The great G+ purge: Google's got some ‘splainin to do

Google's hamfisted attempts to purge fake G+ profiles is blowing up in its face. Update: Google responds.


Don't look now, but there's trouble in Google+ paradise. According to multiple reports, Google+ gave the heave ho to an untold number of accounts this past weekend, claiming they violated the social net's "community standards" by using inappropriate names.

google plus error message

(Image courtesy of Richard Bluestein’s Weblog.)

Worse: Several of those booted are reporting that in addition to being kicked off G+, they also had all their Google account data flushed -- emails, photos, videos, Google docs they had created, articles saved in Google Reader, the whole schmear. 

Google's explanation? We don’t know. They haven’t said anything yet. The few clues we’ve had point to G+’s Content Policy, which states:

To help fight spam and prevent fake profiles, use the name your friends, family or co-workers usually call you. For example, if your full legal name is Charles Jones Jr. but you normally use Chuck Jones or Junior Jones, either of those would be acceptable.

First, let’s give G+ credit for trying to put a leash on fake profiles -- and by extension, scams -- before they get completely out of control. That's something many services conveniently ignored until it was too late (MySpace, I'm talking to you). But the Googlers deserve to be slapped upside the head with a sockful of warm manure for how they've handled this process so far.

[See also: Who’s really tracking your cell phone? ]

First, Google doesn't appear to understand the difference between names and identities. Your name might be Reginald Dwight and all your friends call you ‘Reg’, but your identity is Elton John. What should you use on your G+ account?

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