Google is currently testing out a new “like” button for YouTube so users will be forced to join Google+ if they want to give videos a thumbs up rating. If you aren’t logged in, you can still watch videos, but you can’t rate them. Not everyone is seeing this button change yet (for example, I still have the old like button), but more and more people are starting to notice this change.
If you haven’t seen it already, celebrity blogger and Star Trek alum Wil Wheaton recently posted a pretty strongly-worded message to Google on Tumblr after becoming aware of the new button:
Oh, go f*** yourself, Google. This is just as bad as companies forcing me to “like” something on Facebook before I can view whatever it is they want me to “like.”
Just let me thumbs up something, without forcing me to “upgrade” to G+, you d***heads.
He elaborated upon that rant in a longer post on his blog, saying,
By crippling functionality on sites Google owns (like YouTube) and forcing users to “upgrade” to a service that they may not want or need to get that functionality back, Google is making a huge and annoying mistake.
Amen to that. Google+ is not dead, but I’m guessing the company has been disappointed with this network so far. Based on the hype when it initially launched, I think they expected it to take over Facebook and perhaps even Twitter. While Google+ isn’t a failure (yet), it also hasn’t really done those things. Super intelligent, long conversations possible on Google+, but the general public is still sticking with Facebook for now, at least for the most part. Does that mean Google+ can never succeed? No. But at the moment, they’re fighting a losing battle and making poor decisions.
Google is like a cornered animal. Instead of being smart and coming up with a good get away plan, they’re just peeing all over in fear and charging at your face snarling, both of which are not good options.
The Google+ button on YouTube is an attempt to force people to use their network if they want to continue using a service they love (YouTube). But forcing people on the internet to do anything typically doesn’t work out very well.
Beyond that, Google isn’t seeing the big picture. Will some people break down and join Google+ if it’s necessary for YouTube liks? Maybe. But they aren’t going to use the platform in most cases. They’re just doing it because they have a gun to their back. They’re joining so YouTube is still functional. And those who don’t join Google+? They’re simply going to stop liking videos. That’s bad news for content creators, and what’s bad for the people putting videos online is bad for YouTube in general. Fewer likes = less funding for content creators = fewer videos = less traffic.
Assimilation by force never goes very well. On the other hand, if you create ingenious products and tools with the consumer in mind, people will be begging to join your ranks. Look at Pinterest. Millions upon millions of users have joined over the past few months and not one of them has been forced.
I think Neil Gaiman said it best in his reply to Wil’s post:
I wish Google would leave the Social Network thing to others. When Google does what it does, and does it well, it changes the world. When it rides bandwagons, it’s irritating.
Google has amazing abilities. Why do they have to take over every part of the Internet? Why be a jack of all trades when you already are the master of one?
I sincerely hope that Google rethinks this Google+ YouTube button. They can still put such a button there – just give us a way to like without connecting as well. I think that’s a fair compromise. But even better would be to simply leave the like button as it is currently. I’m on board with changes when they’re good, but this one just plain stinks.
What do you think of the new Google+ button on YouTube? If Google makes this change permanent, will you sign up for/log into Google+ so you can use it? Or will you just avoid rating videos from now on?
Original image (sans text) via thms.nl at Flickr’s Creative Commons.