Friday, June 01, 2012

Google+ local launches but drops anonymity

In a revamp of its Google places and reviews facility the search giant has launched Google+ Local. The portal aims to bring a clean a simple presentation of information relating to restaurants and other venues along with user reviews.

The display of information is certainly much better than before with a similar layout to the familiar Google+ page. However many regular reviewers will undoubtedly feel somewhat aggrieved that they now have to use their real name to submit future reviews or pictures.

End to anonymity

There is no clear explanation why Google has forced users to accept a real name policy, though it may put an end to online abuse of the review system. Previously anyone with a Google account could submit a review and upload pictures, but retain their anonymity. They would merely be referred to as a Google user.

But there have been instances where people have used the system to direct abuse at a business or individual. Sarah Duncan, who famously abused a man who had filmed her illegally parked car which was blocking traffic in Bath, quickly found herself being victimised.

Abuse of system

After video of the incident was uploaded to YouTube and widely reported in the British press hundreds of individuals posted reviews on Google Maps defaming her and criticising her overzealous behaviour.

Even a picture of the offending car was uploaded to the site instead of her fashion shop, which is believed to have since closed. The description and photo still remain online though it is possible that this and other defamatory reviews will be deleted as Google takes a more serious approach to its information service.

The inability to remain anonymous may however put some people off for fear of retribution should they make negative comments about a particular business. For now, those who have previously uploaded photographs or reviews can feel safe that their identity is secure unless they agree to migrate the provided information to their new real name account. [Blumenthals blog / Matthew blogGoogle]

tvnewswatch, London, UK

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