I have to say that I am very, very disturbed by Google last set of actions seemingly suspending people’s Google+ accounts and in some cases all related accounts (Gmail, Docs, etc) because the name the person used doesn’t appear “real”. Now I understand the want to have people use their real names on their accounts since I am all for accountability on the web but this crosses the line. There are reports spreading around the internet like wildfire of people reporting their accounts have been suspended and conversely they now do not have access to critical services like Gmail. I understand Google’s goal with this purge, but this is as draconian as it gets.
With Google+ still in its infancy, I am amazed that Google would risk such as backlash against itself and the fledgling social network. Google is growing up a lot lately, trying to standardize and reduce the number of services that they have that don’t add to the bottom line or push their agenda forward in some way. As a fan of the company from way back I can’t say that I completely like it but I understand that as a business they have to do what is needed to make money and provide value for their shareholders. With that said, Google could have handled this MUCH better than they did. First off, they could have clearly communicated what they wanted to achieve by having people use their real names. They then should have gave at least two weeks’ notice of what the policy would be moving forward to let people either come into compliance or suffer the consequences. They are apparently giving people these vague messages about violating their TOS but not really saying which part. The biggest thing they should have done before suspending the accounts on Google+ is make absolutely sure it did not affect any of the other services that were tied to that account (folks are reporting they can’t access any of their Google accounts not just Google +). If they had taken the time to do this part, they could have avoided a large part of this backlash. You prevent me from accessing the latest cool social network, well that is kind of a bummer. You prevent me from accessing Gmail that just happens to have that important report for work or school and now I’m pissed.
Ultimately, this kind of thing needs to be done but who determines when a name is real or not, especially if you don’t give someone a chance to prove the validity of the name before you suspend the account. The fact of the matter is that some people just have odd sounding names that if you didn’t know them you would think they were fake, it happens. The thing that is really getting folks burned up though is how random it all seems, a real person gets suspended but there are still like 50 Coca Cola accounts hanging around.
Bottom line is Google needs to get it together and do something to rectify this, because alienating the very people that come out in mass to support your cool new thing isn’t the way to go. It seems Google may be more like Facebook than I thought. Hmm…