Forced Google Plus integration on YouTube backfires, petition hits 112,000

Forced Google Plus integration on YouTube backfires, petition hits 112,000

Summary: OPINION. The backlash against Google forcing YouTube commenters to use Google Plus is now too big to ignore. But will Google listen?


Google's war on anonymity during its involvement in NSA controversy has imploded as its move to force YouTube commenters to use Google Plus - and its unwanted "real name" policy - has backfired.


On November 6, Google changed its YouTube property to only allow comments from Google Plus accounts, thus de-anonymizing commenters, as the principal element of its site-wide comments overhaul.

Google's move to force Plus onto YouTube has outraged the YouTube community - and beyond.

YouTube user fury is fueling this anti-Plus petition with over 112,000 signatures, increasing by the minute. (Update November 17, 10:12am PST: over 167,000 signatures.)

Why am I unable to comment? I have been a YouTuber for 3 years and this is the kind of treatment we "originals" [Before any of the G+ crap came in] receive for refusing to show our name publicly?

We want privacy. I do not want my full name on YouTube. I do not care for Google Plus either so stop shoving it in my face. [Nathan S, UK]

I've watched this Google Product Forum YouTube page increase by 10,000 posts over the last two days, all specifically rejecting Plus and de-anonymization.

I have been asked to change my name for the 9th time now.

Google I do NOT wish to use my real name on Youtube, because of a little thing called PRIVACY and another one called SAFETY. [STOP ASKING ME TO USE MY REAL NAME]

Angry and frustrated YouTube content creator TotalBiscuit with its 1,368,000 subscribers, is not the only artist now directing their video comments offsite to places like to Reddit.

He has banded together with other channels (like YouTube's biggest star PewDiePie; 15.6 million subscribers, 2.8bn views) to shut off YouTube comments completely.

The rage at Google for forcing Plus onto YouTube has been covered steadily in the press for eight days running.

Media outlets specifically covering users' angry rejection of Plus include Guardian UK, Forbes, TIME, International Business Times, CNN, The Verge, Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, PC Magazine, TechCrunch, the topic has crowded the front page of sites like Reddit and Slashdot, and more.

Google's own YouTube video about the introduction of Plus comments has over 21,000 unbelievably furious comments.

Google has annotated the video to explain that it appreciates the feedback (!) and will fix the spam problem right away.

The N-word, 85 times

If Google's new Plus comment system was changed to encourage positivity and civility, then make no mistake - it doesn't work.

Plus commenters can post links. There is no character limit. Spam and obscenity is rampant.

Worse, the display of comments favors the popular - as in, the most "controversial" comments - from more active Plus users (Google's promise of "smarter sorting" and "meaningful conversations").

YouTube artist Emma Blackery posted a fun-spirited, peeved anti-Google Plus ukulele song in reaction to the change, and was featured on a few tech blogs to the tune of over one million views, with over 30,000 likes in just three hours (and only 1000 dislikes).

But her friend Hank noticed how things had gone so very wrong in the YouTube Plus comments displayed on her video.

Let’s take a look at the “Top Comments” YouTube decided would be more relevant and important to me:

YouTube Plus comments

 He continues,

I think I have identified a couple of problems.

First, I assume Google has a very sophisticated spam filtering program but, apparently, it isn’t triggered by someone just typing the word “n-r” 85 times. So, yeah, let’s put some resources toward that.

(...) Third, and this is maybe the more important point…YouTube is highlighting the comments from popular G+ users and, apparently, they’re dicks. ... Calling her a “Clever little attention seeker” belittling her concerns and repeatedly referring to her as “entitled.”

These guys are who trolls grow up to be. 

"Thanks, have a nice day"

With over a hundred thousand people writing comments demanding the return of anonymity, rejecting Google's forced real name use, and specifically pointing out Google's role in the NSA surveillance debacle, you'd think that Google would be concerned about user trust on the issue of personally identifying information.

Before anyone tells me I can't complain about "free" things, and starts to remind me that Google hasn't done anything directly to feed the U.S. Government's flagrant - and growing - surveillance law abuses enacted on civilians, consider this.

No one likes being tricked by a company that leverages a monopoly to force unrelated services and nonconsensual exposure onto people's lives.

Hundreds of thousands (actually, more) are being coerced, through threat of withholding essential utilities (email, work docs, etc.), to consolidate their online identities, tie it to real life and real names, reveal friends and family connections, have communications scanned, be put in advertisements, provide phone numbers and credit cards numbers, and more, while discovering that service settings and privacy defaults are being changed behind the curtain.

And when they complain and demand privacy, the ability to give informed consent, and control over their personal information, they're told they're doing settings wrong, the policies are really for their own good, to send in their IDs for verification, that they agreed to all this in the beginning anyway, it's too late, that this is how everyone does it, and that wanting privacy really means something else because only good people don't have anything to hide.

The thing is, when the Snowden revelations began tearing everything apart, we kind of weren't surprised to see certain companies' names in the NSA lineup.

But to see Google on that slide, for some of us, felt surprisingly personal. One and all, we've each somehow related to Google in a way beyond that of a faceless corporation.

Many are quick to accuse Google of evil, but I think reasoned people must reject this thinking; Google is not a cartoonish D.C. Comics villain. 

Google tells us that its world is the best to live in, after all. And the real people, with real hearts, and real families, and real names, and real hopes and dreams that work there, believe it.

And so, standing outside of it, we watch Google make bold gestures of challenging the FBI in Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, so Google can publish numbers of dubious, broken, hintingly terrifyingly dystopian data requests made about Google users.

In terms of its behaviors exhibited through the invasive madness and desperation of Plus, where any consideration of the human experience requiring respect for privacy and the sanctity of personal information is absent, the court filing reeks of distraction.

And so as Google progresses with its ceaseless interrogations and rendering of our lives in its datacenter abattoirs, our observations become a bitterly lucid dislocation from the present, a realization that we have taken for granted a situation that is now being revealed in all its hideousness.

What is your full name?

Ok, if you won't give me that, then what kinds of videos do you like to see?

If you don't give me that, tell me when you're going to make a post on someone else's video.

If you won't give me that, then tell me what you actually post on those videos.

If you won't give me that, then let me know what you subscribe to.

Who are your friends? What are their full names?

I'll find out who you are, who your friends are, and what all of you are doing on Google and Youtube some way through this Facebook-esque copycat and sell that information to people you don't know and there's not a god damn thing you can do about it.

Thanks, have a nice day. [brighterside]

 Google, are you listening?

Topics: Google, The Year's Best Tech for Work and Play

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  • Flop

    Google cannot live with the idea that they have failed big time against a competitor. Google+ is technically as good as Facebook but it didn't capture the imagination of the users and that is why it's a flop. Now they will do anything to drag user's of their other services to it. I use to have a Picasaweb account whit a yearly fee for additional storage. That service was merged to Google+ It was such a P*InTheA** that I have decided to abandon it. All my family pics are now on Skydrive. Google will have to learn to live with a failure and move on. They can't win on every level. Social media is not their thing and making Youtube one is out of line.
    • Agreed.

      "Google cannot live with the idea that they have failed big time against a competitor"

      That would also give them the opportunity to bragging rights. I imagine we'll see something in the near future along the lines of "Google+ is THE fastest growing social media site. [X] amount of users must know something you don't" or something similar.

      That's the beauty of advertising - you don't need to tell them WHY its "growing" so fast.
    • gbouchard, beg to differ

      Youtube was THE social network. Facebook couldn't compete with it.. until now. It was THE video hosting site, and everyone else was inferior. It was a great place to be, up until December 2008, when they started introducing dysfunctional interface changes. Still HD and over-10-minutes allowances made Youtube worth retaining. But the interface changes to the new and very ugly (and very imitated) hospital white and black with thin and unreadable Arial typeface), made life miserable on Youtube.

      El colmo, is the removing of privacy. You might counter, 'well your comments in Youtube are public, and even searchable on Google'. Yep. But private still, in a) one could use a pseudonym, and b) responses have to be by other Youtubers, which can be blocked or responded to WITHIN Youtube. Not, Google Plus. Best of all, Youtube didn't mine your address book or subscriptions as some ploy to send out bogus invitations in your name to 'join' Youtube. But Facebook does all these things. Even after one LEAVES Facebook. That, is an invasion of privacy, and even lying (since you've left and you didn't send the invitation yourself). LinkedIn follows the same despicable practice. But not Youtube.

      So many of us hate Facebook and all it stands for. We found a social home at Youtube. Alas, now with this forcing of Google Plus, we've lost that home.
      • YouTube is NOT a social network.

        YouTube is NOT a social network and it has never been one. YouTube is an entertainment site. It's not a place to chat with friends. It's like watching TV. The difference was that the comments section allowed viewers to give feedback on the videos they watched. THAT is it's main purpose. To foster feedback and discussion between creator and viewer, not to have viewers socially interact with each other.
        • Deal with it

          Google+ = 300.000.000 real members = not a fail

          Google give us youtube, search and more for free

          So if google want, google do

          Forgot facebook, go to Google+ and enjoy. (it's really better)

          deal with it
          Frangy Plop
          • Er, what?

            I assume English is your second language........
            Dave Howes
          • Google+ is a big time fail

            Of those 300million you mention how many are forced users, because google force me with gmail in their first stage, then force with maps, latitude, play store, google chat, now youtube so I'm one of the 300 million, and when I go to my G+ accout I see only my friends that work for google post something, in fact google added my friends, I wasnt asked for permission they simply added people to my circles.
          • Agreed

            I am technically a member, because I wanted to maintain access to the Play store for my Android tablet. As a result, though I am signed up for several of the services (since they are all tied together), I only use Play. I won't use anything else. And even then, I won't get anything that isn't free, because I'll be damned if I'll provide Google with ANY financial information. EVER. Which is too bad, because there are few apps I'd like to buy, if only to compensate the authors for the free versions.
          • what a joke.

            When you claim that Google+ has 300 million users, you are signaling to the world that you no longer have any desire to be taken seriously again. All you want is to fellate Sergey and Larry and will do anything to make that happen...not matter how ignorant it makes you look.
        • You are so wrong.

          YouTube was VERY much a social network until they started to rip it apart.

          I'm a video creator and had 100,000+ subscribers on my channel which I chatted with and some even made friends with. I'd connect with them and have fun contests and such through video responses and comments etc... it was the most social I've ever been online. I even had viewers get inspired by my videos and start their own channels which I then followed after.

          Nothing is more social than face to face and youtube was essentially that- it was as face to face as you could get online other than live cam chats.
          Asil Steen
          • just becuase you have no life

            Doesn't mean that YouTube was a social network.
          • Just because you are a troll

            Doesn't mean you should troll everyone. At least be selective.
        • YouTube is very much a social site

          The interaction between video creator and commentators is as much a social interaction as is any other social network. Digital "social" interactions are artificial, no matter the venue.
      • It's not really even about social...

        Yes, G+ is Google's social product. However more importantly (to Google) it's their Identity Management Product. Your login is your G+ ID. That's where things are going - under the hood.

        Google may take feedback from the public and make the privacy, etc. better in G+, but I don't think they will ever remove the integration that they've been working on for years.

        My 2 cents...
        Roderick Forsythe
      • sorry, ignrant one, but...

        Facebook doesn't mine my address book. In face, Facebook has Never taken any piece of information about me...or you, or ANYONE...that we all haven't explicitly given it. GOOGLE, on the other hands, does take things without your permission. You don't have to have even one Google account and they are still mining data on you. And selling it to not only the EXACT SAME companies that Facebook does, but far more. They have built themselves into a $375 billion company SOLELY through selling your information.
    • Stop forcing G+

      Forcing G+ in to every channel and application is the worst decision Google has made. You can't RATE OR COMMENT ON AN ANDROID APP unless you sign up for G+. What if I just don't CARE about G+, and don't want another "pet" in my life.
      • Unfortunately, it's Google's call.

        Right now that's the deal Google has put on the table. If you want to use their products you have to use it the way they say or go elsewhere. I don't know that 112,000 signatures is significant given that Youtube has hundreds of millions viewers ever day. They'd need to get more in the area of 10,000,000 signatures before it got their attention.
        Ben Gleck
        • Yep, just like with Apple

          Don't really see Google doing anything others haven't done before with services/products they own. Maybe the hubbub will be softened if they allow aliases for commenting on sites like YouTube while still having your account tied into login for the site.
          • Already Allow Alias Accounts

            They already allow alias accounts. When they made the switch I kept my alias name. Now when I log in I can decide to switch between my real name or the alias. The alias has its own youtube channel and G+ page which is managed by my "real name" account, and it can also post comments on youtube. I honestly don't get what the hubbub is all about.

            I did, however, have problems posting at first, but it turned out to be an option in Chrome blocking "3rd party cookies." Just had to add exceptions for,, and Odd that I had to do this considering its Google Chrome.
          • hubbubhubbub

            >>They already allow alias accounts. When they made the switch I kept my alias name. Now when I log in I can decide to switch between my real name or the alias. The alias has its own youtube channel and G+ page which is managed by my "real name" account, and it can also post comments on youtube. I honestly don't get what the hubbub is all about.

            See? It's so simple!