Google's social network is on a rampage. It's banning people for using nicknames. It' s banning people for names that are too short. It's banning people for names that are too long. It's even banning people for having the wrong names.
A wave of name-related account closures swept Google Plus starting this weekend. That much is clear. What's totally unclear is what the rules are. Google's community standards say to "use the name your friends, family, or co-workers usually call you," but users are apparently also getting banned just because they're deviating from their legal full names, because their names aren't two words long, because their names are more than two words long, or because Google merely suspects their names are fake. There's no Google policy forbidding such practices, and indeed some celebrities on Google Plus do the same thing. It's a huge mess.
Here's a list of some of the names that have resulted in Google Plus bans, culled from accounts by tech writer Violet Blue, ex Googler Kirrily "Skud" Robert, developer Jay Freeman, Hacker News, Twitter and various other sources. All names are shown as they were entered into the Google Plus profile:
- Matthew Cock was "suspended pending review. Had this problem with [Facebook]. But I'm stubborn and won't change my name."
- Skud . (the period filled in as the last name), aka Kirrily "Skud" Robert, former Googler)
- MuscleNerd, " a very famous member of the iPhone Dev Team (with almost 230,000 followers on Twitter)."
- Limor "Ladyada" Fried, DIYer extraordinaire and Wired cover girl (her account was later restored)
- AV Flox, sex blogger
- Doctor Popular, nerdcore rapper
- Spidra Webster, vocalist (re-registered under her real name Megan Lynch)
Meanwhile, Google Plus has not bannned these false stage names:
- 50 Cent (real name Curtis James Jackson III)
- Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta)
- Bean Gala, aka Mr. Bean (a fictional character played by Rowan Atkinson)
Of course, it's easy for Google to make money off celebrities with fake names. For mere users, the company needs a solid identity to sell to advertisers, hence the obviously much stricter naming policies for mere mortals.