This time last week, Google announced changes to its YouTube comments section that would promote high quality comments and push racist/homophobic/sexist/violent rants to the bottom. The land of YouTube rejoiced, until it was revealed that the changes would come with the help of Google+.
This is good, Google said.
Now people have to be honest about their identities, Google said.
Surely our beloved Google only wants the best for us, right? Any increased use of Google+ following the implementation of this new system must be purely coincidental?
YouTube users are crying foul. They don’t want no stinkin’ Google+ making their voices heard. Currently a petition is circulating around the Internet to change the YouTube comments section back to what it used to be.
It currently has 113,000 signatures.
The goal is 150,000.
YouTube has more than one billion monthly visitors.
If the petition gets double the signatures it hopes to get, that’s still less than one percent of YouTube monthly visitors who voiced their anger.
ZDNet reported that some power users and vloggers on YouTube are asking viewers to visit their websites or go to Reddit to comment – places where they can comment as personas. Most users are outraged because they now have to comment as their real identities, ripping away any shred of privacy they had.
Furthermore, the filter and algorithm doesn’t have all of its kinks worked out. It highlights power commenters and Google+ users regardless of the quality of the particular post. The theory behind this was that someone like Kathy Griffin could comment on an Anderson Cooper video and shoot to the top, while a troll posting from his mom’s basement went to the bottom. Instead, Google is promoting the level 95 trolls, the experts who have been trolling on YouTube, Google+ and other sites since the dawn of the Internet.
Personally, I think YouTube comments should be put in the hands of the users – Reddit style. Let people up and down vote comments to decide what makes it to the top. It wouldn’t be the first time one social network copied off of another. Plus, Facebook is criticized regularly for its algorithm; people want to see everything in a live stream like they do on Tumblr and Twitter. Trying to implement a complex algorithm won’t increase the dire popularity of YouTube comments.
My favorite part in all of this comes from an article by USAToday. Jawed Karim, co-founder of YouTube and the guy who posted the very first video on there, posted the following comment on his account: “Why the [bleep] do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?”
Users see this integration as a cheap ploy to convert YouTube fans into Google+ users. They’re taking a beloved American pastime (who hasn’t spent an afternoon watching cat videos with friends?) and pairing it with the Internet equivalent of going to the dentist.
Isn’t this all kind of a blast from the (very recent) past? Do you remember back in August when SEOs and bloggers we’re claiming that more +1s resulted in higher rankings? Bloggers who signed up for Google+ for authorship benefits were clamoring to share their articles and increase engagement on the network – for the brief 24 hours before it was disproved.
Google is desperate to make Google+ cool and is using everything in its arsenal to get people to use it. If we all just accept that Google+ is the answer and it knows best, will our lives be better? Or are we just starting to believe what our captors tell us?