• 07/25/2011
    5:56 PM
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Google+ Profiles: Just What Gets You Booted?

Pseudonyms, odd spellings, and branded profiles get users kicked off Google+ without warning, but you can appeal.

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Also, even though the "daily life" phrase seems to leave room for flexibility, users trying to get their profiles restored have reported being told that they need to provide a government issued ID as proof of their right to use a specific name.

Avoid unusual characters in your name

Including punctuation marks or numbers in your name could raise a red flag. Google doesn't want you to use a title such as Dr. or Prof. in the first or last name field, and even a suffix such as Jr. (with the period) has been reported to cause problems.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak initially set up his profile using Unicode international characters to make it appear he had spelled his name upside-down (Google had him fix this without deleting his account). Google now specifies that you should spell your first and last name "in the same language" meaning also the same character set.

A profile should represent a person, not a group or business

This is the rule that is being enforced to shut down business accounts, but Google also says you shouldn't have a single profile to represent a couple or any other group of people. Google did go public early on with a request to businesses not to create profiles because it wasn't ready for them, but this was widely ignored. Techcrunch blogger MG Siegler briefly established a profile as "Techathew Cruncherin" as a way of protesting the way other businesses were flouting the rules and driving significant traffic to their sites, while Techcrunch had been trying to play by the rules. But the Techcrunch profile was subsequently shut down, along with Mashable's and many other business accounts.

Enforcement is uneven, and it's still easy to find active business profiles like the one for Lyons Toyota, a dealership in Mason City, Iowa. But if you should succeed in attracting significant attention to a business profile, you would also be more likely to attract the attention that will get it shut down.

Suspensions can be appealed

One of the complaints about Google's policy is that accounts are suspended without warning. Once you have received a suspension notice, however, you can file an appeal "to support the claim that you are using a name in compliance with our policy," according to a support forum post by Google+ Community Manager Natalie Villalobos.

Open source hardware maker Limor "Ladyada" Fried was able to get her profile restored after it was shut down over the weekend. It may have been flagged because the profile was at one point published under the name "Adafruit Industries." Celebrity helps: Fried was recently on the cover of Wired.

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re: Google+ Profiles: Just What Gets You Booted?

The problem I have with being forced to use real life names as opposed to a name you want to known as is Domestic Violence. Has Google even thought about the amount of victims that want to connect and not hide anymore. Does Google have any idea how many victims are in hiding and if their spouses or ex spouses find them what may very likely happen to them? Does Google have any idea what the Hell they are doing? Does Google care if I use Google+ or say screw you Google, I'll stick with Facebook and Twitter where I can use a pseudonym. Does Google want to take the civil responsibility of the consequences of those people who are in hiding and forced to use their real names? Sure, I know, we certainly have no obligation to use Google's new social media. Yep they're right. Just like the lady that drank the hot coffee at McDonalds and it too hot for her. She sued, won a couple hundred thousand dollars. Now who wouldn't expect the coffee to be hot? Still, the law prevailed on her side. Does Google want me (and I use it in the 1st person only for easier to read purposes) to just say Hey thanks google+ but no thanks, I can connect fine on LOTS of other social media and i don't really care about yours. Because you have taken anonymity away from me. So Good luck with that venture and i'll be sure to advise the worldwide organization I volunteer for on the domestic violence issue to stay away too. Better those few million people in hiding all over the world stay away from the rigidity of Google+ I will also be more than happy to go to my local shelters, rape victims right organizations and let them know that this is not the social media outlet for them. You have to give your rapist your real name. After they spent all that time in jail based on your testimony and so what if you moved to a new state, country or town? Google+ doesn't care about you, your privacy or anything else.

On the other hand, I see Google+ point of view, a lot of very sketchy characters could be hiding out in the nether regions of the vast internet. Altho, they are already firmly ensconced. In my opinion my fear outweighs Google+ rigidity and my domestic violence, rape victims needs far outweigh the use of a real name on Google+ So I may just have to say adios Google+ too bad, cuz I kinda liked the format. food for thought Google. I know you guys that founded Google must be about 27 by now, but surely you do understand the dangers for Violence, murder and rape in the case of using your real name. If not, I suggest you familiarize yourself with say Witness protection or something along those lines.

How insensitive can you possibly be Google+ ? Really expected so much more from you. In fact i would have been the 1st to say how much I love my Google. All of my accounts and services I use thru them. There are just so many other choices.

re: Google+ Profiles: Just What Gets You Booted?

The main change that Google needs to make is to send a warning first before suspending an account. Do something like, "your account has been flagged as potentially violating terms of service on using proper name in profile, Appeal here in the next two weeks to prevent suspension of account."
That way people don't lose access and have to fight to regain it (potentially losing contacts, information and business in the process).

re: Google+ Profiles: Just What Gets You Booted?

Makes sense, yes. Unless there is something really outrageous going on with that account, what would it hurt to give something like a 5-day warning. They could spare themselves a few public relations flubs in the process.

re: Google+ Profiles: Just What Gets You Booted?

According to a G+ post from last night by Bradley Horowitz, Google is in fact instituting an advance warning on potential violations of the profile naming policy, giving people a chance to appeal BEFORE the account is suspended. Some other changes coming in the next few months.

re: Google+ Profiles: Just What Gets You Booted?

Bradley Horowitz, one of the lead Google execs on G+, posted some updates and clarifications here

Among other things, he said policies and appeals procedures are being clarified. Also emphasized it's NOT true you can lose access to all google services (your Gmail etc) because of the profile name issue. A complete ban like that would require violations of other terms of service.

Caterina Fake (best known as the co-founder of Flickr) has a good post talking about the uses of anonymity and pseudonyms that led me to Horowitz's comments.