Tuesday, July 24, 2012

YouTube Wants Your Real Name

YouTube Wants Your Real Name

If you've visited YouTube.com lately, you'll have noticed something new. YouTube is trying very hard to persuade you to switch from using your old, probably anonymous account name, to start using your real name instead. If you create a new YouTube account it works like this. The signup process forces you to create a Gmail account. Once you have Gmail you are pushed to use Google+. Now that you have Gmail, YouTube, and Google+, Google wants you to tie them all together, creating "one Google-wide identity." If you agree, your full name and picture will be appearing alongside any home videos you share on YouTube and the comments you post on other people's videos.

When YouTube launched in 2005 usernames could be entirely anonymous. When Twitter launched the following year it took the same approach and has maintained it ever since. Other sites, most notably Facebook, have focused on forcing members to use their real identity. With the launch of Google+ last year, Google made a clear choice in favor of following the Facebook model. Google has offered an odd rationale for pushing you to use your real identity on YouTube: "Maybe you’ve outgrown that username cutepuppies99, which seemed like such a good idea at the time. Or perhaps your friends are missing out on your mad origami skills, because they don’t know you are the genius behind origamiboy1981." The real reason is that this makes commercial sense for Google and its partners.

YouTube is a very different site to Facebook. It is a wide open community designed with the simple purpose of finding and sharing great short form video content. Do you really want complete strangers to watch your home videos, know your name and see your photograph? Mashable has suggested that using real names on YouTube could stop people leaving negative and hurtful comments. It's important to realize that now hurtful comments will be aimed at your real identity, not just a goofy cutepuppies99 pseudonym. We think that is likely to make cyber bullying on YouTube much more dangerous.

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