YouTube is trying to exert some control over the vileness of its Comments section by pushing users into having their real names be used when they post comments.
Hopefully the move by YouTube could result in other sites employing the same tactic. Taking the anonymity out of commenting might result in the comments sections on popular sites looking less like a foul, degenerate KKK rally.
As a writer on Time.com put it, “Most of the time reading comments on the Internet is like attending a slightly dysfunctional family dinner, full of passionately argued, half-baked political theories and tasteless jokes,” writes Keith Wagstaff. “Wandering into a YouTube comments section, however, can be like walking into a dive bar bathroom, walls and mirrors covered in graffiti as profane as it is pointless.”
Dror Shimshowitz, a head of product at YouTube, alluded to the coming change at Google I/O, a conference for web developers. When an audience member asked him what he could do about the terrible comments on his YouTube channel, according to Wired he responded, “We’re working on some improvements to the comment system, so hopefully we’ll have an update on that in the next few months.”
The change, which went into effect on June 29, now tries to encourage users to “Start using your full name on YouTube” and signs them in using their Google+ account. Users can refuse to use their Google+ account, but then, “like some kind of Internet degenerate,” Wagstaff writes, users have to explain why they don’t want to use their full name.
“Most of the reasons provided involve the user being a business or product, although you can choose the mysterious ‘My channel is for personal use, but I cannot use my real name,’ useful if you are cruising YouTube as a member of the witness protection program,” Wagstaff writes. “It would have been more honest if YouTube had included, ‘I’m a jerk and would like to troll comment sections anonymously,’ but sadly that’s not an option. Still, it’s important to remember that not everyone on the site is a bored troll looking to mock watchers of Justin Bieber videos.”
For more important anonymity needs, YouTube now has a face-blurring tool, useful for protestors trying to protect themselves from government officials seeking vengeance.