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Google Announces Plan To Hold YouTube Commenters Accountable

If you’ve ever ventured into the comments on a YouTube video, you’re probably well aware that our beloved video sharing website moonlights as a gathering place for the worst people on the Internet this side of 4chan. Despite a stringent comment policy, Google, YouTube’s owner, has never really gotten around to enforcing their own rules — that is, until now. With a new plan to link YouTube accounts with Google+ accounts, Google hopes that by encouraging commenters to use their own name, users will be less inclined to leave abusive comments.

Although Google has already implemented a Google-wide identity for new users of YouTube, existing users were unable to consolidate their digital identities. Now, Google will encourage all users to link up their existing YouTube accounts with their Google+ accounts: “If you are currently YouTube user joeysam87, you can now appear as Joey Samson, the full name from your Google+ profile (with an actual space in the middle!), along with any photo you uploaded.” When you switch your account over, you’ll be able to review your content, meaning that you have to option to look over “every video, comment or playlist you’ve ever posted, and decide whether you want it associated with your full name before making the change.”

Of course, you’re not actually obligated to relinquish your anonymous identity. If you’d rather keep your identity under wraps, all you’ll have to do is click “I don’t want to use my full name” when you see the prompt.

All things considered, I’m pretty skeptical that this will actually clean up YouTube. It would seem that the people who pride themselves on ruining people’s days and adorable cat videos will just elect to keep their accounts anonymous. Additionally, even if they do link their account to their real name, YouTube will remain one of the Internet’s many cesspools until moderators consistently step in and take action — it’s not enough to discourage people via public shaming, especially when the garbage they happen to be saying is the status quo opinion in their online or real life community (I’m looking at you casual sexism, racism, and homophobia.)

Besides, does anyone even use Google+? I’ll leave it to you all: Will this new gentle nudge towards not being a dick on the Internet actually work?

(via Wired.)

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  • Anders Vesterberg

    eh i would not hold my breath counting on it. some people only use youtube  to troll like crazy and post hate speech like crazy.

  • Jarrah Hodge

    Argh. I agree – it seems like with an opt-out it’s not going to have much of an impact. It’s frustrating because something like this to hold commenters accountable is really desperately needed. But I get why maybe someone would want to remain anonymous for legitimate reasons like personal safety or if you didn’t want to be outed to someone who might search your name on Google. Still, I think YouTube needs to try again with this one – there have got to be other options to make the commenting culture less toxic.

  • Anonymous

    Nobody uses Google+, but just about everybody signed up for it, if only accidentally at some point of signing up for Blogger, the google Toolbar, or any other site or service that they own.  So odds are you do have a Google+ account, and it’s attached to all your stuff already.It won’t change things at all, cause as you said, the folks who will want to remain anonymous will do so.  The other part they might not have considered is that a good number of people have spent a lot of time making their youtube account name into a brand.  While they’re still accessible via the old handle, it disappears on your Channel page once you switch.  So Pamplemoussemusic would change to the name, and OpieRadio (Opie from the Opie and Anthony Show) would come up as Greg Hughes, his real name.  So, not as good a move from that direction.

  • womanistmusings

    This is not going to work if they give people the option to opt out.  What they need to do is spend some money and hire moderators.  That is the only way that youtube will stop being the cesspool of the internet. 

  • Anonymous

    No, it won’t work. See: Blizzard Real ID fiasco. Only this has the added issue of being opt-out. If it weren’t opt-out, it’d just bring on a new level of jerkishness when people can now see (via your name and image) your gender, attractiveness, race, age, and sometimes religion and sexual persuasion too, and now use these things to up the attack ante. Oh, and now they can find you on other social media and figure out where you live and where you work. Does. Not. Work.

    What plans like this DO drive home is that the people who come up with them are usually affluent, middle-aged, straight, white, Protestant men in the tech industry who don’t stop to consider how everyone who doesn’t fall into that lucky group is affected by these sorts of decisions. It never occurs to them that anonymity is a critical tool to people who are not as privileged as they are.

  • Inky

    I work with people that do social media marketing and Google+ is a hot topic right now, so I do know that yes, people ARE using Google+…at least sometimes. That being said, I doubt having people’s full names on their comments will make a difference–people still bully others on Facebook, after all. I definitely agree that the best way to stop the comments would be to have moderators in place.

    Plus, I’m a little leery about how much privacy seems to matter less and less to social media networks these days. I get that they want to protect people, but you don’t walk around in real life with your real name carved into your forehead and a tape recorder catching everything you say. While there are some definitely harsh, cruel people out there, everybody’s blurted out something stupid every now and then. I don’t know if that sort of thing should necessarily have to follow people around forever.

  • Jay, King of Gay

    uh *I* use Google+ as well as tons of other people. There’s 170 million users including celebrities like William Shatner. It’s mostly geeks, photographers and gays, but yes, people, actual people use it. 

  • Psychotronic (Michael F.)

    “A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.”

    – Douglas Adams

  • Amelie Harms

    Besides, does anyone even use Google+? ”

    Thank you very much for telling me that you thinks I’m a nobody for being on Google+ and therefore a good target for kicking. Do you want me to stop follow Mary Sue’s account on G+ too? I know, I got more followers than MS do, and I’m a nobody, so what does that make  Mary Sue?

    Did you know that I found Mary Sue via G+? Yes, you got linked there, and we discussed the article.

    Well, I’ll wait here for a while for a “sorry” and then I will be sorry for being so aggressive, but truly, I can live with other sites being mean, but MS is a place where I’m usually not getting fu’s cause of my gender, choice of pastimes or being a nerd. You know, like prefering G+ instead of the mainstream Facebook.

  • Anonymous

    For the record, I did not mean to imply that only nobodies use G+, only that very few people use it in comparison to most social media sites, as such, the utility of using it as a means to moderate YouTube comments seems very questionable. 

    I sincerely did not mean to hurt your feelings, I was simply being sarcastic at the notion that public shaming via G+ could actually fix the cesspool that is YouTube. 

    And if I did imply that you’re a nobody, I’m a nobody too. Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell! They’d banish us, you know. :)

  • Riley Sticka

    “this side of 4chan.”

    Hey look, it’s a Reddit kiddie that’s only been on /b/ for 2 minutes

    Posted with my real name, by the way.

  • Anonymous

    You’re right, Reddit is no better than 4chan when it comes to hosting the scum of the web. 

  • Anonymous

     It’s okay, no need to waaah. They’ll run Google+ plus for a bit longer, even though you are the only one using it.

  • Anonymous

     Holy overreaction, Hulk.

  • Cathy Mills

    When I heard they were actually going to start doing something to clean up YouTube comments I thought I might actually go back to doing Manga reviews there.  This was their big idea? Yeah I’ll stick with blogging my reviews.  This isn’t going to do anything.  Plus my YT and g+ are on separate emails. *sigh*

  • dallhonat777

    yeah we don’t need that 1st amendment right anyway

  • Tati Mesfin

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
    Their new policy has nothing to do with the 1st Amendment. They are not censoring users or comments, just holding them accountable by linking their name with their YouTube account. People can still say whatever they want (and I don’t think this new policy is going to make a huge difference anyway). Nothing is being made illegal, just more…personable.
    And I don’t know about you, but I am sick of every other comment on a YouTube video being “HAHAHA omg u r sooooooooo GHEY lolol u idiot go die lol u stoopid f*ggg”. It ruins my special cat-video viewing time :P

  • Brian

    I’ve seen way too many racist, misogynistic, incoherent weirdos on sites that use Facebook commenting to think it’ll make a difference.

  • Scylla Kat

    I had to opt out today.  I opt out of such things because I do.  Having lines between different parts of your life is important for people’s mental health.  I’m not sure what causes Internet jerkitude, but I’m not sure it’s anonymity of the POSTER, because the poster always knows who shi is.  The anonymity/distance of the audience, however, seems to me to be very relevant.  I can  be a jerk to this person whom I will never meet and whom I have decided, from their lame video, is a loser who deserves my scorn.  If that person turned out to be the person I was applying for a job from, the cop who was writing me a ticket, or the friend of a respected friend, then I’ve just harmed myself socially.  But hating on someone who has nothing to do with my life?  That’s all downhill.  It’s like having a lousy day and taking it out on the next telemarketer that calls, because, hey, they asked for it having that sucky job.

  • Scylla Kat

    YES.  When I was young and so was the Internet, rousing the wrath of the wizard was how you found out you’d gone too far.  And caring what people thought of me in my communities was what made me try not to be an ass.  The anonymity of You Tube may be the problem, but that anonymity is lack of relationship, not lack of name.

  • Scylla Kat

     On the other paw, when the only way you can speak is with a Megacorps Mouthpiece, then the private companies have essentially taken away your free speech. 

    On the third paw, when you can never get information because the stupidity imbalances the signal-to-noise ratio so badly that you can’t sort through it all, then communication is dead.  We need better ideas than what we’ve got is what I know.

  • Anonymous

    Good thing my Google+ and Youtube were both made with fake names and disposeable email.
    >still not anonymous

  • Invisible_Jester89

    Pfft. I can’t stand Google+. It’s a transparent attempt to limit privacy online to me. And I actually use my privacy responsibly. As a Youtuber myself, I can tell you I will NOT be opting into this little “perk”.

  • Invisible_Jester89

    I appreciate the option to leave your anonymity intact. I don’t wanna be seen by my real name for personal safety reasons.

  • Invisible_Jester89

    Ignore Chief Moron down there. He be trollin’.

    Some people do use it. But a lot of people really don’t. Not anything against you or any other Google+ user, but it’s nowhere near as popular as stuff like Facebook and Twitter are. Don’t be surprised if Google+ ends up getting shut down because not enough of the internet uses it, and they’re all on a different site instead.

  • Invisible_Jester89

    I wouldn’t say Youtube itself is THE cesspool of the Internet, but it’s certainly A cesspool. Or at least it has an awful lot of creeps trying to pollute the waters.

  • Invisible_Jester89

    Let’s put it this way – just about every young teenager online nowadays goes through the “Camera Ho” (sorry for using that word) phase. They put images and video of themselves online, they say and do stupid things. The nice thing about anonymity is you can slip off an online name if you have to and adopt a new one; start over. Do you really want things from when you were 17 following you around when you’re 20? That is why the trend of having less and less anonymity online scares me, and why I won’t use Facebook or give Google+ my actual name. The internet doesn’t need to know that.

  • Invisible_Jester89

    Eventually trolls ruin everything good, and what they don’t ruin, stupidity does.

  • Invisible_Jester89

    Same. I only give close friends my personal email.

  • Krystal

    I know it was horribly unpopular but I liked the thing that read your comment aloud to you before posting it. Sometimes I find myself having to read a reply out loud to myself to judge whether or not it really carries the tone and message that I want. I personally think that if more people did that, they might find themselves thinking “wow, that sounds like a crappy thing to say” and then writing less crap (of course this doesn’t apply to the plethora of trolls out there, but the decent folk- maybe). 

    One can always dream, anyway.

  • Anonymous

    My local paper tried that with FB and the comment section, the comments didn’t change, some even got nastier.