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YouTube breaks silence over Google+ spam fiasco

26 Nov 2013
YouTube is the world's largest video-sharing website

YouTube has responded to user backlash over the implementation of the new, Google+ based video commenting system it introduced three weeks ago, which become overloaded with spam, virus links and lewd drawings.

In a post on its Creators blog, the YouTube comments team insisted the commenting system, which requires users to have a Google+ account in order to post, had solved many problems relating to spam. However, YouTube did admit that it "introduced new opportunities for abuse and shortly after the launch we saw some users taking advantage of them."

The comments team said it had made a number of changes to comments, including "better recognition of bad links", an exploit which allowed users to post shortened links to viruses, spam and "screamer" pages, intended to shock unsuspecting users. It has also made it harder for users to impersonate other YouTube members, and has taken steps to improve the detection of ASCII art (below).

YouTube's latest comments changes have allowed ASCII art

Finally, long comments have also been modified to change how they display. Previously, users were able to post extremely lengthy comments; some had even taken to posting the scripts of entire Shakespeare plays.

"We're moving forward with more improvements to help you manage comments on your videos better," YouTube said, promising new tools for bulk moderation of comments, which it admitted was a "long-standing creator request".

However, the firm has not responded to users calling for the old system to be reinstated. A petition calling for YouTube to remove the Google+ account requirement has reached more than 214,000 signatures. However, as Google looks to consolidate its services into a coherent set of products with Google+ integration, it is unlikely any change will be seen. 

Launched on 6 November, YouTube's new commenting system was designed to spark better and more constructive conversations on the site, which had previously developed a reputation of being full of offensive comments and spam.

However, the new system angered not only the site's everyday viewers, but also caused grave concern for YouTube's biggest stars and creators, many of whom earn a living from advertising revenue generated from their videos. Businesses using the Google-owned YouTube service to promote their company also faced issues such as not being able to properly moderate comments, which has the potential to damage their brand or send viewers to inappropriate pages.

Many YouTube stars disabled comments on their videos until the system was fixed, including Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg, who has more subscribers than any other channel on the site.

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Michael Passingham

Michael Passingham joined V3 as a reporter in June 2013. Prior to working at V3, Michael spent time at computing magazine PC Pro. Michael covers IT skills, social media, tech startups and also produces V3's video content.

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