This week has seen popular online video streaming service YouTube announces changes to its comments feature. What are these changes and what could it mean for online reputation management?
This isn’t the first change YouTube has recently made with its comments management feature. In the latter half of last year YouTube enacted changes which saw users Google+ profiles integrated with their YouTube accounts and comments. Google owns YouTube.
At the time the video streaming service justified this change by asserting that it would make the service more efficient for users. However it proved unpopular with said users; a petition campaign was even mounted to persuade YouTube to drop the policy. It amassed over 200,000 signatures.
The key concern for many users concerned privacy. The way the new system worked was that it made people use their Google+ accounts to make comments on YouTube videos. This caused concerns that their Google+ account would cause them to reveal their identity.
This has certainly proved to be an issue in online reputation management. The nature of a Google+ account means that it often ranks well on Google, as long as it’s effectively optimised with appropriate keywords.
The issue is that this feature could lead to reputation damage because it could identify comments from people that could harm their reputation. Or it could link up inappropriate content (of which there is a lot on YouTube) with their profile name. Because Google+ accounts rank so well, this would then become easily available information.
YouTube has now acknowledged these concerns. In a statement they said that “many of you have told us that you use your YouTube Inbox to manage comments. With the new commenting system moving comment notices to alerts, removing this feature was, well, a bummer.”
They elaborated on their new plans saying that they had “fast-tracked the development of a new comment management page that lets you see, respond to, and moderate your comments all in one place.”
Furthermore, according to the statement, from their central page, users will be able to “easily remove comments, flag comments for spam or abuse, give a thumbs up, or click over to the video watch page and reply.”
Essentially this new feature will allow for greater control of the comments that are associated with a profile. Users will be able to create a ‘blacklist’ of words flagged up in comments for automatic review. It will also allow people to craft a list of which of their Google+ contacts are allowed to comment on their videos.
We have yet to see what effect these changes will have on online reputation management, however the greater degree of control would suggest that it will be a positive one. Greater control over comments decreases the likelihood that unfavourable comments will be associated with the user, maligning their reputation in the process.