When Google first launched Google+ there was a lot of rumor about the ‘real name policy’ which Google uses. You are only allowed to sign up to Google+ (and now to all Google products at once) with your real identity. Using a pseudonym is not allowed.
Google now launches a new feature to Google+ which will allow users to add a nickname to their Google Profile. Note though that the nickname is not the same as a pseudonym. Setting up an anonymous Google+ account will still not be possible.
In a post on Google+ yesterday Google VP of Product Bradley Horowitz announced that Google is adding the feature:
“Over the next week, we’ll be adding support for alternate names – be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script – alongside your common name. This name will show up on your Google+ profile and in the hovercards which appear over your name.”
Google analyzed the ‘wishes’ of those registering and came to the conclusion that most people don’t mind using their own name:
– The majority (60%) of these users want to simply add nicknames.
– About 20% of appeals are actually businesses (who are inadvertently trying to set up their business as a Profile, rather than using Google+ Pages which were intended for this purpose.)
– And the remaining 20% would either prefer to use a pseudonym or another unconventional name.
Important to note is that the name will show up as a nickname, not a pseudonym. You will still have to set up your account with your real name. The name you can attach is only a nickname. The advantage of this is that it will show up on your Profile and later on more broadly on other Google properties.
This means that if you are using your companies name in your Twitter handle for example you could do the same on Google+, your real name however will be connected to that specific handle.
Lady Gaga gets a pseudonym
There is one way in which you can use only a pseudonym, which is not attached to your profile. These are meant for for example Lady Gaga, who just signed up to Google+ last week (not a coincidence). You can sign up for a new account and request to use a pseudonym, but then you will have to be reviewed by Google. You then have to ‘proof’ who you are and why you should be allowed the pseudonym.
How to set up the nickname
It is actually really simple to add a nickname to your profile:
1. Sign in to your Google profile.
2. Click Edit profile.
3. Click on your name.
4. Click More Options.
5. Add your nickname and choose the way you’d like it to be displayed on your profile from the drop down menu.
6. Click Save, and then click Done editing.
What’s in it for Google?
Now Google doesn’t make these kind of changes for no reason. If you read Horowitz’ post and especially the comments it sounds like Google has ‘listened’ to their users and ‘granted’ them with the nicknames.
Without a doubt that is part of the story. However there are two otter main advantages for Google to implement this change. First of all it allows Google to get celebrities like Lady Gaga in, which will help increase the awareness and popularity of the product. Celebrities can really help boost a social network, as we’ve seen with Twitter for example.
The other big advantage for Google is that people will want to connect a nickname to their profile which they are already using on other Social Networks, like Twitter for example. With ‘getting’ the connection between the pseudonym used on Twitter and the Google+ account Google can also get some more information on us, to make that profile more relevant and more useful when serving personalized results in Google Search Plus Your World. It is again another way of identifying us on the web.