When Google+ first debuted, it insisted that you use your real name on your profile in an effort to "create a community made of up real people" and reduce the trollish behavior often associated with the anonymous internet. As you might expect, it's suffered some backlash due to this policy, especially for folks who wish to keep their online identities separate from their real ones. Over the years, it's loosened that restriction by allowing folks to use their desired name on their profile pages plus eventually letting YouTube users use their existing usernames. Today, at long last, Google's social network has lifted any and all name restrictions entirely, finally letting you pick whatever name you like. So if you've always shied away from Google's social network because of its insistence on real names, you can now go ahead and sign up with any name of your choosing. Unfortunately, you'll still have to use actual letters or numbers -- those who yearn for emoji usernames might want to take a look at this instead.
Update: While you don't have to use your real name, Google+ still has some requirements when it comes to choosing what name you want. For example, you'll still need a First and Last name, though you can simply add a dot to the Last name field if you want to go by a single nom de plume. There's also a limited number of times you can alter your name -- maybe up to three months between changes -- and pretending to be someone else is a no-no. Additionally, we hear that using naughty names that violate Google's Terms of Service isn't allowed either.
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