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Google+ Not Sure How To Handle Traditional Aboriginal Names

One of the more striking local examples of how Google’s real-name only policy with compulsory first names and surnames can seem overly restrictive is when applied to traditional Australian Aboriginal culture, where an individual’s personal name is a single word. Google’s response? It might get fixed eventually but it doesn’t want to talk about it until then.

Google’s officially stated policy on names for use in Google+ is fairly inflexible:

Use your full first and last name in a single language.

As we mentioned yesterday, one example where this doesn’t work is with traditional Aboriginal skin naming systems. I was curious about whether those issues would factor into Google’s long-term planning for the service, so I asked Google Australia. This was the response I got from their spokesperson:

I don’t have a specific comment for your enquiry about traditional indigenous names – but I would say that we’re in field trial mode, and taking on feedback and making changes during this time – for instance, on making one’s gender public or private.

I realise that many Aboriginal Australians who identify through the skin name system might not want to access Google+ (and, as one commenter pointed out yesterday, some who do are happy to have an “alternate” Western name form as well). However, it still seems somewhat limited to demand that identification be made in a Euro-centric way. Here’s hoping that gets changed as Google+ evolves.


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