Google Looks To Prevent Anonymous Reviews
November 27, 2012

Google Play Requires Google+ Account To Post Reviews

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

A decade ago, Sony Pictures found itself in a major flap when it posted movie reviews by a film critic who was just made up by the studio. Today, however, online reviews that can be posted anonymously have created other problems — often resulting in flame wars, trolls and a general lack of decorum.

Google, with its motto of “do no evil,” is looking to solve some of the problem — but by some accounts could be opening up a Pandora´s box as it looks to require those who wish to leave app reviews in the Google Play web store to use their Google+ accounts, which greatly reduces any anonymity.

On the one hand, this move is seen as a way to reduce web trolls, but it could also solve a common complaint from app makers, namely that many negative or disparaging reviews — those that were left anonymously — were in fact coming from competitors rather than actual reviewers.

To solve both problems, Google is integrating its Google+ social platform into the Play store and is now requiring users to log in to a Google+ account in order to leave feedback on Android apps. When attempting to leave a comment on an app in Google Play, users will review a warning:

“Reviews you write will be posted publicly using your Google+ name and picture. Your name on previous reviews will appear as ℠A Google User,´” as reported by Mobile Burn.

The company hasn´t in fact given an official reason for this change, but it is widely believed to be a way to combat spam, unhelpful and, of course, vindictive reviews. Previously, Google+ had required members to use their full legal names online, which had removed the so-called cloak of anonymity. This hasn´t entirely prevented Google+ members from continuing to be disrespectful or even from creating additional accounts that are not tied to their identity.

But despite this, Google is looking to actually reward those who use their real names. Google´s Android, which is the most commonly used smartphone device at present, already required users to have a Google Account to download apps from its store. This had not previously involved setting up a Google+ profile, but this is just the latest move to create a seamless synergy, while offering benefits to the users.

“Google Play, YouTube and many other products the company offers are similarly enhanced when the user is ℠known,´” said Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Research. “Signing in to a service enables providers to offer a more feature-rich experience that is tailored to each user.”

This move is one that Google is implementing across its services.

“This is an important unification effort for Google, but there are also benefits for Google users, mostly in convenience,” Billy Pidgeon, senior analyst at Inside Network told RedOrbit. “A real-name policy is advocated by government, industry and some consumer groups, and implementation is proliferating primarily through online businesses such as Facebook and Amazon.”

Benefits to businesses are obvious, Pidgeon added.

“For instance, more accurate user data provides higher quality leads for targeted marketing, but benefits to users are more oblique,” he stressed. “Certified real-name users could be rewarded on the basis of reputation to a greater extent than anonymous users as an incentive for more transparent identity.”