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    Saturday, November 9, 2013

    YouTube Faces Backlash for Google+ Integration

    YouTube commenters are not known for keeping their opinions to themselves. Angry users of the Google-owned video site are revolting online against YouTube's new commenting system, which requires everyone to connect their current account to a Google+ account in order to leave a comment on a video. The system was announced in September and fully rolled out on Tuesday.
    More than 30,000 people have left comments on the original YouTube blog post announcing the switch. Most are angry complaints and, in classic YouTube form, include obscenities, fights and ASCII drawings of phalluses.
    There are also multiple Change.org petitions asking YouTube to revert to the old commenting system. The most popular petition has more than 50,000 supporters and it was the most active petition on the Change.org site Friday.

    "Comments were the No. 1 reason why I checked my YouTube account daily. Now that desire is gone," says the top comment on the petition, left by someone calling themselves James Gandolfini.
    The biggest issue with the change is that Google+ encourages people to use their real names, and some YouTube commenters prefer being anonymous.

    "Making it incredibly difficult to have a username other than my actual name, and being forced to display it to the world is also a huge problem I have with this new setup," said Dustin Wilson on another Change.org petition on the subject.
    There are a dozen petitions on the topic. Another, called "YouTube and Google, Bring Back the Old Comment-Style System and Stop Forcing Google+ on Those That Don't Want It," has more than 16,000 signatures. There's even one petition asking YouTube to keep the changes, but only 10 people have supported it so far.

    Intriguingly, Change.org says the biggest source of traffic for these petitions is Google+.
    Anonymous commenters aren't the only people who are upset. The co-founder of YouTube, Jawed Karim has even chimed in after eight years of silence on the site just to comment on the change.
    "why the f*** do i need a google+ account to comment on a video?" he said in a comment on his channel. Karim uploaded the very first video to YouTube in 2005, a clip of himself at the zoo, and hasn't posted there again until now.

    The move to the new commenting system is part of the ongoing push by Google to make Google+ the underlying identity platform for all its products. But the overhauled system is also an attempt to pull the notoriously rough and troll-filled YouTube comments out of the gutter.
    In the new system, content creators will have more control when it comes to monitoring the comments on their videos. They can block certain users and make a list of banned words. There are threaded conversations and Google+ will filter and order comments so people see content relevant to their friend groups and interests. In theory, negative comments will be pushed to the bottom of threads and quality conversations will surface at the top.

    The biggest complaint commenters have is that Google+ strips them of anonymity. When the identity platform first rolled out, Google+ required people to use their real names, but it has since loosened those rules.
    When YouTube announced the Google+ integration, YouTube product manager Nundu Janakiram said users would never be forced to use their real names. When people link their accounts, they can choose to display their nickname or channel name instead of their full name.
    The people fighting against Google+ accounts seem to be the minority. Eighty percent of YouTube commenters had already connected to a Google+ account before the update took effect. There are no exact numbers on how many active YouTube commenters there are, but millions of comments are left throughout the site daily.

    Many people just don't like it when their favorite products change. Online backlash is common with any major update or redesign on a tech site. When YouTube rolled out a new channel design earlier this year, a Change.org petition asking the site to revert back to the original design got more than 30,000 supporters.
    "We are utterly horrified at the new layout and I truly hope YouTube will hear the cries of the loyal users," read the petition. YouTube kept the new design and it seems to have been largely forgotten about.

    Sometimes online outrage can push a company to change. Twitter added an abuse button and Verizon rolled back online payment fees after online feedback and petitions. Games are a particularly popular target for online petitions, with users asking for and frequently getting changes to their favorite games or systems.
    YouTube has delt with these types of mini-uprisingings before. YouTube is the fourth most petitioned company on Change.org, after Facebook, Walmart and Apple. In this case, the company, which is used to angry commenters, seems unlikely to revert to the old system.
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