Google-owned YouTube is launching Profile Cards, a way for users to explore the comment history and activity of others on existing channels.
Information on YouTubers including profile names, subscriptions, profile photos, subscriber counts, and recent comments is already public, but Profile cards will consolidate this existing data and make it viewable in one place.
As reported by TechCrunch, trials of the system began in September 2019. Profile cards will not provide a full account of a user's comment history, but rather a snapshot based on their activity on a specific channel that has been visited, including their engagement and comments.
YouTube hopes the new feature will "help you explore comments, build connections with others, and contribute to a more welcoming YouTube overall."
According to a YouTube employee, you will be able to tap on the profile picture of a commenter to pull up their Profile card, which displays their public information. However, "only comments posted on the channel you're watching will show up."
A "View Channel" link is included at the bottom of the Profile card.
The feature will begin its rollout on the Android mobile operating system to begin with over the next few days. Other devices will be included in the future.
The aggregation idea is an interesting one, considering it may help smaller channels raise their own profiles as they can be recognized as some of the most active commenters on more popular content creator channels.
It could also be used as a means to identify abusive users and trolls by tracking their comment histories. There is a flip side to this too, however, as the data Profile cards give to identify trolls may also be used by them if they are targeting particular subscribers.
We will have to wait and see how the general rollout plays out, and whether if Profile cards become a force for good and active engagement rather than for abuse.
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YouTube has requested that users provide feedback on the tool as they try it out.
In related news, YouTube recently implemented changes in order to comply with US rules concerning data collection from minors. The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) now applies to content creators -- despite them having no access to any data gathered from young viewers -- and they may be penalized severely unless they properly mark their videos as 'for children' or 'not for children.'
Previous and related coverage
- YouTube policy on removing 'instructional hacking' content causes infosec community outrage
- YouTube rolls out changes for COPPA compliance, expects 'significant impact' for creators
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