In an effort to make Google+ a trustworthy social networking service, Google is exploring a policy of requiring members to use their real identity for their Google+ account. The policy, similar to the real name requirement for Facebook, follows the profile verification program Google started recently to verify celebrities and public figures who are added to lots of circles.
In a recent interview with Andy Carvin, of National Public Radio, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said, in part, that “G+ was build [sic] primarily as an identity service, so fundamentally, it depends on people using their real names if they’re going to build future products that leverage that information“. This means verified Google+ users will be able to easily identify themselves to many different online services.
Most users of social networking services understand that anonymous accounts invite spammers, scammers and trolls. But some critics contend that requiring real names could be problematic for ordinary users. For the more Google+ members connect to other services on the Internet via Google+, the more they reveal their identity to other sites, sometimes unknowingly. Also, CNN writer Pete Cashmore added that the verification move “is harmful to political activists, victims of harassment and numerous other groups for whom using a real name online might pose a safety risk“.
The verification policy doesn’t apply to most Google+ users – for now anyway – but Google is making plans to broaden its criteria for which members will need to verify their names. It will likely follow the real name policy of Facebook, one of its major competitors. Google said that before closing questionable accounts, affected members will have the opportunity to respond and clarify their identity.