unnamed (6)

Since the beginning of Google+ itself, the service has required as part of its registration process that users fill out their real names in order to create a profile. Since the beginning of Google+ itself, people have found various ways to skirt this requirement, Google has added support for 'established' pseudonyms, and dropped the real name requirement for Google+ pages.

A lot of this, it seemed, was an effort to reign in the anonymous hate speech and trolling rampant on things like, I don't know, YouTube. Today, though, Google finally gave up - you can now register on Google+ with any name you want, and go back to leaving nastigrams on cat videos as MeatFartMachine666 without that whole "identifying yourself" thing getting in the way.

A lot of the reason behind this change is almost undoubtedly owed to the rather strong online backlash to revelations of US spying programs and the increasing public awareness of internet surveillance around the world. As such, "online pseudonym" has become more synonymous with "privacy protection" than it has "excuse to be a jerk," and Google is almost definitely responding to that evolving connotation.

You can see the official announcement on the Google+... Google+ page, here.

David Ruddock
David's phone is whatever is currently sitting on his desk. He is an avid writer, and enjoys playing devil's advocate in editorials, and reviewing the latest phones and gadgets. He also doesn't usually write such boring sentences.

  • Nasko Hristov

    This is a step closer to what I should call selfdestruction.

    • Thomas’

      Meh. reddit works perfectly fine w/o real names.

      • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

        And 4chan, too!


        • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

          I bet you often visit /b there, don't ya David?

        • Toboe

          There is places with nicknames that are civil and there is places with nicknames that aren't civil.
          Where does that lead us? Nicknames don't make you civil/uncivil.

        • herbdrank


  • TheSparks

    I'd prefer like how it was before, don't like this fake name thing.

    • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

      I'm right there with you. If you don't want to use your real name on a social network, find another social network, or don't use social networks in the first place. 95% of the evil, mean things said on the internet come down to the ability to not attach a real name to them. The other 5% are assholes with nothing to lose in the first place.

      • Larry Simpson

        Except when you're forced to use it like G+ was forced. YouTube, playstore reviews, etc

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ David Ruddock

          Why let people say mean things on those places, either? It's not like having a closed G+ profile with your real name and no photo somehow is a huge privacy invasion. If you want to put yourself out there, put yourself out there - I really hate this whole attitude of "I need to do everything on the internet anonymously."

          • Larry Simpson

            I never said anything about saying mean things. It's about the forced usage of G+ and always has been. Some folks, like myself, never had a single intention to use G+. Now then lessen it and it's a problem? To each his own, you don't like it but I do.

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            You don't like G+ then don't use Google? The name is literally Google Plus, as in, Google and then some.

          • tokuiten

            Hey, I'm transgender.

            Before I came out, there was no way no how I'd even consider associating my real name with any trans-related discussion.

            There are legitimate privacy concerns that have nothing to do with having the ability to say mean things.

          • mateor

            So to spare people from reading Mean Things, all internet traffic, comments and profiles should be real names?

            Why invent the internet if it is just another extension of your public life? The internet should be a place where people can investigate new things without shame or censure.

            There are things about me I might share on a message board that I might not want my family to know. And vice-versa. The level of sharing should be the choice of the individual. And no, telling people to get off social media if they don't like it is not the answer.

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            Because in my public life I can't chat simultaneously with someone from India, China, and Russia with ease and for free?
            Are you really arguing that without anonymity the internet would not be useful?

          • Dario · 753 a.C. .

            yes, why not? why don't you have to do everything anonymously? when you get out and you walk in your city, do you use to take a piece of paper with your name on your face? don't you do everything anonymously in reality? none knows who you are. why on internet do they have to know who i am?

          • Dalvik

            Security experts would disagree with you David.
            While NSA and law enforcer will be happy with your decision.

          • unknown

            "I really hate this whole attitude of "I need to do everything on the internet anonymously."

            Ah, if only the whole earth lived under your First Amendment.

        • Matt

          Yup, the problem is apparent if you think about every time you might comment on a video or something and somebody disagrees with it (let's say, a troll). Suddenly, they've got your full name, which they can utilize to find your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn account, your work e-mail, and cyber-stalking or cyber-bullying is an option. I can understand why it might reduce trolling, but at the same time it definitely can inhibit insightful comments if somebody fears disagreement (e.g., over gun rights, politics, abortion, or other hot button topics). It's similar to the reason I don't use the Facebook commenting systems on websites; I don't need somebody reading a blog to know what my sister's name is or what school I went to. There are definitely two sides to this coin.

          • BetterWithRoot

            I agree.
            "Don't Dox me Bro!"

          • Larry Simpson

            Exactly man!!! It's not about trolling. I want to be able to use the internet anonymously. I don't want others to see what I liked, what I may comment on, etc. I haven't commented on a play store app or youtube video in years simple because of G+. I find it extremely creepy when I go to the play store on my phone and see my friends who +1 and review are online for anyone to see. When I show half of them, they freak out because they never realized it was public. That's why I hate G+.

          • Matt

            Yeah, I have the same concern. It's weird seeing how old work colleagues reviewed an app or what game they're playing, especially because those reviews show up at the top of the review page. For me, it's not a relevant source of info. If the option were available to select circles that can see your ratings or whose ratings you can see, I would definitely rate more apps. I don't need somebody I haven't seen in 6 years to know that I gave Nova Launcher a 5 star review for the latest L release updates, nor do I care that my third cousin is using Swiftkey.

            I can see why some people might, but all I'd like is some more fine-grained control of that Google+ profile. Allow reviews that don't necessarily show up at the top of the page for your friends, allow you to comment on blogs and YouTube without including your full name, allow you to circles whose reviews you're interested in and block ones whose reviews you find irrelevant. It's just about having more fine-grained control.

          • Lisa R. Johnson


            ☛☛☛ ☛�☛☛ ☛☛☛ ☛�☛☛ ☛☛☛

          • D.I.

            My mother-in-law's stepfather's husband-in-law made elebenty bajillion dollars last month alone surfing the interwebbietubes! And you can too. Just go here: http://bit.ly/1cM9hz1

          • ruthwlandrum

            my buddy's sister makes $87 every hour on the internet
            . She has been unemployed for 6 months but last month her payment was $19402
            just working on the internet for a few hours. go right here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

          • Itchy_Robot

            Amen brother. Well said.

          • frafri

            You want to be able to use the internet anonymously!!! . DID I JUST READ THAT ?

          • Pooka-kun

            If you don't like the idea of friends looking up your reviews, then why review in the first place? Your reviews of an application are always meant to be public to everyone, and if your friends didn't find them via Google+, they can via Google Play or YouTube. Even if you took out Google+ out the way, your friends could still find out what you wrote. The fact that you're THAT paranoid is delicious. What's wrong with a friend knowing you gave SwiftKey zero stars for instance, but via Google+? The review is public on Google Play Store. PUBLIC. How is it wrong if its shared to Google+ for the same PUBLIC to see? Answer me honestly.

            And then 30 more paranoid heads thumbs up your post.

          • abobobilly

            Don't you guys use privacy options or something, to hide your friends list from other people?

          • someone755

            People appear to not know about these.
            Though to be honest, I, too, am guilty of not using these when in fact I should have long ago.

          • dude

            There are lots more implication to having to use your real name that some don't consider, such as your information being collected and nasty people could stalk you and your family and try to hack your accounts. I didn't see too many trolls dropping even with the real name requirement.

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            Look for me on Facebook, you'll be shocked how many people have my not that common at all name.

          • Matt

            Yeah, except just from you posting this comment and having Disqus linked to Google+, I know what your wife looks like/her name, where she works, what your baby looks like, what her name is, in which city you live, what ISP you're using, etc. This is all within 3-4 clicks and 5 minutes of scrolling. If I wanted to narrow down the Facebook account and LinkedIn profile, I could do that, too. I have no interest in it (I don't know you, I'm not interested in your family life or where you work) and assure you I will forget all that stuff within another 5 minutes. It's really not that hard to get a lot of information even if you're not trying hard. Same is, I'm sure, true about me...this is linked to my Twitter profile and I know I haven't done a great job policing it, but I still like the option of hiding information during anonymous online comments.

          • herbdrank

            Yea I'm surprised how many people spell my name the way I do. Here I was thinking that different vowel was unique

        • Pooka-kun

          Except when you created an account on Google, you've also created a YouTube account, a PlayStore account, a Google whatever account, etc. It even shows that when you sign into GMail:

          "One account. All of Google."

          Notice the keyword "All."

          • Dario · 753 a.C. .

            i'm forced to create an account as well in some way... or google has to let you use playstore without a google account.

          • Mkvarner

            You can use other stores like F-Droid.

          • Pooka-kun

            They can't let you join the fun of Play Store without something that gives you an identity, and that thing is your GMail account. Isn't it better than having two seperete accounts on the same service?

            You have to have GMail in order for Play Store to track your app purchases. Without this it'd be a chaotic mess by now.

          • Dario · 753 a.C. .

            i know... what i said before was a sort of provocation. anyway one year ago you could review app on playstore anonymously without a g+ profile

          • Krzysztof Jozwik

            I don't get why people are so bothered by a Google account being a Google account. It was a pain in the ass when I was signed into Gmail having to sign into Drive, maybe it was docs back then, but it made no sense.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          How about you leave reviews to 1-5 stars if you're that scared your real name will cause you great harm when you explain bugs. I know commenting on YouTube is a God given right, especially anonymously talking shit.

        • Ricardo Contreras

          Forced? I'm sorry do you know the definition of force? You can simply stop using those services, no one is making you do anything.

      • Dr. Giygas Devereaux

        Don't forget the old people who do nothing but complain in online newspaper comment sections and brand pages!

      • TheSparks

        Couldn't have said it better mate.

      • ProductFRED

        I don't say anything bad to people on YouTube and I prefer to use my online alias (ProductFRED). Furthermore, YouTube isn't a social network. It's a site with videos and comments. Just like Android Police is a site with articles and comments, not a social network.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          It does not imply you want to know someone, it implies that it is a network of people that is social by nature. Therefore, YouTube is a social network, you connect with people, follow them, comment on their shit.

          • ProductFRED

            No... I don't follow anyone on YouTube. I find a video I want. I watch it. If it's a technical video and I have a question to ask, I post a comment. If someone needs help, I post a comment. That's it. I don't connect with anyone on there, just like I don't know you or want to connect with you here.

      • andy_o

        Is there any evidence that this "real"name thing had any impact on people saying mean things?

        Also, I don't know how much the real names policy mattered for the vast majority of people who could just open an account under any name. I have had a couple for years, one for personal things and friends and another with a pseudonym for public commenting, which I used to have under the same name as my personal one, until I found out youtube shares on G+ get forcibly mirrored on youtube, along with the comments (which is another problem, with youtube commenters now polluting the G+ posts of the person you follow).

      • ins0mn1a

        >If you don't want to use your real name on a social network, find another social network, or don't use social networks in the first place.

        this is the same argument like "if you haven't done anything wrong, what's the problem with secret agencies spying and recording your every move?".

        google ecosystem is now the place where everything you say should be visible to everyone, forever. every word on youtube and play store, attached to your first and last name and photo, is visible to your grandparents, boss, colleagues, ex lovers, potential stalkers, various hate groups, crazy dictators and their death squads (if you have the misfortune to live in such a place) etc. this is fine, in a sense that one has a choice whether to participate or not, but it sounds terribly boring and sterile.

        • Krzysztof Jozwik

          Or you post privately?
          If you don't want everyone to see something, I'd suggest you don't post it on the internet, or you use something that is inherently private.
          Why must you call someone a faggot cunt fuck shit fucker on YouTube and have that protected? If you're a childish fool, you should be harmed professionally as you're a liability to the company, and embarrassing to your parents / grandparents.

          • ins0mn1a

            i don't want to post privately. that is not how internet should work. i want to communicate with people, but without sharing *everything* (which is what you are effectively doing when you have your real name and picture slapped there). i consider that to be a very reasonable expectation. the fact that something is abused by idiots doesn't mean we should just banish the thing. otherwise we might as well get rid of roads, air, food and electricity, since those are undeniably used by criminals before, during, and after comitting a crime.

          • Stoffers

            What are you posting that you need to post on Google services that you don't want anyone to know about? There are so many places where you can post anonymously, what does it matter what Google requires on its services?

          • ins0mn1a

            it's irrelevant what i or anyone else would post. i simply don't want *everyone* on the whole damn planet knowing what movies i watched, what apps i use, what i think about whatever issue was the topic of some youtube video. of course you can avoid google-verse, but what we are discussing here is the principle (plus avoiding youtube and app play store is pretty annoying).

          • fasdf

            Dude you have a small brain if you can't think of examples. Will you post a review on google maps for an impotency doctor's office? Or abortion clinic? Or a bar?

            Even more benign, try to post a review about a day care center and it might cost you job opportunities because companies dont want to hire women with children.

            Post a comment about politics on cnn and experience the same thing.

            There is a thousand things that could screw over adults with real responsibilities. I guess thats not a problem for losers like you!

          • ins0mn1a

            fun fact: i think our friend stoffers here changed his original user name. it would seem he got spooked when someone in the comments above found a bunch of personal information about him in something like 3 clicks.

            if so, this would just be one of those weird ironies: the guy spent hours lecturing everyone about internet pseudonymes being literally hitler ;).

      • Max Harry Johnson

        I hope this image attach work.

      • BozzyB

        Google+ is different from other social networks. I mainly use it to comment public articles. An option to just hide the surname would be perfect. You could reply to individuals and keep up the conversation in a proper manner but also with the right amount of privacy.

      • Dario · 753 a.C. .

        i've never used my real name on disqus, and i think i've never trolled you or something else... so.... nickname doesn't mean only troll.

      • Pseudonym

        That's a ridiculous thing to say when to access regular services you must sign up to the network. Look, G+ was fine when it released and was just a simple benign network doing its own thing, but when it began to infest other existing services, well all the hate it received has been deserved. People deserve anonymity, and they deserve not to be prosecuted for that desire. So shame on you for twisting this issue and only pushing one view in regards to pseudonyms.

      • fattire

        So which am I? I don't call people names, so I must be an asshole. I can FINALLY join G+ now.

      • fasdf

        I have never reviewed any app or restaurant because i dont want my private life publicized in searchable format. Now they let us use fake names but, after witnessing the mess of real names being linked to historical youtube comments and ruining peoples careers, I'm still boycotting doing anything publicly on my google account

      • Toboe

        Who came up with the shit "no real name" ->"be the scum of the universe"?

      • Michael Fontenot

        I changed my mind. Thanks, David. BTW, I'm Michael. Also thanks for setting me back on the straight and narrow I misstep sometimes. (edit)

    • Firmino

      I always use my real name. Don't like this too.

      • ProductFRED

        You're using your real name right now, right?

        • Firmino


          • ProductFRED

            Where's your last name?

          • Firmino
          • ProductFRED

            It's good that you feel comfortable posting your personal information out in the open. However, not everyone would take kindly to my last comment. People have the right to comment semi-anonymously online. I don't want people knowing my real name or where I live or where I work. You never know what kind of crazy people you'll run into online.

    • Paul_Werner
    • abobobilly

      I'd agree completely. If we just think about YouTube, i have seen great reduction in number of stupid troll/spam messages. Not that its a plus point because comment system shouldn't use G+ in the first place, unless "we want it to".

      However, argument could be made regarding privacy conscious people. But Google is Google, They don't care about the group of people who don't share their sentiments (yea, sue me, i said that).

    • Dario · 753 a.C. .

      you can use your real name if you like real name. i'll use my nickname.
      we don't force you to use nickname so we don't want to be forced to use real name

      • Stoffers

        I don't have a nickname, so I hope you won't force me to use it. Is that some kind of a "only cool kids with nicknames" club you're in?

        • Dario · 753 a.C. .

          So... Stof is your name and fers your last name? Why don't you use name and last name?

        • Toboe


          Having a freedom (in this case: to use nicknames) doesn't mean "only cool kids" club.

    • shonangreg

      That's rich -- coming from a guy identifying himself as "TheSparks".

      • TheSparks

        You joker, Google+ is different it's a social network, Disqus isn't.
        Does your brain understand that tiny concept now?

        • Toboe

          Something to leave comments is entirely different from something to leave comments. Sure!

    • dkbnyc

      So your mother named you TheSpaks?

    • Phil

      and that's why you are posting with your real name here, right?!

  • RadarJammer

    The russian Troll factories will rejoce. More battlegound for covert information warfare.

    • Toboe

      As faking "average Joe" names was impossible before.
      Oh and: Mister Jammer...

  • Testraindrop

    Well, everybody who wanted to have a G+ Account without a real name could easily do it before also (like me).

    Just use something "plausible" like Darth Vader, Joe Average etc. for example, worked fine ;)

    • shonangreg

      Many of us has long-established pseudonyms that were never intended to look like "real names". Google shot itself in its plus-sized hip by excluding such existing online groups when it started and needed good press and lots of activity. It was dumb, dumb, dumb.

      • Testraindrop


  • moelsen8

    I can appreciate what they were trying to do but it kept me off google+. Especially since my name is pretty much my gmail address. +1

  • Larry Simpson

    Finally!!! A step in the right direction. Now more G+ deintegration is needed

    • Imparus


      • Pooka-kun

        I doubt the G+ deintegration you wish for would happen. When you log into GMail, you get this "One account. All of Google."

        Notice the "All."

      • shonangreg

        Google Plus photo sync automatically turns itself on even after I've turned it off on several of my devices. Google Plus sync does so as well on accounts I've never set it to use. Every week I have to check and turn then back off again.

        If Google can't manage it right, it needs to be broken into pieces.

        • Imparus

          That is clearly a bug. So you are saying they should destroy something that work for everyone else expect you with a bug? heck you are even on a site such as AP, so you should be enough of a power user to know that and either being able to fix it or report it :-/

    • PiLoT .

      yay fragmentation again!!

  • Dave

    It's kinda stupid because if you change your name on G+ it automatically changes it in Gmail as well. On G+ I'd like to shorten my name, but on Gmail this won't be looking good while writing formal mails :(

    • Dario · 753 a.C. .

      if you use a different client you can choose the name you want when you send emails.

  • NF

    This is tragic news.

    • Dami

      No, it is not.

    • shonangreg

      Says pseudonymous NF. Could you be any less self-aware?

      • NF

        Those are my actual initials, and that is my actual face. I'm not trying to hide, I'm just lazy when signing up for stuff.

  • GloriaPThorne

    my roomate's mother-in-law makes $63 /hour on the internet . She has been out of a job for five months but last month her pay check was $12252 just working on the internet for a few hours. try this site>>>>>>>>


  • tokuiten

    I just want the ability to fill in a middle name.

    I go by my full name on as much social media as possible. My G+ profile looks weird with only my first and last names, but I don't want to have to have to put my middle name into the first name field.

  • Fatal1ty_93_RUS

    Wow, I must say that when father of G+ left Google - that was the best day in company's history. This just proves it.

    • Stoffers

      What makes you say that? You have evidence Vic was against this? According to the post he was all for it.

    • miri

      One of the reasons they're doing it now is that they've greatly improved their tools for protecting against abuse of the system.

  • HolyFreakingCrap

    I still cant make comments on Youtube with out connecting my G+ account unless I am missing something.

    • PhilNelwyn

      "Google+ Drops Questionable Real Name Requirement..."
      That is all.

  • dude

    Good because they didn't believe Max Harry Johnson is my real name.

  • Dario · 753 a.C. .


  • Dakota

    They don't know what your REAL name is.. You just create a fake profile

    • Stoffers

      They do know my real name, as I use wallet.

      • woolber

        then use multiple account. [strong]using a single account for all things is like putting all eggs in one basket[/strong]. wait till you read scary story from arstechnica.

  • Pseudonym

    I'm disappointed in the stance AP has taken on this topic. They consciously exclude the other side of the pseudonym argument and only talk about trolls rather than talk about people who wish to hide from prosecution, don't want a paper trail following the sites they use even if the sites are normal and want to be able to discuss topics without the fear of retribution from trolls or others. Privacy, anonymity and pseudonyms are absolutely valid concerns in this new age of surveillance and ubiquitous information where even YOU can google someone and within an hour have an excellent view of someones personality, what they look like, where they go and possibly even more important real life information. I encourage everyone to do everything on their power to make themselves feel safe online. AP has been an excellent source of Android news in the past but this issue is so important to me I really feel like I might migrate to a different site. I just have to find one...

    • Stoffers

      Why not have two accounts, one for yourself that you're willing to express publicly, one for the side of you're self which you're ashamed of or too scared to show? I guess if you live in one of the ass backwards countries that puts people to death for their beliefs you should probably just be more careful, as your life is on the line. But for the rest of the world, having a "you with a fake name" and a "you for the world to see" account can't be too hard.
      I highly doubt they'd ever delete someone for having the name John Smith or Sally Williams.

      • Stoffers

        Also, AP didn't take a stand, David did.

        • Dalvik

          Yep just David

        • dude

          I think Google knows more about me now than I know myself.

      • Pascal

        exactly, I have 2 g+ accounts, fb etc. One normal and one with nick.

    • ins0mn1a

      i agree with you, but as you said, this is the place for android news. maybe we shouldn't burden it with high expectations in other areas.

    • Dalvik

      Hmm I don't think anyone need to migrate to different site just because AP, no, just one of its staff, has different view on anonymity with rest of us. If you do that, well, it kinda childish :)

  • joser116

    YouTube trolls everywhere will NOT cheer; Google allowed pseudonyms to be used after backlash from users and privacy critics following the YouTube/G+ integration.

  • black

    Finally! I can hide under the name 'black'.

  • Barack Obama

    Finally! A change that I like

    • Raul C

      what the hell... :D

  • FrillArtist

    How about you just report the news objectively without slant...

  • Dave

    No one can make me write my name on the internet... i always use fake names.

  • blindexecutioner

    It wasn't very hard to use a fake name. I have a Gmail/Youtube/Old Google + account with a fake name and have had it for a very long time. It isn't like they know your name is fake if you are consistent across services.

  • Pascal

    I still used my nick on YT. so it wasn't necessary.

  • Robert_AU

    Plenty of idiots saying this is all about trolling... How about wanting to have your youtube name match the tag used on forums or other networks? How about wanting to keep personal hobbies and professional life separate? How about wanting to push back against the invasive nature of Google+? I've had a Gmail account since it was invite only and I'm still stuck with the massive privacy hole that it g+. My public g+ profile is empty and I refuse to even use it with friends and family. Half of the people that show as have me in their circles I've never heard of and have no interest in being in contact with but I can't block or remove them...

    • primalxconvoy

      Exactly. Since Google Minus arrived, I've been LESS interested in Google products. If they'd just have kept the original system, I'd be an avid fan. Now, they are in the same boat as Facebook and I trust them as much as I trust Facebook.

      Guess how much that is?

  • coolsilver

    So in the overjoy of the announcement... details are you are still forced into using a name Google wants you to use. No thanks.

  • Michael Fontenot

    This actually kind of bothers me even though I use my real name. I just have a nickname on there.

  • didibus


    A move in the right direction. It would be nice now to keep pushing Google+ away from other google products.

  • primalxconvoy

    I think the REAL reason was due to a perfectly normal and usable Google system being slowly but forcibly changed to another system that them forced users to change names that they were perfectly happy with. Online names are part of some people's desire to create (a name or persona). Users on YouTube and Google Play were not happy with this.

    Now, if they can just stop Google Minus from sharing info between apps and services, so our website history doesn't one day interrupt our Google docs-fueled PowerPoint presentation, then Google can move on from this horrible mess.