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.