One day in 2013, I received an email from Google informing me that YouTube was preparing to fix its notoriously bad comment section. The proposed savior was Google+, then a little over 2 years old. By harnessing people’s real identities and reputations, the thinking went, the most toxic and spammy of commenters would sink to the bottom, and the cream of the comments would rise to the top.
Users revolted, though that was to be expected. Trolls, after all, enjoy their anonymity. The real surprise was that after generating so much angst, Google+-powered YouTube comments never really got much better: people continued to say terrible things under their real names; vibrant conversations rarely surfaced; and popular accounts still found their…
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Author: Casey Newton
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