It is almost inevitable. You are watching a particularly entertaining or engaging YouTube view and you feel really good about the video. You scrolled down to the comments section and lo and behold, not just one but several dozen hater comments. Hater comments? We are talking about racist, sexist and other hateful comments. In addition, throw in the obligatory spam or irrelevant comment and you end up with one great video surrounded by excrement. This is not an uncommon experience on YouTube–users’ otherwise positive experience of awesome content being ruined by plainly ignorant, hateful or irrelevant comments.
According to recent statements by a YouTube exec at Google’s I/O conference, YouTube is aware of this very annoying problem and is on the case. According to Dror Shimshowitz, the company is looking to improve its comments system. He did not give specific time when the comments system changes will go online, but the company is looking into the problem. The problem with YouTube comments, to be blunt, is that there is no accountability. Somebody could just make up a fake profile and just post all sorts of obnoxious garbage. This is a form of digital pollution that really ruins many people’s enjoyment of otherwise stellar video content on YouTube. That is the root cause of the problem and it may turn out that may also be the source of the solution.
The key is the feeling of anonymity which enables many otherwise decent (at least we are hoping) people to troll the comments system. If you take away this anonymity by tying in some parts of a person’s real life identity to their YouTube profile, maybe many of this anonymity issue would go away. This is because if you are going to be posting materials and you know that some of your real life details or persona is going to be reflected in your comment profile, you would be more restrained in what you post. In other words, you would act like a decent normal average human being instead of a hateful and hurtful troll.
There is some indication that this is the direction that Google would take when it comes to YouTube comments because they have moved in this direction with the new users during the early part of this year. Basically by linking your YouTube account to your Google+ account, which is also linked to your E-mail account, there would be some sort of spread of personal accountability. Google has been doing this for new users of YouTube. However, there are many older users that registered in late 2011 and earlier that are currently not affected. The good news is that Google is beginning to update those older accounts as well. How? If you link your existing YouTube account with an older user name to your YouTube Google+ account, the older user name will be deleted and it will be replaced by your real name from Google+. Take that, trolls! While we share much of the blogosphere’s apprehension regarding privacy issues, we definitely applaud Google for this move. Remember, less trolls = better internet.