Google has reversed its long-standing policy of demanding users use their real names on the company’s social network Google+.
On a blog post written on the site, the Google+ team said that the original intention had been to “create a community made up of real people” but that the decision had “also excluded a number of people who wanted to be part of it without using their real names.”
Although the use of real names did not have much of an effect in the early days of the social network, users began to complain loudly about the policy when Google starting forcing YouTube commenters to sign up for an account.
Google boss Eric Schmidt later said that Google+ was primarily an identity service for the company’s many online services and that users could always go elsewhere.
The new policy marks something of a sea change for Google+, with the social network’s head Vic Gundotra leaving unexpectedly in April and many former Google+ employees moved to other parts of the company.
“We know that our names policy has been unclear, and this has led to some unnecessarily difficult experiences for some of our users,” said the company. “For this we apologize, and we hope that today's change is a step toward making Google+ the welcoming and inclusive place that we want it to be.”