Ignoring the depths of Reddit and 4chan, YouTube comments are perhaps the cesspool of the Internet. Below every Rickroll, Khan Academy tutorial and flashmob wedding proposal lie a string of inane word vomit. Contrived combinations of letters and numbers, racial slurs and misinformation are common fare. To put it simply, you don’t scroll through YouTube comments expecting intelligent discourse among Internet peers.
Google, YouTube’s parent company, announced recently that Google+ accounts will be required in order to comment on videos.
Of course, this is probably a ploy to get people to actually use the ghost town that is Google+, but it has the secondary effect of forcing commenters to identify themselves. Under conditions of anonymity, Internet trolls had infiltrated the fabric of YouTube society, poking fun and inciting controversy wherever it was most unwelcome. These folks made YouTube a hostile environment and encouraged users to never scroll down or face the consequences.
Borrowing from the immense wisdom of “Mean Girls,” if you were to ask a random group of people “How many of you have ever felt personally victimized by Internet commenters?” more than a few hands would shoot up.
This new policy is a boon for anyone who prefers not to lose brain cells reading Internet comments. From now on, the mean-spirited few will have a harder time ruining the fun for the rest of us. Google’s decision is the first of many required to tame and civilize the Wild West that is the Internet, where anything goes and users abandon societal standards.
And it’s not just a method of verification; the new comment system has legitimate improvements. Comments will be prioritized based on whether the commenter is in one of your Google+ circles, a celebrity or the original poster. You will now be able to sort based on “Top Comments” or “Newest first.”
It is an optimized system, not just a more civilized one.
But, as with any change, there are a number of people up in arms that Google is forcing them to disclose their identity and jump through hoops just to comment on a video. There is even an online petition with nearly 90,000 signatures protesting the new comment policy.
My view on these roughly 90,000 people: They’re probably the ones who tell you how to lose 20 pounds in 30 days.
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