The comments on YouTube are commonly known to be some of the worst on the Internet – trolls of every kind emerge to say insulting and offensive comments anonymously. In his song “Same Love,” Macklemore mentioned this phenomenon and the homophobia involved by saying “Have you read the YouTube comments lately? / ‘Man, that’s gay’ gets dropped on the daily.”
Google has attempted to solve this problem by attaching every YouTuber’s comments to their Google+ account. The old commenting system has been replaced by one that makes it impossible to maintain anonymity. When a YouTube user comments on a video (the only way one can comment is by having an account), their real name and picture from their Google+ profile shows up with it.
While their intentions were noble, the reaction to this update has been largely negative. This is not surprising – almost any time a popular social media outlet is updated, the change is upsetting to users. Facebook faces this any time modifications are made. But this update may go beyond forcing users to adapt to something new.
Channel owners are complaining that the new system actually hurts their ability to generate revenue through their videos; the capacity to earn money through creating videos is one of the biggest draws for YouTube users. Other websites, such as Politico and TechCrunch, that have attempted to convert their commenting system to one integrated with a social media outlet have seen significant decreases in traffic, and eventually reverted back.
There’s also the issue that the new Google+ commenting system has failed in its prime goal: the same trolls who were thought to have been hiding behind their anonymity are actually fine with saying terrible things with their real identity attached. Trolling on YouTube comments has not significantly decreased. One user’s comment with the n-word used 85 times was published under the current system. Many users have migrated to Reddit to continue making comments on YouTube videos anonymously.
Disgruntled YouTube users are seeing this as a censorship issue. A petition on Change.org reads, “They are also trying to censor us unless we share the same worldview as they do.” Over 110,000 users have signed the petition and made 430,000 complaints on Google’s product forum. Even YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim is voicing his displeasure at the change, saying, “why the f*** do I need a google+ account to comment on a video?” He also deleted all but one of his videos off of his account.
Some see the change as a ploy on Google’s part to entice more people into using Google+. The social media platform is still attempting to compete with Facebook with very little success. Comments made on YouTube will show up on the user’s Google+ account, though Google+ users can change their settings on what is visible on their profile.
The change was mandated only a week ago, so there is still no news on whether or not YouTube will listen to protesting users and change back to the old system. However, it does not look as if a change of heart is on the horizon: Paul Colligan, author of YouTube Strategies: Making and Marketing Online Video, said, “There’s no going back. And there can’t be.”
What do you think of the latest YouTube update? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Rosenblatt, Seth. “Google+ comments integration angering longtime YouTubers.” http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57612285-93/google-comments-integration-angering-longtime-youtubers/. (14 Nov. 2013).
“Macklemore and Ryan Lewis – Same Love Lyrics.” http://rapgenius.com/Macklemore-and-ryan-lewis-same-love-lyrics. (14 Nov. 2013).
Johnson, Daniel. “YouTube co-founder joins protest against comment changes.” http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/10449741/YouTube-co-founder-joins-protest-against-comment-changes.html. (14 Nov. 2013).