These days it’s pretty hard to find a YouTube video not littered with angry or offensive comments ranging anywhere from racist to homophobic to just plain cruel.
Comments have been getting so harsh lately that the site is fighting back with a new “real name” option, hoping to cut down on the scathing comments.
On June 29th—coincidentally the same day Twitter dumped LinkedIn, which I previously blogged about—YouTube started allowing users to use their real name or their Google+ profile instead of their username when commenting on or uploading videos.
When I went to go test it out, I was met with a pop-up displaying my username as well as an example of what it would look like using my Google+ name instead.
Just to see what would happen, I stuck to my YouTube username and was then confronted with a second pop-up asking me “why not” actually asking me to explain myself like some sort of internet criminal.
So the new feature seems forceful but this might be just what YouTube needs to get rid of the myriad of Internet trolls littering the site with profanity. Users will most certainly think twice before commenting if they have to give up their anonymity.
On the other hand there are many legitimate reasons why someone would not want to share their full name on the internet.
The company acknowledged this fact in a post on the YouTube blog saying “we realize that using your full name isn’t for everyone. Maybe people know you by your YouTube username. Perhaps you don’t want your name publicly associated with your channel” and went on to say that use of the new feature isn’t required.
Further down the line if the feature does become a requirement, however, what’s to say someone hell bent on posting abuse to Youtube can’t just make up a realistic-sounding fake name? But I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
Lastly, a la Facebook, a picture and full name probably will not stop people from having differing opinions and sharing them on the internet. I’ve seen plenty of full-fledged Facebook arguments and, despite the lack of anonymity, they aren’t pretty.
There is also buzz that this was a move to help the struggling Google+ gain users.
Regardless of motive, this is definitely a step in the right direction for the YouTube comment system, hopefully cleaning up the site a little without infringing on users’ first amendment rights.