YouTube tugging on users' cloak of anonymity

The Internet has always been a place to speak your mind--even, and sometimes especially, if you don't reveal exactly whose mind that is. Now, one of the players who helped weave the Web's cloak of anonymity is both adding new measures to further anonymity where needed while tugging at the loose threads to pull it apart when that's a better alternative.

YouTube, an item on the company's Web site said, has become among the first to launch face blurring technology. Additionally, the Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) service is encouraging other users, when possible, to step from behind the curtain and let the sun shine on their identity.

Anonymity, the site said, is precious and important in some instances such as when supplying news and human rights footage from around the world would prove potentially harmful to the news sources. And, of course, in less stressful situations as well.

"Whether you want to share sensitive protest footage without exposing the faces of the activists involved, or share the winning point on your 8-year-old's basketball game without broadcasting the children's faces to the world, our face blurring technology is a first step towards providing visual anonymity for video on YouTube," the Web item said. "Visual anonymity in video allows people to share personal footage more widely and to speak out when they otherwise may not."

Meanwhile, many YouTube contributors don't need, and shouldn't use, anonymity, a blog by YouTube software engineer John Fisher suggested.

YouTube, therefore, is providing users with the option to start using their real names and even to hook up their Google Plus profile with their YouTube channel, a CNET story said, reporting on the blog.

The blog item noted that baring your name along with your soul may not be everyone's cup of tea but it will provide more options for how videos are seen and discovered.

CNET's take is a bit less flexible, noting that "it behooves the service to prod people to use their real names" because the "video platform is notorious for having anonymous commenters leave long chains of offensive comments."

For more:
 - see the YouTube announcement
 - read the CNET story

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