The YouTube comment section has long served as an example of how rotten people can become when not held accountable. Cesspools of racism, sexism, homophobia, and complete idiocy have long occupied the YouTube comment sections and have been the source of everything from hilarious, to disturbing comments. So it comes as no surprise that Google, who owns YouTube, would want to clean up the disastrous comment section.
While the regulation of YouTube comments does not come as a surprise, the shock lies in the way that Google has decided to regulate the comments.
The aim of the new comment system was to ensure that there are no more trolls or spam in the comment section, but rather, actual informative conversations. While the idea sounds great in theory, Google has achieved this through integrating Google+ into the site’s commenting functionality. What does this mean? It means that the comment section of YouTube will no longer allow for anonymity and thus, there will be controlled comments.
The new comment section will be displayed via your actual name, due to being connected to your now required Google+ profile. This means that you will need a Google email and a Google+ page just to be eligible to leave a comment. Comments will also be organized via people you know and popularity, with people you know appearing at the top and the popular comments following soon after. There is also a spam sifter, and the ability to turn off replies and comments ratings on their own comments.
In theory, these changes will inspire better conversations and more controlled YouTube viewing. But it also changes the very basic entertainment that the YouTube section offers. Most disturbing to the YouTube fanbase is the aggressive fact that Google is literally forcing people to sign up for a Google+ account, which can be a major pain, before commenting on a video. To the added dismay of the YouTube fanbase is the fact that once your Google+ account is integrated, your comment will show up as from your real name, as well as have your photo next to the comment. This makes trolling and blatant harassing a bit less rewarding.
In response to the changes, a petition on Change.org demanding that Google bring back the old YouTube comments has racked up more than 90,000 signatures. And Reddit’s YouTube community is entirely consumed by the commenting change, with post after post lamenting it as a major misstep by Google. Popular YouTube users have also joined in the battle cry against Google+ comment integration. According to a list compiled by redditors, dozens of users with hundreds of thousands or millions of subscribers have blasted the change or simply turned off commenting altogether.
Do we mock this up to the change that always occurs when heavily used Web products have big changes to their interface? Perhaps once people get used to the change they will come to see the positive side of a civil YouTube comment section. It is unlikely that a giant like Google will change the comments back to the old way, despite the complete backlash.