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Transparency in Social Media: Google’s Elimination of Anonymity on YouTube

“Horror is the removal of masks.”

This quote from Robert Bloch, famed author of Psycho, particularly rings true with Google’s recent decision to prevent YouTube users from being able to hide behind aliases and instead have them disclose their full names when making comments on the popular video sharing site.

Google’s move, previously hinted at back in June at their developers conference, has unsurprisingly been met with a fair amount of user backlash.

The following comments on PCWorld’s coverage of Google’s announcement sum up what most of the detractors are criticizing:

While the above arguments are both valid, I, for one, embrace Google’s new policy on YouTube. The move should hopefully increase the amount of constructive comments, while others who previously hid behind anonymity and reveled in their vile comments are now minimized.

I predict Google is setting a new trend here that other social forums and news outlets will likely follow in their own comments fields. I am already seeing a significant jump in sites using the “Login with Facebook” feature, so users don’t have to create yet another user name.

But, having users’ full names visible is undoubtedly for these sites’ benefit as well. Being largely advertising-dependent, the sites now have greater user access – something that our client Attensity is seeing as the future, with the ever-growing amount of personal and demographic data available.

So, this latest development could be just a baby step in a longer strategy leading to a vast reduction of anonymous comments online. What do you think? Leave a comment below – ideally under your full name!

Jordan Hubert can be reached at jhubert@sterlingpr.com. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jahubert.

Photo credit: miserablespice via Flickr

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