In case you haven't been following recent developments with the much-hyped Google+ (hailed by social media mavens as in position to replace both Facebook and Twitter), you may not have heard the news (e.g., in the linked ZDnet article by Violet Blue) that Google unceremoniously deleted "[a] striking number of Google+ accounts", many apparently owing to the requirement that people with Google+ accounts must be registered under their "real names".
A follow-up from Violet Blue notes that the real-name policy is not being enforced uniformly (e.g., Lady Gaga's profile is still intact), and that the disabling of accounts that seems to have started July 22 or so was notable in that there were no notifications sent to users ahead of time that their accounts would be disabled (or why). Moreover, there seem to be at least a few cases where people deemed out of compliance with the real-name policy loss access not only to Google+ but also to other Google products like Gmail and Google Docs.
There are plenty of posts kicking around the blogosphere in response to this, pointing out legitimate reasons people might have for not using their "real name" online. (In the past, I wrote such a post myself.) You should definitely read what SciCurious has to say on the matter, since she explains it very persuasively.
There are those who argue that a real-name policy is the only effective deterrent to bad online behavior, but I have yet to see convincing evidence that this is so. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better citizen of the blogosphere than SciCurious, and "SciCurious" is not the name on her birth certificate or driver's license. However, I'd argue that "SciCurious" is her real name in the blogosphere, given that it is connected to a vast catalog of blog posts, comments, interviews, and other traces that convey a reliable picture of the kind of person she is. Meanwhile, there are people using their legal names online who feel free to encourage violence against others. Is it more civil because they're not using pseudonyms to applaud car-bombs?
Google, being a private company, is of course free to set its own terms of service (although enforcing them consistently would be preferable). That means it can set the rules to require people who want the service to sign up using their legal names. However, unless they are going to require that you submit documentation to verify that the name you are using is your legal name (as, apparently they have from some folks trying to get their Google+ accounts back) it strikes me that the safest default assumption is that everyone is signing up with an assumed name. How do you know that Paul Butterfield is Paul Butterfield if he's not scanning his passport for you, or that Janet D. Stemwedel isn't a totally made-up name?
The truth is, you don't.
And if Google wants to get so far into its users' business that they do know who we all officially are, that's going to be enough of an overreach that a bunch of people drift off to Yahoo or Hotmail or some other company that isn't quite so desperate for a total information dossier.
All of this is disappointing, since Google+ looks like it might be a spiffy little product. But if it can't get out of beta without Google burning through the good reputation it had with netizens, pseudonymous or not, who were most likely to embrace it, Google+ may have all the success and longevity of Google Buzz and Google Wave.