The video site is notorious for users who down-vote videos en masse or post vicious replies, so YouTube is taking action to provide higher-quality comments and conversations.
YouTube declares that it’s making comments better by integrating Google+. It will prioritize comments from recognizable profiles, like the video creator or friends. Posted comments can be shared privately or in users’ Google+ circles, and additional moderating tools will give video creators the ability to block phrases or auto-approve comments.
“The grand idea is to try and turn these one-off comments into conversations that you really care about,” said Matt McLernon, a spokesperson for YouTube.
But There’s Another Agenda Here
While this seems like an effort by YouTube to improve the user experience, it is also a thinly veiled attempt by Google to bring Google+ services to the mainstream. Google has already integrated its social network in most of its products with the hopes of increasing engagement, provoking annoyance among some users. YouTube will be one of Google’s largest platforms to force its users to sign up for a Google+ account.
Google+ may be the web’s second-largest social network behind Facebook, but that could be due to the fact that almost everyone with a Gmail account has a Google+ account, too. Whether they’re using them or not is another story.
YouTube users who don’t already have a Google+ account will have to sign up for one using a Gmail address in order to participate in page discussions and, eventually, to comment on videos.
YouTube said that users can register with either a Google+ profile or page so they can still use anonymous usernames.
“On the Google+ side, you enter as much information as you like,” McLernon said. “On the YouTube side you can use a Plus page, so if you want to be awesomeperson5000, you can do that.”
YouTube claims that the majority of YouTube commenters are already Google+ users, so many people might not even notice a difference. But with over one billion monthly unique users, there is bound to be a significant amount of people that registered with alternative email addresses.
The company is risking a user revolt by mandating all commenters be Google+ users, as many people are already unhappy that the service is being forced on them. YouTube will begin rolling out the changes on channel pages today, with the exclusive Google+ commenting and linking system due globally later this year.