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back to article Google muzzles political dissidents with YouTube ID tweaks

As recently as February this year, Google allowed its users to sign up to its revenue-challenged video sharing website YouTube using a pseudonym. In fact, Mountain View was so proud of that option that its director of privacy, product and engineering, Alma Whitten, penned a blog post in which she pointed out the importance of …

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Facepalm

not the only one

There's more locations to share your videos and i think google is skating on thin ice with this one. force users in a direction they'd rather not go and they will take their business elsewhere.

It's happened before and i don't really get why google would do this, surely they understand what could await them?

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Anonymous Coward

You say that.

But people are lazy and don't like change.

Plus youtube is synonymous with online video. Ask any joe blogs to name a video sharing site, pretty much everyone will come up with it, first answer.

Google can do what they like here and they know it.

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Facepalm

Definitely not the only one

I'm not sure how many people will move from youtube, but certainly this is an opportunity for another video sharing website to try to grab more subscribers.

I agree yes, google is skating on thin ice.

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Silver badge

I've noticed

that Vimeo seems to be popping up in a lot of sites with embedded videos. It appears to be the YouTube alternative of choice these days, and I can see it becoming as big if not bigger as more people realise that YouTube is no longer what it was.

Remember before Google, Yahoo was the king of search. They got replaced by Google because the latter gave people what they wanted - a search engine that produced relevant results instead of paid ones. In the same way, the likes of Vimeo could well replace YouTube by simply giving people what they want, in this case anonymity.

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And this month Mathew, my real name is Aaron Aardavrk

Yes it really is, well at least it was when I cleared out my Google cookies and set up a new account. Since then my real name has reverted back to what it was before. Next month I think I'll be Barry Bignob for a few minutes.

Here in the UK your real name is what you chose it to be and you don't have to go through any hoops for it to be so. It may be illegal to drive if you don't update your driving license, and you should inform the taxman etc but you can call yourself anything you want at any moment.

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Joke

@Natalie Gritpants:10:18 GMT

"...may be illegal to drive...

.....call yourself anything you want at any moment..."

___________Call yourself Ataxi.

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Thumb Down

Dear Natalie Aardvaark

Google (and its ilk) do not track just through cookies. They have a huge enough chunk of information on your browsing history, TCP/IP stack fingerprints from your machine which identify the OS (and even hardware), your IP addresses, etc. They have all of your posts, favourite idioms, favourite grammar mistakes and favourite spelling mistakes.

That would have been worthless for an "engineering company". However, google first and foremost is not an "engineering company", it is a "mathematical company" and more specifically one that breathes, eats and sh*ts Bayesian Statistics and conditional probability. In fact they do not even need to _KEEP_ that data on your. They can throw a seemingly random collection of junk into a number cruncher and interesting stuff comes out on the other side.

Trust me, there is a matrix of conditional probabilities somewhere deep inside which groups similar profiles for this exact reason. At this particular moment in time it is used mostly for benign purposes like minimizing the computation on what ad to shovel down your throat. However, in a few years as the natural evolution of "you are what you eat" takes place and advertising industry scumbags eat the company from within it will be used for other stuff as well. One day it _WILL_ be used to ensure that Natalie Aardvaark, Natalie HotGrits and Aaron Aardvaark are all fed the _SAME_ correct ads and their personal and private data is sold as _ONE_ person to the correct scumbag.

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Gimp

But Samuel L Jackson

Is still in da'house! When Samuel L. Jackson tells you to go the go the fuck to sleep, YOU GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeKxIaG_f_c

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FAIL

Wankers

Instead of announcing what they were doing, they gave me the runaround for an hour, trying to log in into my accounts that I knew I hadn't changed.

After a lot of tries I suddenly could log in as if nothing had happened.

Certified Made-in-America Cock-Up.

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FAIL

Goodbye, privacy

This is truly scary. I can live without Facebook. Living without Google — which provides me a tiny income via ads! — will be way, way harder.

I guess that my Open Letter to Larry Page should be extended to all services, not just Google Plus: http://gwynethllewelyn.net/2011/07/13/open-letter-to-googles-larry-page/

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Alien

I can't help but wonder...

... if there's some link, however tenuous and/or unprovable, between this shift and the NSTIC so-not-an-ID-card ID card.

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Alert

Why...

...do people act as if Facebook and Google have some kind of moral imperative to provide anonymity?

They provide a service - social networking. It is not their obligation to shape the nature of that service in order to be more useful to .000001% of their users. Google and Facebook do not advertise a terrorism networking service, and they are under no more obligation to provide one than El Reg is.

The fact that people *are using* a service for something does not mean that the service provider *is obligated to continue* providing that service the same way.

Interestingly, El Reg has run similar articles in the past about some company / website doing the same thing with a less noble clientele involved, and the response was precisely opposite. But, as disconcerting as it is, Google and Facebook (and Twitter / MySpace / whatever other flavor-of-the-month social site) are simply not morally required to ensure that their product continues to meet the needs of any given user base, no matter how small.

If they get into the business of freedom-fighter-protection, it opens a massive can of worms. How secure? How anonymous?

And then what about the outraged response when a sex offender goes on a grooming rampage? All of a sudden the social sites will be evil bastards for providing a 'molester service'. This is a no-win situation - but there are a hell of a lot more sex offenders than freedom fighters, and the enemies of sex offenders are much better placed to raise hell.

It's tempting to jump in on the side of a good cause, but there are much broader consequences for going down this road (eg, criticizing businesses for not providing, or ceasing to provide, a service useful to a good cause). In the end, these are for-profit businesses, not public services; expecting them to act as the latter will, applied across other categories, set a precedent with consequences much more complex than "help the rebels or don't".

(PS: In Google's case, the self-congratulatory spree mentioned above was indeed bad judgment - for the same reasons I mentioned above.)

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So much nonsense, so little time...

1) ".000001% of their users"

Source for this figure?

2) "The fact that people *are using* a service for something does not mean that the service provider *is obligated to continue* providing that service the same way."

Naturally, but making drastic changes to your business model is not usually a good economic idea.

3) "And then what about the outraged response when a sex offender goes on a grooming rampage? "

On Youtube??? Straw man.

Quite honestly, what is wrong with providing a useful service, even though it may be helping a good cause?

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@David W.

The moment you tried to claim it was a good idea to give up privacy because of potential sex offenders, your argument lost all credibility.

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Facepalm

@teapot

1)

Does anyone read ".000001%" and read anything but "vanishingly small percentage"? Do you demand backup number when someone says there's a one-in-a-million chance they'll get a date with Mila Kunis?

2)

My entire point was that this is a business decision and not a moral one. But the response here and elsewhere - and the title of the article - suggest outrage on a moral basis, rather than, "This is dumb business".

3)

Again, you seem to be taking things literally. My point was this - if you're running Google's social network, and some guy uses anonymity for nefarious purposes (phone hacking, terrorism, child molestation, molesting the phones of terrorist children, etc etc) you will surely be pilloried in the press for your moral failings - just as Google is now being pilloried by THIS press for the opposite reason.

My argument - and again, I thought it self-evident, given that I repeated it rather a lot - was general-case, not youtube-specific. I do not expect molesters to groom children in video comments - for one thing, it's well known that youtube comments are unintelligible (citation not needed; check for yourself) so they would be useless for grooming, persuading, hinting, or in general any kind of suggestive operations.

And finally, no, nothing is wrong with providing a useful service that helps a good cause. I repeatedly stated that anonymous calling-out of tyrannical despots is a Good Thing - perhaps you missed it amidst the nonsense. But the response to a company altering its services - be it good business or bad; that's not the point - should not be outrage or moral indignation.

Unless you own stock in the company and feel that the decision is *so* bad that the company has abandoned its fiduciary responsibility to shareholders. *Then* you can be outrageously morally indignant.

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Anonymous Coward

Because they have provided them in the past.

Me, I have three FB accounts. So much for the trackability argument. George* might actually be my real name, but that doesn't get you anywhere if that's all you know about me from my Reg postings. On another blog, if I posted under my real name, nobody would know who I was. Post under my alias and I'm good to go.

*As an example only. What you think I'm dumb enough to post anon and then use my reg posting name?

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Silver badge
Joke

___________________________________________________________________________________________________I

Dear Mr and Mrs Google,

Unfortunately, my parents *really* did chose to name me "Michael".

Yours sincerely,

Mr Mouse.

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"Common name" and "real name"

I would imagine that common name is the name you go by and real name is that on your passport. They're often different due to divorcees keeping their married names, shortening "Robert" to "Bob" and all manner of other reasons. The systems I work with have sets of columns for each.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Common name

Common name is used in identity management usually to refer to the concatenation of your given name and surname. In other words it is your full name.

However, whatever nomenclature they choose to use the content it is only as good as what they think is realty and good luck to them if they want to verify the ID of a UK citizen who can call themselves whatever they like so long as it's not with intent to defraud.

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WTF?

I was happy being me in my Google profile...

now that they want to force me to be me I no longer choose to. As above, I cleared cookies and then changed my name. Google now knows me as "Clint Toris".

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Muchadoaboutbuggerall

My friend - a Mr. Chainsaw - was blocked from Facebook for years, no arguments about it being his stage name were any use, or that there were other users already on Facebook with the same surname.

Google+? No problem.

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Black Helicopters

re: making it more difficult to be AC on Google

I'll get my tinfoil hat.

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Bronze badge

I bet they get sued

by transsexuals.

Robert (call me Rhona) Carnegie

(Actually, don't)

I am not the man with two very substantial public profiles. But I could be if I wanted to.

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Why...?

@David W.:

-- This is a no-win situation - but there are a hell of a lot more sex offenders than freedom fighters, and the enemies of sex offenders are much better placed to raise hell. --

This sounds like a bizarre statement. I realize that there are not yet heads on pikes on Capitol Hill over the Patriot Act renewal, but I wonder just how many such incidents it will take before a fair number of "Freedom Fighters" pass the fear/duty threshold and take action. Of course, that's counting only U.S. freedom fighters. And for "better placed", I'd suggest that even in these days of swat teams for copyright infringers, the actual army is capable of raising more hell than the vigilantes and "Moral Majority".

And I suspect that you are counting everybody who ever watched a X-rated video or read an Evergreen Press book as a Sex Offender, to get that side of the ratio up.

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Coat

Argh

I think you've misunderstood me.

I'm really not sure what you *are* saying in your reply, but my point was this - providing anonymity helps both good (freedom fighters) and bad (people who have read an Evergreen Press book).

So in this case, you have a choice:

a) Retain anonymity. In this case, freedom fighters and Evergreen Press book-readers are both happy; people who support freedom fighters are happy, and people who oppose Evergreen Press book-readers are very unhappy.

b) Ditch anonymity. Now you've made the book readers and the fighters upset. But the book readers won't create much of a stir for obvious reasons, and the freedom fighters are thousands of miles away and rather busy regardless.

The negative fallout for ditching anonymity is non-zero - articles like this and some others have happened. But it's *nothing* compared to the fallout for retaining it and being tarred (as MySpace was) as 'molester friendly'.

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Bronze badge

Now THERE'S an interesting question...

"Furthermore, Google has an optional request for individuals to provide photo ID to reactivate disabled accounts."

Would it count as falsifying a government document if I told Google that my name was Ringo Fonebone and provided them with a (Photoshopped) scan of my ID that showed that name...?*

That ACTUAL legal ID, after all, is still intact and unchanged.

...Whether it would violate Google's Ts & Cs would, of course, depend on how that were written...

* Not that I would *EVER* think of doing such a thing, of course...!

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title

I refuse therefore I can no longer login to my youtube account to post anything or comment.

I've had a gmail account for many many years; far before google buzz and my gmail account says that I can turn buzz off even though I never turned it on. I was there before buzz was.

I thought after the buzz blowup with one of googles best caught red-handed by buzz being connected to washington that buzz was no longer on by default but I guess that's not for everyone.

The google mentality seems to be one wildly incompatible with the end-user.

I would compare it to the old free webhosts of the 90's. Let google not forget where it's revenue stems from. If they blow that one they might up and disappear all together.

It never came from forcing anyone to do anything.

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Devil

Who cares?

I'm getting by just fine with fake names in both Facebook and Google. As long as you make the name plausible and don't allow any image of yourself to be linked to it* then there really is no difference between this and using an obviously made up pseudonym. It has the added benefit of you being able to control who is able to find you online. Google's "you will be assisting all people you know" line is utter bullshit. If you don't have anyone in your past who you'd rather wasn't able to contact you then you aren't alive.

I'm no fan of Google and Facebook. If they were both to explode into a million squelchy pieces tomorrow then I'd be the first to cheer, but frankly this is a non-story. Of COURSE they're bastards - they're corporations! Anyone who expects a corporation to have a conscience is an idiot.

* if you really are THAT serious about your privacy then you should be doing this already.

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Anonymous Coward

"Anyone who expects a corporation to have a conscience is an idiot."

"The Register, its subsidiary sites and all their contents are copyright © 1998-2011, Situation Publishing. All rights reserved. All third-party trademarks are recognised. ®"

I'm sure that everyone at El Reg is thrilled to have your support and confidence.

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FAIL

@David W.

Recognising other peoples trademarks is not an issue of conscience, it's an issue of not getting sued.

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Silver badge
Joke

What truely amazes me about this new policy

is how many people are named "Bigus Dickus"

(I have a gwate fwend in wome named Bigus Dickus)

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Boffin

This is certainly disturbing, but is it true?

I, just now, for the first time ever, signed up for a YouTube account, and gave nothing more identifying then a non-Google webmail address. (Well, and my IP address I suppose.)

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FAIL

Not right or fair when dealing with politics.

Not matter your background or heritage or race or credd if someone says anything against lets say there is a facbook page page up and people are replying with nasty remarks.

If those people leaving nasty replies equal in nastiness as those who created the page and if the founder of facebook does not like it then people get banned.

Lets says the vile froth going back and forth is really nasy between lets say a good example would be muslims VS jews. Ok and lets say many people supported the french cartoonist to create cartoon offending muslims. I am ok with that just as logn as the cartoonist also insults jews. So anyway If a group of people dish out vile hatred at a people and people can not resort to comebacks or say anything in defense of their own religion then lets say a lowly admin who knows facebook founder personally and he bans and disables the muslims but not any jews then yes I see a MAJOR problem and it has happend in real life.

So I not really taking any sides of the issue and explain my views how the cartoonists action were not normal and not very humane I got banned as well.

But I am ok with that. I see them for what they are. Farcebook has not only a pro israel image to keep up but they must promote their neutered .com site to always fall in favor of jews no matter what and no matter the occasion.

this isnt about hatign on muslims or being anti semite but when I try to set an example back at the cartoonist supporters to whome they support then they got all flabbergasted like how could I say a thing. Well it boils down to human decency. How humane of a human are you?

You allow frothing madness bombs on muslims head but take that same froth of madness and reverse it and I mention that ok lets put the onus on the christian and no do not get mad because you do not want the musiims mad because it is just a cartoon?

Ok let me take your daughters picture and put it in a glass of urine with a upsidedown cross and now I have called it ART..... It is art now and a form of free speech. NO!!!! do not get angry at me as you did not want me angry at a muslim cartoon.

So the lack of empathy on both sides creates drama and this is what I am pointing out and I was called out saying what I said was a low blow....... HUH???? that muslim cartoon was a low blow...... you try to claim societal superiority by making fun of someone else and now I do the same to you and you get all bent out of shape.......

So anyway I see how how facebook is run by neocons and the warmonger factory.

The lack of human decent respect all people of all religions not only should get but demand it.

If you step on people for fun and profit but cry when peopel step on you then it seems you need to grow a pair.

So to the FACBOOK admins, Go put that bomb on your head and please do not defuse it. Please let it go off as your left hand does not know what the right hand is doing.

Facebook admins=sorry excuse for a human being.

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Anonymous Coward

Wha-hey?

"Ok let me take your daughters picture and put it in a glass of urine with a upsidedown cross and now I have called it ART..... It is art now and a form of free speech. NO!!!! do not get angry at me as you did not want me angry at a muslim cartoon."

If your daughter is a cartoon who has been dead for thousands of years, your analogy is spot on.

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IT Angle

Hmmm

Ok make it mother Mary.

Either way its about something you care deeply about that moves you.

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This is a serious tangent, but just to make a point...

Perhaps you've heard about the upset regarding circumcision going on in the U.S., especially out in California? Some of that protest material is being labeled "anti-semitic." Of course, they are, taken as a whole*, really no more anti-semitic than the earlier Muhammad cartoon protests were anti-Muslim. Even if they were, it would just demonstrate my ultimate point - Facebook as a platform doesn't provide any special protection to the Jewish community that they don't provide to the Muslim community. Frankly, they can't afford to do so - they'd get roasted over the coals if they did.

-d

* I haven't read it all, and there's a few idiots in every bunch, so I don't doubt that SOME of it is anti-semitic - just a very small minority.

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Go

So? What's your point?

Create an online persona...maybe more than one Sure you have to invest a little time and effort, very little, but just do it if you're concerned about privacy. Or for that matter want to keep your 3rd grade English teacher from grading your comments.

For instance Holden McGroin. But that one is already taken. Maybe Mickleson C. Mouse. Grabbin Mahare. Easy as pie. Oh sorry Ephrem Zachary Aspie has been taken too.

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Alert

@AC I can't help but wonder...

"... if there's some link, however tenuous and/or unprovable, between this shift and the NSTIC so-not-an-ID-card ID card."

That's it -- Genius! Barack Obama, or those shadowy figures he represents are desperate to move to an internet ID system.

They've obviously had a quiet word with Google to implement something like this through the backdoor.

see - Obama Eyeing Internet ID for Americans -

http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-501465_162-20027837-501465.html

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Anonymous Coward

I'm not quite sure how serious you are...

... and honestly I'm not quite sure just how serious I was. Not entirely serious and not entirely joking, but... anyway, on with the show.

The problem with this sort of tin-foil mad-hattery is twofold: First, finding hard evidence. Second, even if you find such, people'll still think you're paranoid. Unfortunately, being paranoid does not mean they're not out to get you. Which brings us back to point the first.

Though I'm anonymous I'm not anonymous, so perhaps someone else can point anonymous to this worthy if elusive target. As I think that anonymous would be just the vehicle to kick this one into the open with. So to speak.

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Big Brother

Happened some time ago ...

This happened, at least for GMail, some five or six weeks ago.

A while before that I experimented to see if an account could be created with no ID whatsoever. It could.

I then needed to check again (to try to get a handle on some "strange" e-mails) and things had changed. You still did not need to give another e-mail address for contact. Indeed. Google told you that you did not have to. But then, after negotiating the captcha, Google required a contact 'phone number for a recorded message or SMS giving a verification code. The reason given for this was that there had been "suspicious activity on your account."

Ad it still works that way.

How odd that there's no "suspicious activity" if you DO give and alternative address.

Google wants that contact information but cannot even be honest about the reason.

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Stubbornly say NO..

The trick with youtube and Google+ is to NOT connect them to a Gmail account. Therein is where your identity is nailed like a butterfly on a collection board. I use Gmail as an online storage box for my digital art and no one has that address but me..

As fate would have it, I possess an ancient youtube cookie - several actually - gleaned from my living room computer, long-repurposed as a jukebox, which doesn't expire for another decade and believe me, I've backed them up and exported 'em across all the browsers I use.

Oh sure, youtube *wanted* me to connect my identity 'dots', months ago, so I don't understand the 'heads up' on that change now - seems a bit late - but I kept ignoring or closing the nag-pages and eventually it stopped and I'm on my merry with separate accounts *still*.

As far as the google network knows, I do not have a Gmail account.

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Black Helicopters

Wrong Tool

Service providers cannot be expected to provide a neutral or anonymous service in a marketplace and / or political and technical environment that favours bias and accountability.

It seems like these dissidents, or whatever should be using freenet or something. That is what it is for.

It would still require somebody to post a link to whatever it was on freenet to the WWW in order for it to become available to a huge audience though.

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IT Angle

Just imagine!

I'm sorry but your job application has been rejected because you do not have a google+ or facebook account and all of our employees require online identification!

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The article and the comments are implying a motive

Even back when Google bought YouTube in the first place, they said that eventually YouTube would be tied to the same ID as the rest of the Googleverse. This was even more certain when YouTube replaced Google Video. I don't see any overt attempt to expose users or revoke their anonymity. (Although this might be a side effect) Solution: get a throwaway Gmail account.

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