If you want to cheer or jeer for an app in the Google Play store, you’ll have to do it with your real name from now on.
Search giant Google has started requiring that anyone who submits a review at its online app store use their Google+ identity, or if they don’t have one, set one up.
When you attempt to post a review to the Google Place site, you will be greeted with the following:
“Google Play is now connected with Google+ to help you find reviews you trust.
“New reviews will be posted publicly using your Google+ name and picture. Your name on previous reviews will appear as ‘A Google User.'”
Google+ names are mostly the real names of its users, a decision that has drawn criticism from some corners of the Internet community in the past .
The move has some benefits for review readers. For example, it allows them to evaluate a review based on who wrote it. That could cut down on spam, glowing reviews by shills for developers and vitriol from curmudgeons. It could possibly improve the quality of the reviews, too, as reviewers who use their real names are likely to temper their scribblings with more thought than those who don a cloak of anonymity.
Moreover, comments from people with real names are more likely to capture a developer’s attention and be a stimulus for improving an application than spew from an anonymous writer with an unbridled id.
On the other hand, fewer reviews may be posted to the site because people may feel that if they speak their mind without the protection of anonymity, they may be subject to harassment by every nut on the Internet.
In addition, some writers may be reluctant to contribute to the site for fear that if their real name is associated with a review, the review may be associated with their employer, which could have consequences at their place of employment.
Furthermore, a reviewer may find it an imposition to be required to sign up for Google+ in order to express their opinion of a product — although it’s pretty difficult to avoid getting chained to Google+ if you do anything on the Internet these days.
This latest move by Google to get users of its services to use their real names follows a similar action last summer on YouTube , which is owned by the search giant. At that time, people seeking to comment on a video were asked to start using their Google+ identity.
However, a commenter on YouTube can refuse to use their real name. Reviewers of Google Play content cannot.
John Mello writes on technology and cyber security for a number of online publications and is former managing editor of the Boston Business Journal and Boston Phoenix. Disclosure: He also writes for Hewlett-Packad's marketing website TechBeacon.