When Google made the seemingly inevitable move of merging YouTube and Google+ accounts together, it seemed that much of the Web was displeased. Out of nowhere, people began losing their usernames, replacing them instead with their real names. Anonymity was out the window, unless you were willing to sign up for a new account and effectively lose everything you've done on the previous one.
Last week, YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim spoke out about Google's decision, stating: "Why the [bleep] do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?" That might be a less than eloquently stated, but it's hard to disagree. Even websites that give the option nowadays to sign in via Facebook, Twitter and so forth, still give the option to sign up for a unique account specific to that site.
Google's motive is of course to improve G+ usage, something that it seems it has to force on people in order to make it happen. One might be led to believe that if Google has to go to such lengths, then it's a lost cause, but the company clearly sees things differently.
I have to admit that at first, I liked the idea of using real names on services like YouTube, with the sole reason being "trolls". YouTube's comment sections are the breeding ground of trolls and generally the worst kinds of people you'll come across. By forcing people to use their real names, however, troll or hate-filled comments are without question going to be cut down.
Since the change, I have seen a bit of a decline with such comments, but they're hardly gone entirely. What's unfortunate, is that because of Google's decision, people who might be entirely upstanding are forced to forego their nickname for their real one.
Over the weekend, one Redditor rather brilliantly said: "I have built up a small following on YouTube and I prefer to keep that persona as-is. I don’t want those followers peeking into my personal life. That’s the beauty of it, I COULD have a second identity."
While I don't think people should create a fake identity just for the sake of trolling, it does make a lot of sense that you wouldn't want people having such easy access to your real-life profile. These are online forums, after all, not the local gathering place where you might actually strike up a friendship. Above, I mentioned YouTube's comments sections are some of the worst around - would you really want those commenters to have such easy access to your social networking profile? I'm thinking not.
At this point, it seems highly unlikely that Google will backtrack on its account merging decision, but that hasn't stopped thousands of people from taking to Google's product forums to voice their displeasure. This is a perfect example of what can happen when Google makes a move that it wants to make - not one that its users want it to make. But when you are such an enormous power, operating some of the biggest Web services in the world, it looks like you can begin to care less about what your customers want.