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Google+ bans real name under ‘Real Names’ policy

Don’t be evil different

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First, Google sparked a furor by banning pseudonyms from Google+ under its “Real Names” policy. Its next row, now warming up in Australia, is the banning of real names that happen to lie outside the programmers’ assumptions.

An Australian journalist and commentator, who changed his legal name to the mononym Stilgherrian many years ago, has been bounced from Google+ on the basis of his name.

He describes his experience in an intemperate and NSFW rant here (classification warning: strong language).

The gist is this: mononyms (which actually occur outside the rather cloistered world of the Chocolate Factory) don’t fit the database rules, and are therefore banned by policy. And Stilgherrian, whose real name (that is, the one legally recognized by Australian authorities) is exactly as it appears – one word, no firstname-lastname pair – has had his account suspended.

The Google machine that sent the form letter announcing the account suspension demanded that “The Names Policy requires that you use the name that you are commonly referred to in real life”.

In a follow-up e-mail, Google+ suggests “If you edit your name to comply with our policies in the future … we can re-review your profile”.

Google+, it seems, is definitive, although reality is frequently inaccurate. ®

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