YouTube’s comment section isn’t exactly renowned as a bastion for intelligent discourse. Quite the opposite — YouTube is home to some of the most racist, sexist, offensive, and downright stupidest things ever written. The one thing the section had going for it in the past was a lack of spam comments. You know the kind: Promises to “make $6,000 an hour working from home!” coupled with a malicious link. Since Google took charge of YouTube, it prevented spammers from leaving messages below videos by prohibiting links in the comments section.
But now, YouTube’s floodgates have been opened to spammers. Earlier this month, Google overhauled the YouTube comment system to connect it to Google+, which allows users to post links. Perhaps Google thought that spammers wouldn’t bother creating G+ accounts. But that was a flawed line of thinking, because spammers are probably the only people who don’t find setting up a Google+ account to access another Google service annoying.
YouTube and Google are making attempts to fix the situation. The YouTube comments team, who probably get very despondent about the human condition on a regular basis, wrote a blog post on the YouTube Creators Blog detailing their efforts. “We’ve worked hard to combat the increase in spammy comments,” they wrote. To prevent more spam, they’re trying to boost recognition of bad links and impersonation attempts, as well as their ability to recognize ASCII art (that’s when people post annoying images made from typed characters). YouTube is also changing how long comments are displayed, though it’s not clear how that will impact spammers specifically.
A group of users angry about the comment overhaul are making the situation worse, by posting and re-posting spam that protests the change.
YouTube creators have posted instructional videos about how they can be proactive in the fight against spam, including this one:
The attempts to crackdown on the influx of spammers have been working, and spam has decreased from earlier this month, when the new system was introduced. We’ll see if the company can fix the comment system enough to ameliorate the 215,000 people who signed a Change.org petition asking the company to revert its YouTube system.