It’s no secret that 2012 has brought a line a transition when it comes to the relation between internet companies and the users who interact. There has been a growing frequency of “trolling”: the act of intentionally provoking controversy or anger in a comment or conversational forum.
The level of hostility on websites such as YouTube, Facebook, and really any website that offers users the opportunity to speak their mind has grown to a level that can’t be ignored. As a result, these companies are finally enacting and trying to fight these egregious figures by exposing their identities. Between this summer and this week, some of the biggest forums are making it harder for users to stay anonymous with their comments in an effort to bring it down.
If you remember back in July, YouTube had started a policy where whenever someone wishes to leave a comment for a video, they would be prompted to connect their YouTube profile to their Google Plus profile. What this would do is show the real name of the individual, thus exposing any sort of contained phobia or hatred they wouldn’t not dare share in the real word (maybe).
The attempt by YouTube was a mere signal that they were starting to get fed up with how many of their videos were turning into pages of fights, hate and downright ignorance. YouTube can’t actually force everyone to leave their real name, so the policy was more of just a prompt rather than a mandate. The comment forums continue to be pretty brutal, and most would be wise to disable comments.
Despite the meager response, Google (who owns YouTube) is spread this same policy out to the Play Store. Whenever someone wishes to review a product (many “reviews” tend to be pretty viscerally written), they will have to connect to their Google Plus account. While no reasons were actually given for this new move, it has been commonly agreed among many sources that bringing down trolling was the main intention.
Another brief example this week is from Facebook, who isn’t letting people vote on policy changes anymore (a comment-based voting system) since they had grown fatigued from the type of comments they were receiving.
So what are the policy changes saying about the companies attitude toward their own users? Can we expect more restrictive measures of interaction for users? Companies like Google and Facebook certainly have a legitimate argument for doing what they have done – many would agree that users are creating a hostile environment that might discourage others from entering and engaging.
YouTube certainly has fallen victim to some of the worst trolling. If I were involved with the brand image of the site, I would be concerned with the already existent reputation of the comment forums being a haven for brutality. This type of impression shows no sign of dying down, especially since the trolling continues.
It would not be very surprising to see further measures by companies to either push for real names to be attached to comments, or to just ban commenting in general. Google, YouTube and Facebook were all founded as a way for people to connect more easily, but they have quickly found that the initial plan was just a fairy tale. People love confrontation, and they love to keep the fight going.
Either prevent interaction, or just adapt to the nature of it all. This is something that Internet companies will have to adjust to in the years to come. The attitude of the status quo isn’t about to change anytime soon.
Author Bio: Ezra Melino is the primary writer for the tech and society blog known as DX 3. He covers the latest happenings an developments from Apple, Google, and a whole mess of other companies as well .