Google recently made a switch to YouTube that has sent parts of the Internet on fire. Google now requires that if you comment on a YouTube video, another Google property, you must use a Google+ account. This pretty much removes the anonymity aspect of the world’s most popular video site. Anonymity has been the primary complaint around this move as well as forcing people to get Google+ accounts that normally did not have one. However, I think that this was not the reason for the move.
No matter how much you think Google is paving the way for removing anonymity from the Internet, the core functional foundation of the Internet is anonymity, handles, and personas, Google doesn’t care. Even when you look at their participation and information delivery to government agencies at a drop of a hat, this move to Google+ for comments is not about making that easier either.
The only thing Google cares about is money. Google’s entire business is ad-revenue, getting paid for putting up ads and getting a percentage of any link through that paid ad and the only way they can maximize their revenue is to make absolutely sure they are delivering the ads to the people that own the credit cards and make the purchases.
You can post on an anonymous handle and say things that in no way reflect your ‘real world’ persona. That’s the whole point of posting under a character or persona. But in an ad revenue business model that targets ads to your activity, then the ads are being wasted because the real person would never, ever click on those ads.
How do you fix it? Remove the ability to hide your online personas and characters. Hence Google+, your real name, a central historical record that Google can analyze, trend, predict and preset ads and offers that you are most likely to take advantage of. When you do that, Google makes more money as well as their advertisers who in turn pay Google for more ads. Around and around the money goes.
I would like to think Google cares about the content of the comments when it comes to hate, porn, links to viruses, threats and so on. From the view of an individual it looks and feels like they are forcing people to make a decision to post and stand behind it rather than hide behind a fake name. I don’t think this was even on their minds.
Google+ accounts linking to YouTube is for ad revenue and nothing else.
Facebook continually loosening their security options for who can see your posts is not for social interaction but for ad revenue.
Twitter targeting sponsored tweets forced into your timeline isn’t for latest headlines but for ad revenue which will get worse to keep that bloated stock price up.
This is a major inconvenience for the people that spend all their time not only watching videos, blogs (video blogs), but also commenting on them. Conversing with other users, being a community. Most videos eventually disable the ability for users to comment on their videos to stop the crap and hate, others welcome it. Google now wants you to use your real name so they can make more money, that’s it. Look past the names and look more into what benefit do they have for changing the top comments rankings, turning replies into conversations, putting the focus on the people. Why would they do that? Targeted ad efficiency improvement.
At the end of the say your anonymity is a veiled assumption. You are not truly anonymous on the Internet, somewhere on this planet someone can link everything you do back to you. The very small revealing of the NSA activities, and I truly believe that’s just a tip of a much bigger iceberg, should open the eyes to the world that in the digital world we are not walking in the shadows. Even the most popular online anonymized, Tor, has been exposed as being read by the NSA which makes Tor’s vast encryption useless. Thats another post for another time.
Your commenting anonymity disappearing is only providing you protection from your employer or future employer from searching and finding out what a real racist, homophobe you truly are… unless you work for the NSA then they already know.
UPDATE – A little fun
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.