Google+ And YouTube Get A Divorce


It’s the day that thousands of YouTubers have been waiting for; Google+ has been defeated! After a long hard fight it’s finally admitted defeat and is slinking away back to the shadows.

When Google first announced (rather abruptly, might I add) that to keep using YouTube you now had to sign up for a Google+ account, a lot of people were pissed. I think the overall reaction is quite nicely captured in Emma Blackery’s video “My Thought’s On Google+” a comic little ukulele song with quite a forceful message behind it.

I’ll admit too that I wasn’t overly pleased with the changes. If people wanted to use Google+ in conjunction with YouTube that was fine but it didn’t make sense to force it upon the existing users who had made it clear they didn’t care about Google+ by not signing up when it was released.

Clearly Google had realised that their social media site hadn’t gone down quite as they’d expected. It didn’t obliterate it’s competition like Bebo did to MySpace and Facebook subsequently did to Bebo. Google+ was released, there was a bit of noise while everyone wondered if it was going to become the new Facebook or Twitter, and then it just sort of went away when everyone got on with their lives.

So they tacked it onto YouTube in the hope that forcing people to use Google+ would cause it to gain more popularity. Of course if there’s one thing we know about the Internet, it’s that people hate being told what to do. Google+ went from being a mediocre site that a few people used to a site that pretty much everyone hated.

Despite the backlash, Google did get something out of it and soon after the transition they started bringing out all these stats about how many millions of active users Google+ had. Of course, how many of these “active users” were actually using YouTube and had no idea that they were logged into Google+ at the same time. I’ll freely admit that the day I set up my Google+ account to continue using YouTube, I filled out as little information as possible, switched all my settings to Private and then never bothered looking at my profile again.

That was my way of getting around Google+ but for many people it was the last straw. For years YouTube users have been angry with Google for changing the site. Every time they updated the interface or changed something it almost certainly always made the site more difficult to use. Natrually the look and the design of the site has changed since 2006 and while I don’t think anyone is seriously suggesting we move back to that design, does that mean we should settle for a newer site that is broken?

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”

That accurately describes what Google has been doing with YouTube – updates for the sake of updates. Every few months it seems like they bring out a change which makes the site harder to use on a daily basis. Their audience tells them they don’t like the change, that they prefer things the way they were, or perhaps even going as far to suggest other solutions, but Google don’t listen. Meanwhile the problems with the site that fans and users have been complaining about for years go unresolved.

It’s hardly surprising that nowhere on the site is there a place where you can contact YouTube or Google directly with an issue and get a response. Instead, if you have a problem you have to resort to sending feedback, to which you will never get a reply. Or try the unhelpful help section which is about as likely to solve your problem as staring at a dog turd will.

So what should we take away from Google stripping Google+ away from YouTube. Is this the time to jump around in glee, pointing and shouting “I told you so, Google+ is rubbish! The people won!”. No, we should do the opposite.

For once Google has actually listened to it’s users and for that it should be applauded. Instead of doggedly sticking to their plan, they’ve recognised that Google+ is hurting peoples experience and have stopped forcing it upon their users. If you still want to use it you have the option to do just that, if you want to get rid of it that’s fine too. Rather than making fun of them we should encourage them to listen to their users.

People were pretty outspoken about this whole thing and Google listened, sure it took them some time but better late than never right? Hopefully this is the start of a new chapter for Google and Youtube, one where they actively listen to what their users do and don’t want. Perhaps further down the line they’ll fix the other problems people have brought up.

We shouldn’t be celebrating this “victory” over Google, we should be celebrating the fact that their on the same page as us and maybe now they’ll be more willing to listen. After all they provide us with a website that has sparked the imagination of millions of people over the years and it’s available to us for free. There’s no point continuing to make them an enemy when after all these years they’ve actually seen sense and done what it’s users always wanted.

So well done Google. Thanks for listening to your users and I look forward to your further improvements in the Homepage Feed and the Comments Section.

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