The 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!