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?