Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Google+ Opens Its Doors

There is good news from Google+. The social networking service is now explicitly permitting people who use pen names and stage names to join. Ringo, you will no longer have to sneak in under the ropes if you want to get in. Google+ had sometimes tolerated accounts of performers and writers using their professional names, but many such accounts had been abruptly canceled, and people who had those accounts were often fearful of participating in Google+ because of the reports that this could increase the risk of losing their accounts.

Acknowledging that it has been shutting people out in the past, Google+ now says anyone is free to sign up using their well-known public name — probably not today, but by next week at the latest. It will no longer automatically boot out users whose names seem suspicious. Instead, it will put the accounts on hold and ask the users to demonstrate that their names are known to the public, by pointing to something like a web site or a news story. Or, if that name that Google thinks is fishy is actually your official name, you can just show it an official document. Even better, people who change their names can now change the name they display on Google+.

This may help fill in some of the gaps in Google+, which compared to other social networks has a notable absence of thought leaders of all kinds. It will take more than just opening the doors to change the scene, but at least it is now possible for Google+ to be in on public events and trends, instead of just observing from the outside.