Google+, Day 5: The "Real Names" Debate

I haven't confirmed my theory with Google, but as far as I can tell as long as you enter a first and last name that seem relatively normal, don't use numbers or weird punctuation, only represent a single individual, and don't try to claim that you are Ashton Kutcher or Lady Gaga (unless you are--no offense to Ashton Kutcher or Lady Gaga), you should be fine.

"Real" to Who?

Speaking of Ashton Kutcher and Lady Gaga, though, those two pose a problem for the Google policy on names--as do many famous personalities. Kutcher's name is actually "Christopher Ashton Kutcher", and Lady Gaga is really "Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta". The Daily Show's Jon Stewart's real name is "Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz", the entertainer known as Pink is "Alecia Beth Moore", and Gene Simmons of KISS fame was born "Chaim Weitz".

Ashton Kutcher is on Google+, but his real name is Christopher Kutcher.
According to Google policy, these people should use their real full first and last name, and enter alternate nicknames, maiden names, and other "pseudonyms" in the "Other names" section of the Google+ profile. Google's Bradley Horowitz explains, "If you add nicknames, maiden names, etc. to the "Other names" portion of your G+ profile, those with permission to view those fields can search for you using that term. For example: some of my colleagues call me "elatable," a pseudonym I've used on many services, so I've added it to my list of other names."

I highly doubt that Google will shut down Ashton Kutcher's or Lady Gaga's Google+ profiles just because they don't use the names written on their birth certificates. They each have a full first and last name (although "Lady" and "Gaga" could be debated) that don't use any numbers, punctuation or special characters. They are only representing themselves as an individual, and they are not impersonating anyone else. Technically, it passes the Google "real name" test.

The bottom line is that there is really nothing stopping the political dissidents of the world--or anyone else who may have some reason to choose to hide their true identity--from using a pseudonym. The pseudonym just needs to conform to the "real name" rules.

As a quick side note: Ashton Kutcher does, in fact, have a Google+ profile, and it seems that he has followed Horowitz' advice, but in reverse. His primary profile seems to be "Ashton Kutcher", but if you search for "Christopher Kutcher" you will also find his profile which suggests that Kutcher has included "Christopher Kutcher" in the "Other names" section of his Google+ profile.

As for Lady Gaga--Google should do a search for that name and get to work policing the "real names" policy.

Read the last "30 Days" series: 30 Days With the iPad

Day 4: Pros and Cons of Circles

Day 6: Anatomy of a Google+ Post

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