When Google first revealed its answer to social media giants Facebook and Twitter (News - Alert) in 2011, it was met largely with a fizzle. With membership in Google Plus far underperforming its goals, Google took a somewhat drastic step: much to the chagrin of users, Google (News - Alert) began requiring people to have a Google Plus account to use Google services like YouTube or Google Drive.
Despite immediate backlash from users, Google pressed on with this endeavor for several years. Now, however, Google seems to have finally caved to its users, and will begin to remove Google Plus requirements from its most popular service, YouTube (News - Alert), in the coming months. Bradley Horowitz, vice president of streams, photos, and sharing for Google, says the decision stems mostly from hearing “it doesn’t make sense for your Google Plus profile to be your identity in all the other Google products you use.”
With this in mind, YouTube is slowly changing its platform for uploading and commenting, scaling back the features that depend on Google Plus until none remain. The changes will start immediately: as of today, all comments on YouTube videos will be displayed as originating from YouTube usernames, not Google Plus accounts. Any comments made on YouTube videos will also no longer appear on the user’s corresponding Google Plus page.
These changes are immediate, but more deep-seated changes are on the way in the next few weeks. Within the next month, Google says, users will no longer need a Google Plus account to upload videos, create channels or playlists, or comment on videos. However, it is important that users remain patient: jumping the gun now and deleting a Google Plus account will also delete its associated YouTube channel.
Google wants to make it clear that though it is ending the failed marriage of Google Plus and YouTube, it is not ending its foray into social media altogether. In fact, they are trying to beef up the social aspect of Google Plus by adding improved photo sharing and location services into its popular Hangout feature. The intention is to push Plus as a standalone social network like Facebook (News - Alert), as opposed to one that is tied to another service. While they still lag behind giants like Twitter or Facebook, it will be interesting to see if Google can build on its success with Hangouts to bolster new growth in the Google Plus network.