Google admits that forcing G+ on YouTube users has increased spam

Filed Under: Featured, Google, Spam

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:

YouTube comments update

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 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 logoGoogle, 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?

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36 Responses to Google admits that forcing G+ on YouTube users has increased spam

  1. Anonymous · 680 days ago

    I prefer my public-facing comments to be untraceable by the public to a single person, as you see here. If forced to attach my real name for all to see, I just won't comment, good or bad. The answer to spam and unrelated comments is moderation, as it is here.

    • slipstream · 680 days ago

      My google+ account has a fake, *real-looking* name.

      And seeing as it's tied to an old youtube account i can still comment using the username from that.

  2. Anonymous · 680 days ago

    I have multiple channels on YouTube, Why should I (and many others who are in the same boat) be forced to create a G+ for every single channel we have?

    • Psydefects · 679 days ago

      Because Google has become a greedy selfish profit-oriented firm, pushing aggressively users and trying to find their "buttons" so they will comply. Gone are the old days.

    • Magyver · 678 days ago

      I could be wrong but I don't think you have to. A single G+ acct should work for all.

    • Justin · 678 days ago

      From what I've read, you can link a YouTube channel to a Google+ page and manage multiple channels via one Google account.
      So in theory you could have say:
      Google Account - John Doe,
      -> Google+ For John Doe
      --> Google+ Page, FunTube
      ---> YouTube Channel FunTube
      --> Google+ Page, FunTubeTV2
      ---> YouTube Channel FunTube2

      So you would only have one Google Account with Google+ and multiple pages that are each linked to a channel.

  3. Lois Johnson · 680 days ago

    I do not like the intrusion of G+ into my internet life. I don't like their push to put me into their social network and their use of my information if I do accede. I just will not comment if this continues.

  4. Xejis · 680 days ago

    I absolutely hate being forced into having a google+ account just to type comments. Even now that I finally relented it still won't let me post comments! To be honest if this keeps up I'm deleting my account altogether.

    • Anonymous · 442 days ago

      I did that as soon as I heard Google went ahead with this draconian idea.

    • KBC · 434 days ago

      This! I simply won't comment any more on youtube videos. I am sure tens of thousands, if not more, are doing just the same. I have had one youtube account for many, many years, and I simply won't link it to a Google+ account (real or fake) so that I can comment. Many youtubers that I was subscribed to and commented about have wondered where I have gone.

      Can't wait until Google ruins Twitch as well.

      Don't be evil? Don't be ironic.

  5. softwareforparentalcontrol · 680 days ago

    BTW and OT: Thank you for always repeating the plain text that's in your screen shots. For people with visual problems and using screen readers this really helps.

  6. Bear Hunter · 680 days ago

    I WILL NOT start a G+ account just to comment. And if they make that you have a G+ account just to watch youtube, I will stop watching youtube.

    • Bob · 128 days ago

      There are other ways to watch YouTube, if that's all you want to do. Like using Tor or a VPN. If a video won't play for some reason then try replacing the portion of the url with ...v/...

  7. asm-wolf · 679 days ago

    Forcing people on to a social network like google+ probably does not give people a good opinion of it or make them want to use it. A *very* silly move on google's part here IMHO.

  8. Terry · 679 days ago

    I refuse to be forced to join G+ by the Google dictatorship. I have used Preferences on my Google account to opt out of all Google targeted advertising. I don't do dictats, dictators or dictatorships. Google does all three.

    Join the refuseniks. Screw the dictatorships.

  9. I don't think this was about getting rid of spammers. Google+ is really bad. Hardly anyone uses it. Google was desperate to get people to use it so they're forcing it on anyone who wants to comment on YouTube. That was really stupid.

  10. Bob · 679 days ago

    I don't have a problem with it in principle, they want something back in return for what they give I suppose, My problem is it's too complicated to be bothered with. Endless help pages that lead onto even more help pages, videos showing you what to do a step at a time using mumbo jumbo language, I mean who cares? I give the minimum info required to get what I want to see, as for reading and leaving comments, I can do quite nicely without.

    • Nigel · 679 days ago

      I agree, Bob. I don't believe I have any "right" to a YouTube account, or a Google account, or any other "free" account...for the simple reason that nothing is free. Everything costs something.

      In the case of online services like Google, what you pay is the personal information they want about who you are and what you do online. If you're not willing to pay that price, don't use the services. I'm OK with that.

      The part that really annoys me is that an increasing number of vendors and service providers are requiring people to have one of these privacy-invading "social" accounts just to do business with them. For example, my doctor's medical group provides online access to my account, but ONLY if I use Google+ or Facebag to log in. I won't do it.

      That's the hellish part of this social account disease --- the increasingly widespread assumption that everyone wants to be a part of the loss of privacy epidemic. I don't.

      • I think this a huge issue, I have to have a facebook account purely to access my daughters clubs to check times etc. Do I deprive her of that? And lazy companies that say 'find us on Facebook' with not even a link. Can't be bothered.

  11. Nigel · 679 days ago

    "How do you feel about Google forcing people to have a Google+ account in order to comment on YouTube?"

    I hate it...and not because I'm a spammer or a hit-and-run commenter who posts garbage comments and then tries to hide behind anonymity. The reason I hate it is that it trashes the positive benefits of anonymity — namely, helping to protect against identity theft.

    That trashing of anonymity is the reason I dumped Facebag, which is the worst in that regard. And now here comes Google, essentially admitting that they're a Facebag wannabee. Aspiring to such LOWER standards does not speak well for Google.

  12. Ian · 679 days ago

    It seems to me that Google forces you to have a Google+ account EVEN JUST to add a YouTube video to your "Favourites" - becoming creepy to do anything on line anymore

  13. roy jones jr · 679 days ago

    Unfortunately, Google doesn't want to change what they have done. Even if that petition gets to 1million or higher, Google+ will still be there. I guess Google can handle the results of the change going forward??

  14. Magyver · 678 days ago

    The excuse that they did this to reduce spam is a farce. They want to put G+ on life support and get more cross-platform personal information for targeted ads at the same time.

  15. Paolo di Giugliemo · 677 days ago

    I hardly used YouTube after Google got rid of YouTube accounts, never mind comments.

  16. Mark · 631 days ago

    Google won't let me have a Google+ Acc. They deem that having bought an Android phone for Business Use and have a Business Name as an email address voids they requirement of having a Personsal Name. So I won't comply with them tracking me with whatever I do.

  17. Your mother · 571 days ago

    First they ask us to use Google+. When we refuse, they nag us until we accept. Even if after that we don't accept, well, they'll change it for us. Enough? Naaaah. Now they try to give us the "choice" to use our actual email address as account name (big no no). We refuse? They change it anyway. The only time I've seen a company trying to get your data so agressively, it turned out to be a scam. So, Youtube users, be warned. I have just shutdown my account, I'm not playing ball with such a dishonest company.

  18. Zara · 570 days ago

    I wish google would keep YouTube seperate from all this google plus crap. They are two great companies, why mess with YouTube. I switched my personal Google email over to Outlook to keep things simple, clean and organized. I don't know if this google plus nonsence is worth YouTube anymore. To read that the comment section is going to be controlled even more, takes away from one of the greatest appeals of YouTube. Seriously considering deleting anything Google related, even my loved google chrome :(

  19. rlbob · 534 days ago

    OK Its simple guys. Why would you use your real name when the people see 6,000 dollars of equipment in your garage and years ago you thought the simple " Where you at" with a GPS location was a great idea.
    Guys and gals the world has changed.

  20. Aneezelo · 446 days ago

    Google/Google+, took something w/Greatness and turned into something w/Sh!t Flavor.

    • Pattherealist · 429 days ago

      Now I understand why I can't leave comments on youtube. It's because I kicked that pos app called G+ to the kerb. Im ready to do the same with youtube if they dont stop f**king with us all. F, effin G+ and youtube! Bah!
      To many airhead consumers out there let themselves be maipulated by large companies like google. Wake up sheeple.

  21. Mikael · 427 days ago

    It is now August 8th, 2014, and I logged in to YouTube and tried to post a comment to a video. A pop-up dialog came up asking for some information, and a YouTube channel and a Google+ profile would be created for me if I would fill in the information.

    It just won't let me post a comment until I would have let the creation of the channel and profile to go through.

    I don't want to put anything on "my channel" on YouTube, since I am not a content publisher on YouTube - other than regarding my comments to videos other people have uploaded, and I don't have any need for a Google+ profile at all.

    I have had this YouTube user account for almost ten years now. I am seriously considering deleting it and all gmail accounts that I have.

    Google is bullying its customers in a serious way. It is already annoying-enough to see the user-interface of YouTube change, what, every two weeks, but not letting you to comment on videos until you have created a social networking profile might just push me over the edge and delete every account related to Google and YouTube.

    This combined with the news about the NSA spying on all of us as a norm is getting me to go away from American online services in general. I have already stopped using American restaurant and cafe chains. A friend of mine tried to get me to go to an American clothes shop and I said I will never give them any money. Google and YouTube can become the latest in this series of American businesses I will stop using.

    I will also look for a non-American smartphone operating system and increase my usage of Linux on the PC.

  22. Chris · 411 days ago

    just un google yourself .they will soon get the messege

  23. Tassit · 227 days ago

    Y'know, I personally don't care. Since I own and use a Google smartphone (and a Gmail account is required to do everything on it) I just accepted the change. One more email account isn't going to break my way of life.

  24. Technicalfool · 227 days ago

    Here we are a couple of years later, and the spammers and trolls on Youtube are worse than they've ever been. Most of them are coming "Via Google+", so I see that's worked out really well.

    And I still don't have a G+ account or a "profile". It means I can't even manage the comments on my own videos, not that I've uploaded any since the G+ crap. There are other video sites.

    It also means I can't rate or review Android apps. Oh well, sorry devs, I'd love to 5-star your wonderful app but.. well, I can't. Don't blame me. Blame Google.

  25. Anonymous · 192 days ago


    • Roland · 81 days ago

      I am very frustrated with the new policy. I have a YouTube account with some band/ministry videos and want to add additional videos. I can no longer access my original account. I am being forced to create a 'new' account. I now have to upload my videos to the "new" account, lose the history of the existing videos, update my website to link to the new account, order new business cards with the updated information - on and on and on...

      I am really upset that Google feels they must control everything we do online. My solution?

      Since I have to update my website, business cards, etc, anyway, I am going to leave YouTube all together and find a service that will not require Google, and update my website, business cards with the new information.

      Goodbye Google, you are getting too big, and have really messed up this time.

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About the author

Lee Munson is the founder of Security FAQs, a social media manager with BH Consulting and a blogger with a huge passion for information security.