October 19, 2011 | By Eva Galperin and Jillian York

Victory! Google Surrenders in the Nymwars

Proponents of pseudonymity scored a major victory today, when Google executive Vic Gundotra revealed at the Web 2.0 Summit that social networking service Google+ will begin supporting pseudonyms and other types of identity.

The news comes after several months of what has been dubbed Nymwars, in which opposing parties have debated--often heatedly--the merits of the Google+ policy requiring users to identify using their "common name."  While EFF recognizes the rights of companies to determine their own policies, we have repeatedly taken the side of users who have argued that the use of a pseudonym grants them greater freedom in expressing themselves online.

According to Mashable, Google+ will be "adding features that will 'support other forms of identity' in the next few months." Mike Swift, who was present at the event, also tweeted: "Google+ will soon support pseudonyms, moving away from strict real name ID policy, says +Vic Gundotra at." Bradley Horowitz, VP for Google's social products, which includes Google+, has also alluded to the possibility that Google will drop its troublesome "common name" policy and offer support for pseudonyms. Though it is not yet clear what those features will look like, we are cautiously optimistic that Google+ will do the right thing to ensure that all of its users feel free to express themselves on the site.


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