YouTube Pushes for Transparency in Comments

Ever wonder who those people are making rude, negative comments on YouTube behind the “security” of a user name?

If the video-sharing site has its way, you may have to wonder no longer.

According to a report by Mashable, YouTube is urging its users to use their full names when commenting on, and uploading, clips. The alternative for the screen name associated with YouTube would include a picture and full name from a user's Google+ account. If the option is declined, a reason for doing so must be chosen on the site. (Google purchased YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006.)

In a blog addressing the forthcoming changes on YouTube, engineer John Fisher writes, “This will give you more options for how your videos are seen and discovered on YouTube. However, we realize that using your full name isn’t for everyone. Maybe people know you by your YouTube user name. Perhaps you don’t want your name publicly associated with your channel. To continue using your YouTube user name, just click 'I don’t want to use my full name' when you see the prompt.”

Social media has flourished partly because of the ability of those who use it to remain anonymous. While some voluntarily reveal their names, many freely give their opinion, good or bad, behind the wall of a created user name. It has provided an open forum to post negative comments with the safety of not receiving any repercussions.

Aside from a potential free speech firestorm, this begs the question whether YouTube’s efforts to influence commenters to reveal themselves will lead to more transparency—and civility—between brands and consumers on social media. Brands have used other social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook as a way to connect with consumers and listen to their wants and needs. While YouTube has not been the primary social media option for organizations, this new transparency—if it works—may make it a more hospitable platform.

Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson