Google+ now lets you use a fake name

Some of you may recall that there was a bit of a hoo-ha over Google’s no-fake-name policy when Google+ launched three years ago. And it never really went away.

The Web giant was so antsy about the rule that it accidentally kicked William Shatner off its then fledgling social networking site in the belief that it wasn’t really William Shatner. But it was. The former captain of the Starship Enterprise subsequently had his account restored.

In an about-face, the Mountain View company on Tuesday surprised many by giving the green light for account holders to use any darn name they like – as long as it hasn’t been taken, of course. Whether it’s silly, weird, non-sensical, or just plain bonkers, Google+ will now welcome you and your made-up name with open arms.

‘No more restrictions’

In a post on its site, the company said that after relaxing the policy gradually over the last couple of years (including allowing +Page owners to use any name and letting YouTube users bring their usernames into Google+), it had decided to take the final step, announcing that “there are no more restrictions on what name you can use.”

“We know you’ve been calling for this change for a while,” the post said. “We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users.” Though hopefully Shatner’s over it by now.

“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.”

If you think the elimination of the naming restriction means that trolls will now be stripping down to their underpants to sit at their PC and fill Google+ (and YouTube) with comments ranging from unpleasant to bilious, the site’s chief architect, Yonatan Zunger, is reassuring users that “one of the reasons this is safe to launch is that our troll-smashing department has gotten very good at their job.”

The Web company will be hoping that by lifting the naming restriction on Google+ it’ll be able to boost its user base by attracting new members who were previously put off by the idea of having to use their real name.

So, were you a fan of the old rule? Sad to see it go? Sound off in the comments below.

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