With the power of it’s search engine behind it, Google is making it harder to cheat about who you actually are – well in terms of your name anyway – on their new social platform Google+. This is an effort on part to stem the tide of spam accounts.
Google’s user terms of service requires you to use your proper name (or close to it – Bob is ok if your name is William). Last summer Google purged fake accounts where folks used monikers or online identities (like textureweb for me for example). ZDNet reported back then that Google deleted accounts to maintain its policy. At the time, this action by Google brought about the wrath of users, but in the long run it has mostly been seen as beneficial.
Google does this by watching how you search and if you are trying to influence search results. A Google+ profile is tied to your Google account, and Google is banking on users being logged in to Google all the time so that when they do use search, then it can compare the data of the search habits.
Spammers will look to +1 content on a said domain where they are selling their services. If the spammer exclusivly +1′s on one domain, or event heavily +1′s on a domain, then they will be tagged as a spammer or at least one tagged for being suspicouis in activity behavior.
Compare this to the twitter follow/following factor. On twitter if all you do is follow and have no followers, then your account is going to be tagged for spam. That is because spammers only tweet with your @username or tweet to you, but have no interest in having followers, nor do people follow spammers.
Some spam vendors are already selling +1 votes, but look for this to go away soon as people realize the futility of such a service as Google lowers the value of those +1′s.
Time will tell how successful this will be, but with over 90 million users as of the 19th of this month, I will be interested to see.
Update: [January 24th] Just to prove how fast social media can change – I got a notice of this today – this was not the case when I wrote this article Monday night (the 22nd). “Google will allow nicknames, maiden names and pseudonyms if the person can prove to Google that he or she is known by that name elsewhere, in published material or on other social networks.” – The New York Times