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If Dante was writing his Divine Comedy today, he would have added another layer of Hell to his masterpiece and it would have been called “The YouTube Comments”. Yes, if you want to see how low human nature can sink to, you only have to participate in, or just read, the comments section on a YouTube video. Some of the language there is enough to make a sailor on shore leave blush.

But YouTube is now fighting back by forcing anonymous commenters to use their real names for commenting. This way, they are obviously hoping that by being outed in public, the trolls will self-moderate their language and become sweet talking Catholic choirboys. Or something like that.

When you now comment on a video, or upload a video, Google will ask you to start using your real name, tied to a Google Plus account. If you refuse, and click “I don’t want to use my full name“, you have to supply a valid reason why. Saying your life’s ambition is to become an anonymous troll isn’t one of the valid reasons unsurprisingly.

This is an overhaul to YouTube which is long overdue. Pretty soon we might actually be able to have a civilized conversation on YouTube with witty banter and calm debate, without anyone being accused of having sexual relations with their mother. Imagine that!

News Source: Wired

  1. Joseph Authenticity
    January 19, 2017 at 3:47 am

    Yeah, everyone totally uses their real names on YouTube now!
    What an embarrassing article.
    No one has to supply any "valid reasons" for not wanting to dox themselves.

  2. GNU/Linux
    November 26, 2016 at 7:56 am

    "I'd rather live with sock puppets!" -RMS

  3. SickBoy
    July 31, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    I like YouTube comment section as it is because it's the last BIG bastion of free speech on the net (along with Reddit, perhaps). It's a great school for everybody to learn to tolerate different opinions no matter how horrible they can get.

    Besides, a great way of soft regulation is already in place - you can just downvote what you dislike into obscurity.

    Just leave YouTube alone. If you like fascism, stick to Facebook.

  4. jeff cooper
    November 25, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    I like my user name and have no interest in changing it to my name. It's not that I don't want people to know, since I have a link to my Facebook and Myspace pages. Will it stop the bad bad bad. Maybe some but if PUBLIC facebook comments are any indication, Not much. I have seen many comments from people who have real names and it doesn't make a difference to them. Plus people can just cancel and start up another page with a different email using a fake name.

  5. sally
    November 8, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    how could anyone support this? The point of anonymity is protection. I don't want a bunch of strangers to know who I am. And no matter what, people are going to be offended by someone else's opinion. But that person should still be able to state their opinion without the fear of backlash. If someone insults you on youtube, have a retort or don't engage with them. That's what true dialogue is, and who are you to decide what a civilized conversation consists of? This world really is turning into 1984. Big brother is everywhere, slowly stealing our right to self expression by claiming that everything is offensive. Well, so what if it offends you? It's my brain, these are my words, and I have the right to speak them without fear.

  6. HellfireofHades
    November 7, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    I would like to arrange and eloquent and coherent argument but I dont really feel like its necessary for this one.

    If you dont understand that these measures will have a much greater negative impact than positive, then you;

    a. Havent thought it through properly
    b. Have a poor understanding of history and politics
    c. Consider your cultural sensibilities to be more important than freedom
    d. Are damn near clinical retardation and should be restrained for yours and others safety.
    e. All of the above

    • Anton F
      August 11, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      I love it! You rock!

  7. Dave
    November 4, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    I know a lot of forums where the full names are easily to be found - or you can, if not, still write mails to all persons inside the forum. I assure you, the niveau of the forums has nothing to do with the fact if you know a name.
    What I find troublesome in youtube is not that they can't live with nicknames like millions of forums can, but that this "spam" function can so easily be used wrong. I just read comments to some video where US-citizens (you could argue here where I would know that from, and you had a good point^^) said Obama was a nightmare because he wants all US-citizens being able to get good health care after decades without. Now there was one person simply writing "Obama is not that bad" - and he got a massive amount of spam - flags, negative marks (this "up" and "down" must be the replacement of serious discussions nowadays). Nobody is there to decide if the man really was a spammer. Simply having a - in this case slightly - different opinion, and his rather short spam-free message is regarded as spam/too negative.
    This behaviour would not change in the least if we'd used our "real names".

    I get a ton of spam mails though since I use google/youtube. And yes, I do not like it.

    And to the Dante-example - there are countless great authors who liked to write under a pseudonym. Even those who were proud to tell their real names sometimes, and why not, used pseudonyms - like Hermann Hesse.

    It is a nice thing in the internet-world that all can decide if they like to use real names or's free to decide. The ugly niveau comes more from the problem that we do not see each other, we don't sit in the same room or one in Canada before a camera and the other in Sweden. Names would not change the troll-behaviour.

    Apart from that nobody would in the least admit that it will be easier to sell even more addresses in an easier way for google, they fell behind facebook it seems :). Of course that must be a conspiracy theory :-)), they are only there to make us happy, is it :-))? All the best to you, and freedom to decide for us all. Sometimes I even answer people at youtube who write heartbreakingly bloody nonsense. Certainly talking, real talking, helps more than "real names". At least that's what I think...
    All the best to you, and personally I'll

  8. AngelicDirt/ Jennifer Alicia Chase
    November 4, 2012 at 5:37 am

    No. I just. want. to comment. a video. I like my name the way it is. This is stupid and pointless. Even if I people put their real names up, assholes are still assholes to someone.

    And to prove it... *points at name*

  9. DerpDerp
    November 2, 2012 at 9:51 am

    Worked on Facebook..... By the way, I'm WarBoss GorGutz LMAO Obviously my real name.

    Lame, and stupid.

    Good luck getting real channel too, don't know if they noticed... But usage of YT has dropped like a zillion points since 2008.

    A dying company that only survives due to lack of competition.

  10. Failtacular
    October 14, 2012 at 4:21 am

    Problem? Yes. This won't work. Trolls will make fake accounts.

  11. JJ
    September 13, 2012 at 9:30 am

    Can they not just give me an option to DISABLE comment viewing and writing first? There are far too many people who would settle for this option given a troll attack or two. People will mute anyways given their real names, people are starting to get paranoid - it would be more profitable to let the stupid keep talking. like if you're reading in 2012... grr

  12. ConsumerEqualizer
    July 26, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    And what I DON'T like about this, is all the current and prospective employers in your life will now start trolling online to get into your personal business and fire you for it.

    This is a HUGE chilling attack on free speech. Not sure how these sites will try to start validating identities, but start making up false "real names" and have them ready. if your current accounts won't let you change your REAL name, close them. Now.

  13. Gian Singh
    July 26, 2012 at 12:17 am

    This is great like mark O'Neill said now they are accountable for what they say.

  14. Matthew B. Tepper
    July 25, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Next step -- the Yahoo! News comments sections. Every article devolves into name-calling about politics, whether it has any bearing on the article or not. Oh, for the days when kids would elbow one another for the right to be the first commenter!

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 26, 2012 at 9:18 am

      There's abuse in the Yahoo News comments? I can't say I have looked that closely at Yahoo News over the years. Maybe I should go and take another look!

      I was going to say that all news websites are cursed with this problem but MakeUseOf news stories seem to be quite civilised - so far!

  15. Clancolin
    July 25, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I don't like this idea for 3 reasons:
    1. I work for a government agency and they have a strict policy as to what I can say on-line, if I can be identified as their employee. As Clancolin, there is nothing to tie me to my employer, so I can comment freely and without worry in a forum.

    2. This works the other way as well. If my employer knew who Clancolin was and I apply for promotion, my online contributions would be searched for. If they saw that I was a fan of (say) pig wrestling in mud made from rare unicorn tears, that could impact on their interpretation of my suitability,

    3. As previously mentioned, I don't want the nutters to invade my home. Once your name is out there, so is you phone number and then your address.

    If Google want to filter out hate and swearing, then put delay on comments and pass them through a filter before they are posted.

    The only comments I've made on YouTube videos have been positive or have added to the information . That will end, if I need to use my real name.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 26, 2012 at 9:16 am

      I can just envision the avalanche of unfair dismissal lawsuits now when fired employees sue Google for being the cause of losing their jobs.

      And I can totally identify with the nutters part. A few years back, some people didn't like something I had wrote online and they tracked down my phone number and address. They called me up and basically told me what they would do to me and my wife (and it wasn't to give me a Writer Of The Year award and a box of chocolates). I had to change my phone number and hope they didn't come to my front door.

      It's all too easy in the era of readily available information online for people to find you if they want to.

      • Clancolin
        July 26, 2012 at 12:49 pm

        "...they tracked down my phone number and address. "
        Despicable - and it must have been horrific for your family.

        That is part of the reason I frequently hold my tongue on-line, even though I know what's being written is utter nonsense. Robust debate and frank exchanges of opinion are fine, but when the raving loonies can actually come and get you, then that is the time to let it go.

        • ConsumerEqualizer
          July 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm

          And it should be a federal crime when they do. But this change allows them to. So if something bad does happen, yes I think Google should be legally liable.

  16. Truefire_
    July 25, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    I'm not sure I like where web anonymity is going. What if some psychopath doesn't like what you said, nice or not? They can find you and kill you much more easily now. Lovely.

  17. Sal
    July 25, 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Too little to late. The crude posters will not care by and large. And who reads these comments anymore? I have given up on them.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 26, 2012 at 9:20 am

      I'm actually not quite sure why there is a comments section in YouTube in the first place to be honest. You can host videos and not have an abusive comments section.

      If their aim was to create an online community....well, they've spectacularly failed on that count.

  18. Shanterra Bland
    July 25, 2012 at 4:57 pm

    Im sure that this will really help anything...some people just dont care

  19. heatherliban
    July 25, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    They have to do something. This method won't end the trolls, but may make it more difficult. Unfortunately, this method may also make honest commentors who don't use G+ stop commenting.

  20. John Smith
    July 25, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    This is a wonderful idea.

    • Sock Puppet
      July 25, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      I concur.

    • ConsumerEqualizer
      July 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm

      Nope, sure isn't.

  21. Nicky
    July 25, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I think it's a good idea and I think Youtube should go one step further by limiting accounts to one IP address. It would cut down people using multiple accounts to troll and harass people.

    • Randomling
      July 25, 2012 at 4:16 pm

      Er... what?

      Limiting each account to one IP address would mean that no one would be able to access their Youtube account from both home and work, or while travelling on a mobile device. I'd hazard a guess that a lot of people use their accounts over more than one IP - even if only because someone links them a video at work, where they can't play it, and they use their account to save it for later.

      I think you might mean limiting each IP address to one account, but that would also have some pretty massive problems. For most households, it would mean one account per household. For most companies, it would mean one account per company (or at least per building). And don't some ISPs give you a non-static IP? What happens then? You're locked permanently out of your account as soon as your IP changes?

      I think this whole premise rests on the idea that if you're identifiable, you stop trolling. And I think that's a basically false premise. If they really want to - for fair reasons or foul - people will find a way around it. Stricter measures, or tying your online identity to a wallet name more and more tightly, are really not the answer.

      If there's a way to reduce the numbers of trolls, it's probably got a lot more to do with figuring out what it really is that drives trolls than with removing the anonymity of lots of people who need it for legitimate reasons (or who simply choose it without any kind of malicious intent).

      • Nicky
        July 25, 2012 at 4:46 pm

        I think, Youtube should limit to one IP per computer using MAC address or limit one Youtube account to per Name or email address. I also think that Youtube should make trolls IP address known and posted as well. I also think Youtube should crack down on cyberbullying on Youtube because trolls have been known to use Youtube to cyberbully, and cyber harass people. They should make it a rule on Youtube if your caught cyberbullying and trolling online, You get reported to law enforcement.

        • ConsumerEqualizer
          July 26, 2012 at 4:46 pm

          You just think these things because you don't understand the internet, nor do you respect your own or anyone else's privacy. Fortunately, you aren't in charge, and the thought that someone like you might be horrifies me for Americans.

        • NameKeptPrivate
          October 25, 2012 at 3:41 am

          Wow. This is the most idiotic thing I have ever heard in my life. "Hey guys I have an Idea! Lets make it so that Not only does someone know my FIRST AND LAST name but lets tie my IP address to EVERYTHING I do that way when someone decides they dont like my comment they can hack my computer and steal my personal and financial data because I shop online. Making it easier for trolls and hackers to abuse and torment. While we are at it lets make cyberbullying easier to since you can pinpoint someones Physical location with an IP Address." This would never work and people like you are the reason why Congress has such a hard time coming up with bills to put their "power" on the internet.

          Let me break this down for you. A Hacker or Troll can simply acquire software that gives him a virtual IP address. What this means is I can still post whatever the hell I want to and it looks like im from Canada, UK, US, and Germany all at the same time. Or simply tracks back to a server in a major company and then stops there.

          Say we do what you want. Every youtube account is tied to an IP Address for anyone to see... Youtube then becomes this huge feeding grown for online predators/criminals/hackers and more dark and sinister people than just simple trolls or cyberbullys. Say I post something like "Wow I really dont like this video" Under constitutional law I am allowed to say this about any video I want to because Im an american Citizen I can voice my opinion. Lets pretend that the video I just commented on belongs to someone who has a hard time with critism, is very intelligent, and has anger issues. Next thing I know is the video poster is knocking on my door and is very disgruntle (see where this is going)

          Might as well just stamp my SSN across my forehead and take away every right as a human being that I have. That way if I want to post on youtube I have to scan the barcode on my arm that lets Google and everyone in the world see everything from the year I was born to my blood type.

      • Marc
        September 13, 2012 at 9:35 am

        you need to keep talking

    • SickBoy
      July 31, 2016 at 9:58 pm

      You've got a nice way to create ten big problems by solving a single small one. You should work for government.

  22. Bruce Thomas
    July 25, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    I'm glad to see the attempt at removing offensive language from the cowards that post shock-style comments. Let the light in and the cockroaches run for dark places.

  23. Paul Harris
    July 25, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    This is long over-due. I usually skip reading many comments sections because of the idiotic, meaningless responses.

    I hope other Websites adopt this procedure.

  24. Spencer Vincent
    July 25, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    They should make it across the board and not allow people to comment unless they have a social network account. Great idea!

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 26, 2012 at 9:21 am

      And what about the people without a social networking account? Are they to miss out?

      • Spencer Vincent
        July 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

        Yeah, who don't have one these days? Either that or confirm your identity another way.

        • Scott
          July 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

          I don't have a facebook page, and am content as a cucumber not having one.

  25. Dylan Brendan
    July 25, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Great article.

  26. Scutterman
    July 25, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    I don't believe this will work, simply because the trolls can and will make fake google plus accounts by the dozen if it suites their purpose.

    I'm also against this on a more personal level. Online I am Scutterman.
    It is partly to do with retaining privacy, though mainly it is because Scutterman is almost a separate persona.
    The internet is the first place I was really accepted. I could go online, share ideas, create awesome things, and not worry about people judging me because of my age or any other physical attribute.
    I'm more confident online, more social, and I'd quite like to keep Scutterman separate from my offline life.
    People who know me well in real life know I'm also Scutterman, and people who know me well online know who I am offline, but I reserve the right to control when and how much people know about me. And I certainly don't want everyone who reads a youtube video's comments to instantly know everything about me.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 26, 2012 at 9:10 am

      Good point. Many people have developed separate anonymous lives online and I know some people myself who fall into this category.

      Also, you have quite a good name - Scutterman - but what if someone has an embarrassing name, such as Princess Big Boobs? Then her real identity is revealed because Google insists on real names? Talk about major embarrassment time.

      • Scutterman
        July 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

        I'm disappointed in Google to be honest. They run their own captcha service, why not use that? If it isn't good enough, they should improve it until it is good enough, then use it.

  27. leemeade77
    July 25, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    The Chicago Tribune did this recently, and what a difference. Before they would not allow comments on certain 'urban' stories because of off-color stuff. But the room is very empty now. Seeing just a handful of comments now where before there would be dozens. Not sure how this is affecting their traffic, but at least for now the trolls have moved on.

  28. Christian Cawley
    July 25, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    Given the vast number of videos from gamers that can be found on YouTube, this seems as though they've either misjudged things badly or they're attempting to force a seachange in an historically conservative subculture...

  29. Dany Bouffard
    July 25, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    This is far from the good way to make trolls go away. Trolls will just create false accounts to circumvent the system. And it makes identity theft easyer, since you can find the identity of someone from this and then go from there to find more info about that person,.

    • Joel Lee
      July 25, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      I agree with you. It's easy to create new G+ profiles, which means it will be easy to write YouTube comments under fake names. If anything, this new Youtube policy won't affect trolls--only those who would've followed rules and laws anyway.

      It'd only work if G+ was tied to a credit card or your social security number or some other unique identifier. Unfortunately, this would result in user outrage and G+ would die the next day.

  30. Randomling
    July 25, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    I have a G+ account (mostly unused) and I don't think I have ever left a comment on a Youtube video. I don't use my Youtube account much. But I don't think I really feel the need to use my wallet name on Youtube, and only use it on G+ because I am forced to. (My preference is to use either my commonly-used nickname, or my first name only, depending on context; I only use my full name when forced to (G+, Facebook) or in a professional context (LinkedIn).

    And I don't support a wallet-names policy for pretty much any site online.

    One reason is that many people online have legitimate reasons for wanting to protect their privacy online. (I appreciate that in the case of Youtube, Google are offering you the opportunity to give a reason for not wanting to share your name with the general internet, but it's still far from ideal.)

    Another reason is that while getting rid of trolls is a worthy and laudable goal, this really is not the way to do it. You only have to look at Facebook to see that enforcing a 'real names' policy doesn't stop people from saying malicious, offensive or (in some cases) even criminal things.

    There's also the question of 'what is a real name'? Many people even in the offline world commonly go by names that don't appear on their birth certificates or driver's licenses. One example is trans* individuals, but a much less controversial one is people like my mother, who choose to use their middle names instead of their first names. (J. Michael Straczynski is a a good example for anyone who's a sci-fi or comics fan.)

    I'd be the first person to agree that trolling is bad and annoying and hurtful - but why choose a method to fight it that both doesn't work for the intended purpose, and actively makes life difficult for people who are causing no trouble?

  31. N
    July 25, 2012 at 11:25 am

    This is disgusting. Good thing I don't have a G+ account. I'll never make one.

    • Mark O'Neill
      July 25, 2012 at 11:40 am

      What's disgusting? Forcing people to be accountable for the things they say?

      • Doc
        July 25, 2012 at 11:50 pm

        No, forcing a change down peoples' throats. Blizzard tried something similar, IIRC, and got shouted down.

        Note that I don't have to put my real name in here, but I put in my real email address (that won't be displayed, and that's the only reason!)

        I don't necessarily want to shout out to the whole world who I am or how to reach me, but I do like making my voice heard. You'll find that lots of people will complain to Google...and Google will be stupid if it doesn't listen.

      • ConsumerEqualizer
        July 26, 2012 at 4:40 pm

        Wow, really? You're too dumb to know what is wrong with this? Only the whole world knowing every single solitary thing you say. Unlike twitter, where you are actively intending to broadcast it, here where you intend a narrow scope audience, there is anything but.

      • Michelle
        October 21, 2012 at 4:56 am

        Don't you remember the good ol' days when they said NOT to publish your real name on the internet? I feel like they are telling me and my kid to throw those safety lessons out the window. Both of us have rare last name. It would not be that hard for someone to figure out who we are if we go by our real names.

        Also, I feel that some of my comments are better left anonymous. It's easier to truthfully answer questions when I am not worried that my family or co-workers are going to find out my personal secrets.

        Plus - If a spammer can say their name is ___ , can't they just as easily make up a fake "real name" ?

      • SilentPerson
        December 25, 2012 at 7:53 pm

        You mean forcing innocent people to have their information exposed on the internet and possibly placing themselves and their families in danger? Thanks to the internet, crazy people can easily find out where they live, where they work, and where their children go to school.

        Or do you consider having a child picked up by some strange man who thought their picture was cute on the internet as accountability?

    • drjacko
      July 25, 2012 at 12:16 pm

      Aha! Wouldn't the article's policy be great here to out this obvious troll?

      • Randomling
        July 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm

        N's comment is strongly worded and sounds angry to me, but I'm not sure I'd want to instantly class it as trolling without further context. There are plenty of people who feel very strongly about Google's wallet names policy.

        Mark, I wouldn't count on this policy change making Youtube comments significantly more civilised...

        • Michael Hart
          July 25, 2012 at 7:16 pm

          Not until everyone's _forced_ to use their real name, no.

          I think YouTube should simply use Google+ commenting, doing away entirely with their own comment system. It's been said many times that Google's working on something to compete with Facebook, Disqus, etc. What better place to use it?

          For people that don't want to use it, give them classic comments. This way people who do use it don't see their crap :)

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