Google's recent decision to revamp YouTube's comment system by integrating Google+ in order to reduce spam has proven to be extremely unpopular with users. Ironically, however, it has proven to be quite a hit with the spammers themselves.
The problem has not gone unnoticed by the YouTube comments team who, on Monday, acknowledged the issue via a blog post:
Since we launched the new comments experience on YouTube two weeks ago, we’ve received a lot of feedback from creators on the increase in comment spam. While the new system dealt with many spam issues that had plagued YouTube comments in the past, it also introduced new opportunities for abuse and shortly after the launch, we saw some users taking advantage of them.
In response to the plague of spam hitting the video-sharing site, YouTube has now implemented some updates which it believes will stem the tide.
The main changes involve better detection of bad links, improved recognition of impersonation attempts, and a change in the length of time that comments are displayed for.
There will also be improved detection of ASCII art – images dropped into comments by constructing a picture from text characters – which should hopefully lead to far less tanks, bananas and penises being seen beneath YouTube videos in the future (though I suspect there will always be a few bananas leaving stupid comments).
YouTube also disclosed that it will be adding further features to the commenting system which it hopes will be of benefit to video creators:
So what's next? We're moving forward with more improvements to help you manage comments on your videos better. Bulk moderation has been a long standing creator request and we'll be releasing tools for that soon. At the same time, we’re also working on improving comment ranking and moderation of old-style comments.
Whether the changes will appease all of YouTube's user base remains to be seen as many seem to favour a return to the pre-Google+ days.
A petition was recently launched on change.org asking for a return to the old comment system:
Google is forcing us to make google+ accounts and invading our social life to comment on a youtube video and trying to take away our anonymous profile. They are also trying to censor us unless we share the same world view as they do.
Such sentiment seems to be quite widespread, with over 200,000 people adding their digital signatures to the petition in the last two weeks.
Google, however, seems unperturbed in continuing the integration and one could speculate that there are a couple of reasons why it would wish to persevere.
From Google's point of view, forcing YouTube users onto its social networking site has the potential to lift its profile at a time when it is arguably playing third (or more) fiddle to both Facebook and Twitter.
Secondly, integration of the two sites will provide Google with even more information about the users of both services and, as all Naked Security readers should know by now, that data has value to those who wish to use it in order to deliver targeted advertisements.
How do you feel about Google forcing people to have a Google+ account in order to comment on YouTube? Do you think it's all a storm in a teacup and great if it means the changes eventually will reduce the amount of spam on the site, or are you just plain annoyed that you need to sign up to Google+ in order to leave a comment in the first place?