Coming Attractions: A Newly Sanitized YouTube

YouTube Cleaning up its ActThe YouTube phenomenon has been one of the biggest success stories of all in cyberspace.

Over the years, YouTube has gone from being a weird corner of the web made up of curious, strange and often forgettable video clips, to a site that attracts millions of viewers every day – some of whom have essentially ditched all other forms of video viewing in favor of mining the vast trove of material YouTube carries on its platform.

In the years since Google acquired YouTube, traffic and usage have exploded, even as the video fare has become more varied (and also more professional).

But there’s one holdover from the early years that continues to bedevil Google: YouTube is a repository of some of the most inflammatory, puerile and downright disgusting commentary that passes for “discourse,” posted by all manner of rabble.

But now, Google is signaling a strategy that has the potential to clean up the crude comments on YouTube – and in a big way.

YouTube is now strongly encouraging users to post their YouTube comments using the name identity associated with their Google+ account.

In fact, if you decline to do so after being prompted, you’ll be asked to state a reason why, underscoring the nudge away from “screen name anonymity” and towards “real-name identity.”

The notion is that people will be less likely to post flaming comments when their “true” web identity is known – that people will exude good behavior in “polite cyber-company,” as it were.

Of course, one needs to possess a Google+ account in order to link his or her identity on YouTube. But that’s for today only; some observers see YouTube’s move as just the first step toward hiding – and eventually eliminating – all comments coming from anonymous accounts.

So the new bargain will be something closer to this: “Open a Google+ account and link your YouTube account to your Google+ account … or else forfeit your ability to post any comments at all on YouTube.”

The likely result will be a much more “sanitized” YouTube – less edgy, but also less red-faced embarrassing. And that’s just what many brands, businesses and advertisers would like to see happen.

Of course, YouTube’s moves may well spur the launch of an alternative site that seeks to preserve the (nearly) anything-goes environment of the YouTube of yore.

Perhaps it could be called “YouCrude,”  But, as it happens, that handle’s already been nabbed — by a fellow WordPress blogger!

One thought on “Coming Attractions: A Newly Sanitized YouTube

  1. The “sanitizing” of youtube is a mixed bag indeed. The motive is the distasteful, and the reduction of vile underbelly is the pop-pop fizz-fizz.

    Everything any of the humungous internet dominators do is for profit, no doubt. Advertising incoming in this case. In almost all cases? This makes the sanitizing idea hypocritical. Let me explain why:

    What may turn out a relief is the ebbing of public purging. We have been on the receiving end of such unmitigated public hate mail ourselves. There seems to be a sense of limitless entitlement, mostly of people who might barely pass a GED, to seek out essentially innocent and factual and at times quite private expression of sentiment, opinion, esteem (high and low) … and then trash it with the most unreflected and needlessly aggressive responses.

    Even subjects around which one might expect some degree of civilized behavior attract that kind of mental and emotional diaper dumping. Example: Classical music. I have seen the most base name-calling in response to posts praising one conductor over another, and at times not even over another. Opinions about singers are an even worse trigger. And the ladder goes down from there.

    While I could stop here and feel sorry for us all, I feel like going one step further … down. The question is why do people feel such a strong need for a relief valve? (This vein of questioning does in no way excuse their behavior.) The answer is in the question: Pressure, an excess of pressure for which many seem to have no tools to deal with in a lasting and non-destructive fashion. Sure, there are things one can do, such as the average amount of alcohol, television, shopping, and other consumer behavior, and most people do that.

    And here, the circle becomes vicious because the “corporate dominators” are the very ones who generate that excess pressure by the very marketing for the sake of which they wish to clean up the advertising tools like YouTube. And that, in short, is why the proposed move, on a corporate level, is hypocritical.

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