Individuals signing up to the Google+ social network who wish to identify themselves with a nickname will be able to do so in the future.

Since the site was launched last summer, Google has maintained a policy that people must use their real name when using the service, but this is set to be relaxed in the coming weeks.

Vice-president of product at the firm Bradley Horowitz stated on his own Google+ page that, having listened to feedback from the community, the site will be adding support for people to use alternative names.

He noted that of the users who submit appeals to Google+ asking to use a different identifier, 60 per cent are looking to add a nickname, while 20 per cent would prefer to use a pseudonym or other unconventional moniker.

Mr Horowitz said: "We're pleased to be launching features that will address and remedy the majority of these issues."

He added while the development team's work is not done, this will be an important milestone.

Meanwhile, Google's plans to merge personal data from users across its range of sites – including YouTube, Gmail and Google+ – have attracted criticism from privacy campaigners this week.

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