Google has been slammed for its handling of its updated YouTube video commenting system, and for giving malicious users free rein to post links to phishing sites and spam.
Content creators and one of YouTube's co-founders have rejected the changes, which require commenters to use a Google+ account in order to post comments.
When Google unveiled the changes last week, the firm said it wanted "comments you care about to rise to the top", but so far many of the site's most popular videos have been plagued with shortened URLs linking to spam, so-called "screamers" - websites which play loud noises to scare users - and phishing sites. Previously, YouTube's comments were mostly shown in chrononlogical order rather than through any sort of priory algorithm.
Previously, URLs were blocked entirely from comments, but with Google's latest change, any links can be posted. Furthermore, an increased character limit meant users were able to post scripts of entire Shakespeare plays without issue.
Comments that receive many replies appear to rise to the top of the section, resulting in comments that receive many angry responses from users gaining as much priority as those which promote discussion.
Sean Sullivan, security analyst at F-Secure, told V3 that while spammers and scammers are making hay while the sun shines, the long term benefits of doing so are limited due to the high cost in terms of time and effort in creating fake accounts.
He added: "Malware gangs that have infected computers, and thus have access to Google+ profiles will sell that access to the spammers. After too much spam or malware is pushed via the account, the Google+ profile will likely be suspended."
YouTube design changes have often caused uproar, but its latest update has gone further and looks to have damaged its relationship with its content producers, who share a chunk of their advertising revenue with Google. Businesses that host videos on YouTube in an attempt to increase their company's reach have been impacted too. Of F-Secure's YouTube channel, Sullivan said: "If the videos weren't embedded on our blog, I'd just delete the whole damn channel."
Many of the site's most prolific creators – most of whom make their living from producing content on the site – have completely disabled comments after becoming unable to deal with the deluge of inappropriate and unmanageable comments. They include the site's most popular channel, owned by Swede Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg (15 million subscribers) and Rocket Jump (6.6 million subscribers).
Well, there's currently no way to successfully block virus links in YT comments so I'll be disabling them on new vids until there is.— Stuart Ashen (@ashens) November 10, 2013
YouTube co-founder Jared Karim returned from eight years of silence on the site to post his first ever comment, which read: "Why the f*** do I need a Google+ account to comment on a video?" Karim founded the site alongside Chad Hurley and Steve Chen in 2005, and holds the honour of having uploaded YouTube's very first video. The site was bought by Google in 2006 for $1.65bn.
A petition to return YouTube's comments system to its previous form reached more than 89,000 votes on Monday. V3 contacted Google for comment on the matter, but had not received a reply at the time of publishing.
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