers, please" are, in fact, contributing to ruining peoples' lives. :(

Hi Jay,

I know you're most likely inundated with this discussion; but a very good friend of mine WugFresh has been following this thread and would like to discuss the situation and potential resolution strategies with you but has similarly had his account banned. Though, I think we all understand that Google wants to create a strong community, I also think that we're in an age that has moved beyond using birth names as sole identifiers, and it's not necessarily advantageous for Google to maintain the status quo here.

If you have a moment, Wug would greatly appreciate it if you could read his Google Groups discussion post and contact him via gtalk or gmail at

Thanks in advance.
My linka couple of posts above is from WugFresh. He is well known in the Android community. Please read as he has been suspended as well. (On my phone and cant edit my post)
+Dave Kochman: I read that thread when it was mentioned earlier by +Dustin Reaver. Unfortunately, I am not in any special or unique position to help people with "potential resolution strategies". :( That said, given that Wug seems to have not tried to contact me (nothing via Twitter, IRC, or even e-mail), I assume he realizes my overall "powerless-ness" in this matter. ;P If he ever does have a question for me, though, I will be (and generally am) available (IRC being the medium that generally works out most easily).
Much appreciated, Jay. Apparently in his exasperation toward the overall situation, he over-sighted your alternate contact methods. ;) He'll be in touch via one of those channels. Thanks much.
i tried to link to recent scoble, which says vic g's focus is on making g+ "nicer" and also says they're working on how to handle psuedonyms. if i want miss manners, i'll go stock up on judith martin books (i love her books, btw. witty and useful. i had them all.) and "nice" is subjective. i want to decide that. i dont want google to decide it for me.
+jay freeman im so glad for this thread and the points you make. yes, life has danger. thats just how it is. trying to protect everyone from everything is not only impossible, it becomes a far greater danger. i personally -- no kidding -- have had my life in danger /in the moment/ and more than once (for an somewhat nerdy artist, i have an astonishingly dramatic life. even i scratch my head. but anyway...) the main reason im here to mention it is that it wasnt a large, organized, systematic entity that was the danger. it was lone idiots. and i was able to retain life and limb.

and the net is, in my opinion, the best and greatest thing our time has produced. its worth is incalculable and it gives, for the first time in history, a fighting chace to all humanity. chance for what? for learning, for expanding human freedom. for tearing down walls of all kinds. for simple human connections that would otherwise be impossible due to distance or mobility issues. and for much more.

to say dismissively "well, just dont go on the net then" is like saying "well, just dont go outside then."

and what is a "real" name? your points are excellent. even that is subjective and varies with the venue, both online and off. its not right, not useful, and does nothing but complicate things and frustrate users to demand a "real" name. the scoble thing i tried (unsuccessfully) to link, vic g's mentioning names spelled upside down and "obviously fake names like god." um, say what? again, how is google's concer at all, such trivial things? how does that make g+ "nicer?" nicer for whom? by what definition?

again: theres the simple, user-friendly option to not follow someone, or you can go further and ban them. what more is needed beyond that? it puts the power you need into your own hands, yet doesnt take anything away from anyone to satisfy some arbitrary idea of whats "nice" or what a "real" name is.

i never understand why some people are eager to limit their own freedoms, especially when they gain nothing real by it.
Honestly, they can cancel my account. Fuck 'em. I prefer not to have something associated with my real name out there. After reading stories in the recent canadian election about people being barred from campaign stops due to political things on their facebook pages, or employers asking for access to facebook? I will not have anything tied to my real name.

If Google decides to close my account, that's fine. I'll start using hotmail, and bing, and everything else that isn't google. I might be one person, but it's bullshit.
+princeton brooke (i just skip caps when using virtual keys) one, i got a kick out of your facebook (that i had to drop the https to see, lol). b, why isnt "report this user" enough for spammers and maniacs? seems to me that google would in fact be better able to respond quickly and usefully if they werent busy dealing with the serious threat of ... upsidedown user names . also, why suspend first? sure, right now, early on, resolutions are fairly quick (or not at all; i really dont know how many are still suspended), but what about when g+ grows and grows and grows? how many folks would they need to hire to review endless user names? and sure, as a search engine and for google checkout and the like, they need accuracy. for users conversing on a social site, i fail to see why they need that. there's no substitute, folks, for using your mind and checking things out /for yourself./ google isnt really a good proxy for um, thinking. and it certainly doesnt know better than you do what you find "nice." im not especially nice when i run out of patience (i keep biting my tongue today to not urge the general thread-reading g+ public to refrain from being uh, kitty-cats), and yet, i have many twitter followers and my facebook friend requests get accepted. so others feel im nice enough, it seems. does my name relate to that in any way? it does not.

the sort of person who makes death threats over software problems, or who stalks and harasses strangers online, or who trolls rudely past the point of any sense at all -- is this person going to be deterred by an unenforceable "no fake names" policy? doubtful. who will be deterred? hardly anyone. meanwhile, legitimate users are banned for no good reason.

the best question to ask with things like this is usually "what problem does it solve?" if theres an answer, you might go on to ask, "and does it actually solve it?" its surprising how many times the first answer is "none," and the second "no."
man, i wish i could edit my posts. one, b... sheesh. is there a way to edit from iphone/ipad? anyone know?
well, i guess i'll finally get serious about using irc. only used it once, when doing one of my many restores, using a mac for the first time ever and getting stuck. problem was i needed someting to ooen zip files or some such. i forget now. i was desperate and finally grabbed some irc client and ... ended up figuring out what was holding things up myself. after driving everyone in the place crazy first. lol.
Here is something I found in Google groups that you might be interested in reading.

CopyLion Jul 24 09:42PM -0700 ^

After 4 days I can finally enter this forum instead of getting 404s, so I am
going to move something from the Help Forum and my email outbox to here.
And the bad news is, after I sent like 3 emails and submitted 2 requests,
Google seems to insist they are right, ignored all those evidences and
source I provided to them. During these days a few more people I know got
suspended too for the same reason.

Here's the full story, read this if you want to know more background

I am quoting the most important parts here, as a very quick introduction to
the situation Hong Kong people like me faced.* We got suspended for using
combined names (English given names, English nicknames or well-known net
ids, Chinese surname in Pinyin English letters), and Google asked us to use
Pinyin names or Chinese names that we don't actually use to recognize each

I guess they don't know about how Hong Kong people tell others about their
names. Hong Kong is a former British Colony and we use English names and
nicknames far more than Chinese names and Pinyin of that. Some of us have
middle names or nicknames in middle as the nickname as those can be a lot
more known by the others than the real name itself. (I guess you guys don't
know GeoHot's real name right?)
According to their standards, they can suspend any Hong Kong people's
account if they want, makes no sense.

How Hong Kong people's name on their ID card typically looks like is like
CHAN, Tai Man 陳大文
This is name in Pinyin and Chinese full name, some may have English first
names (like "Brian") included too, but NOT ALL. They may also have more than
1 English name like middle names or nicknames more known, may or may not
match the one on their ID card, lots of combinations.

What we actually use at work, on Facebook, any other sort of things:
Brian Chan, Vader Chan, Brian 'Vader' Chan, Brian Vendetta Chan
*It is possible, and happens a lot, that people know such names each other
but don't even know what is the name on their ID card. *
*If this happens on only 10% of America or Europe people, I must tell you
this is not any rare case in Hong Kong. I mean, this can happen to MORE THAN
90% of Hong Kong people. We are Chinese people who has been ruled by an
English country, that's it.*

*if you ask them to put all those nicknames or English first names in the
separated name fields and use Pinyin names or Chinese full names instead,
you are banning people from recognize that guy from what they first see,
instead of "helping people bind up by forcing them use real names".*

What Google asking for are not names mainly known by others, but "names they
think that is a name that guy should have". They can kill a bunch of
honkie's profiles if they insist.

If you guys need any more information or willing to help raise this up, just
leave a comment :D
Hey +Jay Freeman! It's nice to be able to speak to you on the right side of the fence this time... lol. So long story short, I got let back in today and got to keep my alias. So now that I'm back, I am hoping that my story will help people get their accounts back and inspire them to defend their online persona's if that is who they want to be:

{{ WugFresh }}
This story is the worst, this guy lost 7 years of his life. I'm getting kind of scared. I have more than 7 years of my life on Google. I got an invitation to google on April 1st 2004, which I believe was the first day it was released. I thought it was a April Fools joke but went again and tried it out anyway. I was pretty good and seeing as I had every other email address I figured this was new and I would get aboard. Eventually I consolidated all of my emails into Gmail, so my data goes back to the early 90's for for google to just delete all of it with no reason why, man I'd be pissed. I think i'm going to spend today backing up some stuff to my server.
That was a great article +James Hugman about "Falsehoods Programmers Believe About Names" Thank for posting.
I wanted to make a quick recommendation to anyone reading this thread who is concerned about losing their data; if you value your content on G+ use the Data Liberation Tool and do it now. One of the most troublesome moments of being temporarily suspended for me was coming to terms with the fact that I had lost all my data/content (luckily got back). The Data Liberation Tool does NOT work at ALL when your account is suspended in fact, it actually shows up as you having NO data at all as if it were permanently deleted (again.. luckily this is not the case). My advice; to use that tool liberally (pun intended). I personally plan on making weekly, possibly even daily backups of my data here (side thought... it would be really sweet if they had differential and incremental backup options...).

The discussions I have here are really important to me, and if the time ever comes that I need to move it elsewhere (hopefully not), then I would like to be able to do so easily & completely. People who are overly concerned with google controlling/owning too much of their content and information should remember the golden rule; BACKUP your important data... plain and simple. The "cloud" is nice and all... but all it really means is that partaking in trust-based data storage - you're storing your important data on a server that you (1) don't own or (2) have physical access to (not ideal). So I suggest something I am sure you have all heard a millions times before but it never hurts to repeat, always back your stuff up onto a hard-drive that you DO own and have physical access to. Google is not the only entitiy allowed to own digital storage, remember that, and act accordingly. :)
Just drove up to Squamish, British columbia and the aboriginal word for Squamish (at least the English phonetic) had some characters i've never seen, as well as the number 7 half way through the word...

Very narrow minded of Google. There really is no other way about it, but they'll need to change their stance in light of global spelling issues.

Does this mean that all my japanese friends can't have their names in English since their proper names should be in hiragana? 
They should just say during the registration process: "Do you want to display only a nickname? Confirm NOW your identity and then you can do whatever you want with your nickname". Banning afterwards without saying anything during the registration is kinda bad.
I have two G+ accounts, one under my "work" name (this one) and another under the name that virtually all my friends, my wife, even my mother in law know me by and that I have used online and in daily life for more then a decade. It's none of Google's business how I define my identity. Both my names are "Real" names and combining them into a single profile would make no sense at all. If Google+ forces me to combine them my solution is to not use google+. And that would be a shame because in all other respects I think it's a great service.
I post under two names, one that I use with friends and acquaintances whom I meet face to face (this one), and another one that I use online when discussing politics, philosophy, religion, etc. These are controversial topics and by having a second identity I can express my ideas without worrying about some nut trying to physically "persuade" me of their opinions in the offline world. I don't use my second identity for anything-goes trolling. My second name is me but free to discuss more topics online.

If google plus prohibits pseudonyms, then that second identity will not be able to join google plus. All the world's online, interesting personalities will not be a part of the conversation. Google really does seem to be trying to ape some of the worst aspects of facebook in this. It is simply not needed.

Unless google just wants a credit card number associated with every account. I do make purchases under this ID, but my online presence doesn't have a credit card and has to rely on physical analogue to do the purchasing -- but it still happens.

I love google, but If they do not change course on this, then the mass of us will begin waiting once again for the facebook killer, and google plus will have become google buzz all over again.

BTW, a comment I had not envisioned even asking until now: how do I delete a google plus account without closing down my whole google/gmail identity? The integration of the two is really causing problems that contradict google's whole "Do no evil" mantra.
bad news, :( These behaviors are actually to expel the user, I more support FACEBOOK
I, as well as a friend of mine, use our google accounts to tie into other services, such as commenting systems on various blogs, and some of those blogs are very sensitive with regard to law enforcement investigations into criminal activity. Therefore, I use only my (real) first name and my last initial (my friend uses a pure pseudonym that she's become well known by around the world for over 7 years-- even the FBI and TSA refer to her by that pseudonym), because just like another commenter above, if my or my friend's real identity were to slip out, it could very literally put our lives in jeopardy since what we do involves criminal investigations prior to arrests or convictions.

I really can't fathom why the system doesn't allow privacy protections for real names if it's going to require them to begin with. And as for suspending, locking out, or otherwise removing access to a google account over a "non-real" full name in a beta test of a new service goes, it's completely ludicrous. I sincerely hope they get this mess sorted out real quick!
I think it's strange how google kicked muscle nerd off for not using his real name when all music people do it take Borgore for example he has tons of people on his an his google+ is therealborgore which isn't his real name and they not kicking music ppl off are there 
Google - this madness has turned me from a Gogle fan and evangelist to a seriously pissed of ex google fan . Just emailed all those FB friends I invited to G+ to leave it until this idiocy is sorted. I want to be able to keep my real name only visible to those circles I choose to share it with. But the really shocking issue is the way G have not just blocked peeps from G+ but taken down all their G services. Totally bad behaviour. Well known blooger @grrlscientist wrote this in The Guardian
Google this is behaviour is getting you some very bad reputational damage. All the fanfare about privacy and then this high handed policing is just wrong.
It sucks huge, but i ran into problems like this with FB as well. Sure i could of run two separate accounts but it was easier for my family and friends to just use my real name. For clan based games we all go by our gamer tag, so when making a Group on FB it was rather confusing and had to make a posted document to identity everyone, and to this day there are times where i have to refer to said document. It would of be so much easier if you could have two persona on one account. Google has an opportunity to fix that and go where FB hasn't gone before. hell even having as you do, your handle in parentheses would be nice, that can be done on FB, not now on Google apparently.
Frankly there really seems to be a simple solution to the whole 'real names' problem. If you prefer not to use a real name, simply use a different service. We have several fuel stations in my town, there are some that I like, which I frequent, and some that I do not like, which I avoid. I am sure there must be some product or service that the ones I avoid, provide that I am missing, but my choice to not frequent them, outweighs the potential loss. I can't imagine why people would get so up in arms about such a thing as choosing to not use a service that has a policy that they do not enjoy. Feel free to look me up on Facebook, I don't like what they have to offer so I have refrained from joining their service. Certainly there are a number of things that have occurred on Facebook that I would like to have been a part of but I chose not to attend them. As has been a statement by many for a long time, "Vote with your wallet" in this case I would say "Vote with your Application".
Ka Te
The sad thing is, I really trusted Google up to this point - but even before the bans came into play, when I noticed the change on ALL my accounts I requested they do something about it....what they've done is convinced me they don't give a fuck about their previously die-hard users. I actually wouldn't mind putting my real name on Google Plus. I wouldn't mind putting a photo of me on Google Plus - I just don't want it changing ALL my other services (in fact - Google Plus was the ONLY service I'd put a real photo of myself up on EVER.... but I changed it as soon as I saw it changed my G-chat icon). Really well-written article. I'm actually, honestly sad that I can't bring myself use this service until it's fixed.
Ka Te
Joel - excellent point, but it doesn't seem like Google cares. They're still boasting about how many people signed up for Google Plus, not a word is said about those who signed up then left, or how many have expressed displeasure with it. And, like I said - I'd have no trouble using my real name for Google Plus but doing so will cause everything I've posted using a Google ID (things from nearly a decade through a few weeks ago, said under either the influence of a stupid, immature brain or the knowledge of anonymity - bitching about my job, for example) would suddenly have my full name attached to it. I have accounts online associated with my real, full name. I do not use them to discuss work - my bosses have histories of performing internet searches on people. I don't think it's write for this kind of thing to suddenly alter your ENTIRE Google persona - not just Google+.
I wonder if this account of mine is still here only because when I used this gmail account out of various gmail accounts as the gmail account with which to test this newfangled service I was invited to test I didn't actually do much of anything with it other than to decide this new service didn't seem to be something awful I would not want various less data services / making money oriented gmail accounts to associate themselves with so sent 'myself personally, the person currently incumbent in the "makemoney" position at "knotwork"' an invite ... which I (me, the person operating the entity known as makemoney knotwork) have still to this day not yet received.

(Wow, sending email from one gmail account to another via google plus doesnt work! Hahahah ;) :D)

MarkM (In his capacity as the current operator of the component-entity known as makemoney knotwork)

(And yes, I expect google is well aware that markm operates and and the subdomains of those that he or some other gmail account he uses operates google adsense and site stats on. So yes, this really IS Makemoney Knotwork, aka aka, all of which are various real names of the entity currently using markm as its Organic Peripheral.)
Oh great, it won't even let markm SIGN the darn comment! Anyone knows that if some mangler inserted spaces between all the characters of markm's signature it would look like - M a r k M - which, thus mangled, is not how mark signs comments so presumably I am wrong, this organic peripheral is not the real markm, it is some other organic peripheral or a broken organic-peripheral-emulator...
Wow what a thread. Summary seems to be g is an anti-social network. If they think alternate names are a negative maybe those profiles should simply be moved to g- and people can chhose to visit g+ or g- depending on which circle they prefer at a given moment.

Where does Orku fit into all this? Is Orkjut for teenagrs and google+ for business not for social afterall leaving a void for g- to fill with social since evidently + is antisocial?
Facebook has been around for years now and google + wants to "innovate" the social network categorie. i think Facebook has yet more possibilities than G+.
Anyway great Job for Cydia keep on the good work! We are all fans.
I'm learning how to code jailbreak and i'm developping a new app that will allow you to modify everything on your springboard. Thanks my email is
Google wants Bruce Wayne, not Batman. But I want Batman.
True that an Apple social network would be awesome. If they were to they would AFTER the release of iOS5,iPhone5, and the ipod 5
Google+ is just available for everyone and now you are already complaining?!
If you do not like Google+ you just do not use it.
In any case, I think Google+ is ok, and we'll see how it progresses in the future.

Ps: Apologies for my poor English.
Well we are just saying (I LOVE Google+!!)
Well this does worry me, i use Google and its various apps under my Second life Avatar name. I am actually thinking of cancelling "Plus" in the hope it will save my email and other apps that i use all the time.
I work as a DJ using this name and don't want to use my real name... will Elton John be forced to use his real name "Reginald Kenneth Dwight"?
Google, just because Facebook did it, don't copy them!
i think that's a good thing. keepin' it real.
Sarah P
Why do they need my name?  Am I being tracked or something?  :J
mo mo
How do that 
Sarah P
Thanks for review.  I'm with you, the "irony" is more in google's branding "share what you want with whom you want"  It's a common political tactic and marketing manipulation, to claim something is the opposite of what it is.  The theory goes, people are less likely to question something due to the cognitive dissonance between claim and reality.   Awareness and critical thinking can challenge the cognitive dissonance, but most advertising media & populous political rhetoric are fed to be received in a semi-unconscious way.
I have just been able to get on my gmail I have not been on it n almost a year or longer I trusted someone an let them start me an account on there phone an ever since they got all my info they have locked my settings sync my phone everything goes right to there phone an I can c nothing or do nothing and the have also started twitter accounts , Facebook accounts an has kept all this hid so just to let everyone no it has not been Jeremy crum u have been talking to it has been Candice Osborne so want to say sorry because it's hard telling what she has put on here 
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