Google+ is set to finally allow users to create accounts using pseudonyms, although the company will still require users to prove their identity behind their pseudonym.
Google's move is a response to complaints from the Electronic Frontier Foundation and others, who said pseudonyms are necessary to ensure freedom of expression for people in danger of retribution for speaking out on controversial topics.
Over the next week, Google will be adding support for alternate names - be they nicknames, maiden names, or names in another script - alongside users' common name. This name will show up on users' Google+ profile and in the hovercards which appear over their name. In the next few weeks, Google will be displaying it more broadly as part of users' names in other areas of Google+ as well.
When a user changes his or her name in Google+, this will change across all services that require a Google Profile.
On Google+, Google is trying to flag names which don?t represent individuals, such as businesses or abstract ideas which should be +Pages. In case Google flag the name someone intends to use, the user should provide Google with information to help confirm his or her established identity. This might include "references to an established identity offline in print media, news articles, etc"; a scanned official documentation, such as a driver?s license or "a proof of an established identity online with a meaningful following," according to Bradley Horowitz, Google Product Vice President.
"We'll review the information and typically get back to you within a few days. We may also ask for further information, such as proof that you control a website you reference. While a name change is under review, your old name will continue to be displayed. For new accounts without an old name, your profile will be in a non-public, read-only state during the review. Either way, you'll be able to see the status of your review by going to your profile," Horowitz added.