When Google launched its social network three years ago, it mandated that users use their real names, a la Facebook. The general idea was that this would help consolidate a user's identity across Google's myriad services, but it drew some criticism from some Google users who wanted to conceal their true identities.
"This helped create a community made up of real people," says an update on the official Google+ page, "but it also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names."
Yesterday, Google announced it is changing its policy, which mean you now can use a false name on Google+.
Requiring that users provide their actual names made for some clumsy conversion efforts on Google's part, namely for YouTube users, who were constantly badgered to link to their Google+ account. Now that's no longer the case. Continues Google:
We know you've been calling for this change for a while. We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users. For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be.
In April, Vic Gundotra, the engineer in charge of Google+ announced his departure from the company, leaving the fate of the search giant's social network in jeopardy. But with this week's announcement, it looks like Google is still putting some thoughtful effort into improving the Plus experience—even if it is for a tiny but dedicated community.