Google Takes Aim at Offensive YouTube Comments

Dennis Faas's picture

Google is making changes to the way commenting works for its YouTube videos. The aim is to make it easier to engage in discussion without being bogged down by crude abuse.

Over the years, Google has repeatedly struggled with commenting on the site, particularly on videos that can attract hundreds of thousands or even millions of views.

Many customers have complained about sexist, racist, or other offensive comments that add little to the discussion and drown out any attempt at genuine discussion.

The last major change was part of an attempt to persuade users to sign up for Google's social networking site Google+ and then use their real name rather than a YouTube user name when making posts.

The theory was that people who post under their real identity would feel responsible for what they say online (and restrain themselves). The problem was that many users simply weren't interested in using Google+ and opted out of making the switch.

YouTube Comments System Takes Positive Approach

The new approach uses several different tactics to try and improve the commenting system. The primary strategy puts the emphasis on highlighting useful comments rather than trying to remove offensive ones. (Source:

Users will now be able to opt out of the current system by which all comments are shown in reverse chronological order, meaning the newest ones appear at the top.

Instead, priority will go to posts from the person who created the video, public figures and personalities, and people the current viewer has connected with on Google+. That means the comments shown will vary from viewer to viewer.

Another change is that posts will now appear as threaded conversations, similar to messages in Gmail. That should make it easier to follow when people start replying to one another. (Source:

People who have a Google+ account will now be able to control whether everyone can see and reply to their comments, or just people they are friends with on Google+.

Video Uploaders Get Additional Controls

There will also be new tools for people uploading videos. Right now video uploaders have to choose between blocking comments altogether or manually searching through and removing offensive posts.

With the new system, uploaders can choose to vet every comment before it appears, but can also have comments from certain trusted users appear automatically.

They'll also be able to choose an option by which most comments go online instantly, while those posts containing certain offensive words are either blocked completely or held for review.

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