Lifehacker is reporting that Google has announced they will no longer be requiring that Google+ users sign in with their real names. The ‘real name’ policy has evolved since Google+ launched three years ago—they’ve let people bring in their YouTube user names, for instance—but many critics have pointed out that there are perfectly non-sinister reasons why one might not want to use their ‘real name’ online, ranging from privacy concerns to a desire to separate their work identity from their personal one.
I never got into Google+ as a thing, primarily because I could not figure out what it added to my online life that I didn’t have already. But as someone with a fairly unique last name, I admit the real names policy made me all the more reluctant to sign up. I have even contemplated changing my name when the Beloved and I get married, just so I could have a clean slate online from anyone who did manage to get me to spill my complete legal name. I applaud Google’s backtracking on their ‘real names’ policy. But I still don’t understand what Google+ does, so I probably won’t sign up.