YouTube trolls could soon become an endangered species

Trolling – To submit a deliberately provocative posting to an online message board with the aim of inciting an angry response.

The practice of trolling evokes mixed reactions. For some it is a hilarious and innocent form of entertainment, while for others is represents everything dangerous about the internet: a world of protective anonymity where people happily engage in activity for which their mothers would give them a damn good thrashing offline. I would have to say there was a time where I was more at the relaxed end of the spectrum, but at its worst it becomes almost impossible to argue that there isn’t a serious problem and one that needs fixing.

With extreme cases taking up more and more of the media spotlight, YouTube have decided it’s time to bring their famous trolling troubles to an end. Or more accurately, Google have. The move incorporates a range of changes to the way their commenting system will work, but the bottom line is this; unless you are logged into your Google+ account, you won’t be able to comment.

At first glance this seems to be a sensible solution to the issue of anonymity. However, sceptics are claiming this is a cynical attempt to tie an ever increasing proportion of online activity into their Google+ network.

Social media at its least social

There are over half a billion users on Google+ but nearly half of these don’t engage at all in their social stream and are merely incorporated into the network as a result of their other Google accounts, such as gmail. The change to the YouTube commenting system will no doubt further increase this chasm, but don’t think it therefore doesn’t add value to Google. With every month that passes it is becoming increasingly apparent that Google+ is not simply about social networking. That is one powerful function of it, but fundamentally it is about tying as much of your online experience into Google as possible. No matter where you are, what you’re doing, Google wants to know you’re never quite off its radar.

The change to the YouTube commenting system will continue to elicit mixed emotions. Many, particularly those that have fallen prey to YouTube trolls in the past, will feel it is an important and necessary decision. Others may feel less grateful for the change, or as the YouTube co-founder, Jared Karin, delicately put it:

“Why the f**k do i need a google+ account to comment on a video?!”

Dan