Google does not give up: YouTube next social network?

Martin Brinkmann
Aug 25, 2016
Updated • Jan 4, 2018
Companies, Google, Youtube

Google tried to establish a social networking site several times in the past to complete with the almighty Facebook.

But even the company's latest endeavor in the social space, Google Plus, did not work out as planned. If you consider that Google went all in that time, forcefully integrating Google Plus in many of the company services, and pushing it on its prime properties such as Google Search, it is not far-off  to call Google Plus a failure.

One of the properties graced with forceful Google Plus integration was YouTube. Google made the decision to replace YouTube's commenting system with Google Plus, angering millions of YouTube users in the process.

Google decided to abandon the Google Plus project some time ago. While it is still available, traces of Google Plus on other Google properties are slowly being removed again.

The company has not given up yet on conquering the social networking space though. Its latest plan? Use a billion user site that already exists for that.

youtube social network

That site is YouTube, and if reports are correct, it could soon get a lot more social on the site.

YouTube Backstage

VentureBeat reports that Google may plan to introduce an internal feature called Backstage to YouTube that lets users share photos, links, text posts, videos, and polls with their subscribers.

Google may launch this as a limited trial for select YouTube accounts first and may go from there. According to VentureBeat, Backstage will be visible next to the Home and Videos tabs on YouTube, and posts made to channels will appear in subscriber feeds and notifications.

Subscribers may reply to posts through various means including posting videos of their own, but also by text or images.

Backstage will introduce new types of posts to YouTube. Google plans to differentiate between regular videos and Backstage videos. The latter allows channels to push videos only to subscribers and not to users discovering the channel through search or other means.

Backstage is an internal project currently and it is unclear if and when it will be made available. While YouTube is highly popular when it comes to video publishing and watching, it lacks in the social department. While users may post comments under videos or channels, there is little in terms of communication going elsewhere.

There is a send message option when you open the about page of a channel, but it is almost hidden from sight.

Closing Words

Adding more social components to YouTube, even if only for a limited number of channels and publishers in the beginning, may improve interaction on the site.

It is unclear how the move will impact Google Plus, but seeing the service being reduced to a crumble, it would not surprise me one bit if Google would announce its retirement in the near future.

As far as I'm concerned, I go to YouTube to watch videos, not to communicate. That's my personal preference though, and judging from the large number of comments on the site, others see it differently.

Now You: What's your take on this?

Google does not give up: YouTube next social network?
Article Name
Google does not give up: YouTube next social network?
If rumors are to be believed, Google plans to introduce a feature called Backstage on YouTube that adds social networking features to the site.
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  1. Xircal said on August 29, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Hi scylla,

    Could you possibly post the URL to the UK charity site where you had a problem with Firefox? I’m just curious to see what it looks like in Firefox.

    1. scylla said on August 29, 2016 at 11:15 pm

      I won’t name ‘n shame it, however it _looks_ perfect in FF, it just doesn’t respond. We all have trouble with it, “they” did a rewrite, possibly to save money, and it’s been like pulling teeth, sporadically and frequently, ever since. But Waterfox has been OK since I started using it several months ago.

      1. Xircal said on August 30, 2016 at 4:03 pm

        OK, fair enough.

  2. scylla said on August 27, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    GooglePlus’s integration into YouTube was the single worst development I can remember* in my 15+ year internet history. For one thing, it seemed to introduce technical problems that had never been seen before. In protest at what they perceived to be privacy issues, as well as the inconvenience of G+, some of my ‘friends’ closed their YouTube and GMail a/cs and uninstalled Chrome, but I resignedly toddle on with the easy-to-use video host and keep using Chrome to handle sites that Firefox(Waterfox) has trouble with.

    For my purpose there does need to be a Comments feature on YouTube, as it allows watchers to help with ID-ing critters and discuss behaviour in my wildlife videos (recorded from online webcams, not from The Wild itself, unfortunately ;-) ). The scum who swamp YouTube comments with hate and vile language don’t tend to frequent areas that interest me.

    Other video hosts seem to require a higher-quality of video than is obtainable from many wildlife webcams, situated as they are miles from decent broadband and run, as they often are, by cash-strapped charities.

    *Oops! I forgot Windows10 :o

    1. Xircal said on August 28, 2016 at 2:12 pm

      Why are you using Waterfox if you don’t mind me asking? Firefox is also available in a 64-bit version if that’s the reason.

      1. scylla said on August 28, 2016 at 5:07 pm

        I changed to Waterfox from Firefox after having intractable problems on a badly “written” site that I use daily, it’s a big UK charity and all us users are driven mad by it. I’d already tried other FF off-shoots, so far Waterfox is doing a great job – why that should be, when everything was imported from FF, I’ve no idea – but I’m not very techie, I only follow GHacks in the hope that _some_ useful info will rub off ;-)

  3. James said on August 26, 2016 at 1:26 pm

    Google has only recently announced that Google+ will become a core Google Apps service. The chances of it being retired in the immediate future are very low.

  4. B said on August 26, 2016 at 12:26 am

    Last year they said you could remove G+ from your youtube account but they haven’t done so.

  5. Mikhoul said on August 25, 2016 at 10:17 pm

    There is NO NEED for a new Social Network, it’s oversaturated.

    The BIG problem for users of Googles “free” services including Youtube is that Google stopped to listen their users completely since many years now. All their decisions are not took to fulfill the needs of their users but to primarily MAKE $money$ in shorterm.

    They have no longer a vision as innovative creator, they are just the slave of their shareholders. They live on their “goodwill” from many years ago like Microsoft. Both company’s pretend to know better than their users what user’s want.

    Bref… They don’t care about the needs of users but only about the money to report on the next quarter.

    1. ali said on August 27, 2016 at 4:29 am

      Google just care users the biggest bastard of this planet Mark Zuckerberg the greediest man even seen we spent thousand’s of dollars to increase facebook fans then he dropped post reach and again found method to earn money through boost post.I wish some one just crushed this greedy man social network.I am with google which care people and we all support google to make this possible.

  6. Guest703 said on August 25, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    In the past I have occasionally tried sending a message to a user on YouTube, only to find out that it is not possible. This has been very annoying, so I’d welcome the chance to at least message users privately.

    1. Xircal said on August 25, 2016 at 8:05 pm

      Normally what you’d do is to click their name on YT to take you to their channel. Then click the “About” link and you should be able to see the “Send message” button.

  7. Sophist said on August 25, 2016 at 5:22 pm

    Google is one of the largest companies with some of the brightest people in the world working for them and they still keep making catastrophic failure after failure while riding on the coat-tails of a very small number of successes.

    The commonality between the beloved products/services is that they made a useful quality product of singular purpose, made it public and let users discover they wanted it, then integrated it into a Google master plan. (Gmail, Gmaps, Android, etc… even Google Reader which they could have easily made profitable or integrated if they bothered to try)

    The commonality between the failures is that they made a product/service designed-by-committee to chase a market, leveraged their giant presence to artificially make it “a thing” people should want, and then crammed it down our throats either by PR or by force. (Google+, Google Wave, Google Buzz, YouTube Gaming, etc…)

    A YouTube Social Network will fall into the latter category. The already existing social aspect of YouTube (the comments section) is a sh*tshow most viewers disregard or block outright. After a small number of comments, the social aspect of YouTube goes from thoughtful commentary & feedback to a spam of grey-noise. Then it becomes a haven for trolls, hate speech, and mindless memes This is the exact reason nobody normal bothers with Twitch Chat – it’s completely useless.

    It amazes me how much “spaghetti” Google blindly throws at the wall to see what will stick.

    1. mikef90000 said on August 25, 2016 at 11:16 pm

      IMO most of Google’s ‘bright’ people work in the back actually coding. By contrast all younger large companies populate their front end requirement developing design staffs with the in-your-face social media mentality.

      These overpaid twits have an agenda that purposely minimizes end-user choice. YT took away the critical ‘collections’ feature that let me organize subscriptions into smaller subgroups; now the subscriptions feature is near useless if you have more than a couple of dozen. Their Roku app defines ‘crippled’. All they want is for you to view their intrusive ‘Recommended’ streams.

      All of the photo sharing sites have the identical mentality. They don’t want you to be a publisher with your own grouping structure, they just want to point a ‘stream’ of randomly chosen photos in your face to ‘enjoy, explore and socialize on’.

      The future looks bleak. Mobile device obsessed millenials have been programmed to prefer this unstructured, linear drive-by posting style; apologies to tech savvy millenials who post here. Properly run forums require moderators that companies don’t want to pay for.

      1. mikef90000 said on August 29, 2016 at 11:53 pm

        I intended to use ‘collections’ to group videos of similar interest for ease of navigation and viewing through my Roku device. Using an external website for this purpose would be pointless unless they have a better Roku app (which I haven’t had time to investigate). Just to reduce the YT ‘noise’ level I’ve had to drastically reduce my subscriptions.
        For all of the above reasons I’m not hopeful for any ‘social media’ centric site.

      2. ams said on August 26, 2016 at 10:13 pm

        “All of the photo sharing sites have the identical mentality. They don’t want you to be a publisher with your own grouping structure, they just want to point a ‘stream’ of randomly chosen photos in your face to ‘enjoy, explore and socialize on’. ”

        Good point, but surely that doesn’t hold true across ALL sharing sites. For example, pinterest is “all about” curated collections, yes?

        The removal of “collections” (a feature I never used), how did you cope with the change? Did you begin posting into pages you curate at tumblr or elsewhere, or did you just give up (back away from) the notion of frequently ‘collecting’? FWIW, I just bookmark in browser the yt urls containing videos of interest; I can find (and copy/paste) to recommend suchandsuch if asked, but don’t often actively (proactively?) “share” or “recommend” individual videos.

        “Mobile device obsessed millenials have been programmed to prefer this unstructured, linear drive-by posting style; […] Properly run forums require moderators that companies don’t want to pay for.”

        Yes, I agree. Your observations here closely match my own.

  8. Xircal said on August 25, 2016 at 3:37 pm

    If Google is going to try that then they have to prevent the expletive laden remarks that regularly appear on there. I’m all for freedom of expression, but when the trolls arrive and discussions get hijacked and anyone who disagrees with them is bullied and insulted then it doesn’t make for pleasant conversation.

    Also, the ability to send messages must be carefully controlled to avoid it becoming a medium for radicalism.

  9. JE said on August 25, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    This Model works pretty good for IMGUR. This could work for Google. I comment a lot on Youtube.

  10. google said on August 25, 2016 at 12:53 pm

    If Google want to make a social media. Make it separate account like Youtube was.
    I don’t want to link my work mail account to social media, thanks.

    1. Tom Hawack said on August 25, 2016 at 6:31 pm

      Linking, that’s what it’s all about, following users’ across the Web as their shadow (worse : even at night!).
      That’s also why I lack interest for social networks, at least those hangars populated with half-thoughts, plenty of aggressiveness and hysteria, quite often hatred as well, because the purpose is to follow the member even when he/she left the hangar, always, track the guy, need to know where he goes on the Web, what he likes/dislikes, how long he likes/dislikes etc etc etc …
      Not for me but I don’t judge anyone. Many users like social networks should it be only for the possibility of contacting/sharing quickly with family members far away… it’s not the users which limit my interest but the companies, just can’t stand it …

  11. CHEF-KOCH said on August 25, 2016 at 12:10 pm

    Maybe it’s a gab between G+ an YouTube to interact and to advertise your Videos or something like that. I have doubt’s that they really use that as ‘social’ function.

  12. Anonymous said on August 25, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    After “artwork” with “Photo filter app Prisma”, now “social network” with Google. What imagination.

  13. Nebulus said on August 25, 2016 at 11:32 am

    I’m with Martin on this one. When I go watch something on YouTube, I don’t care about comments or other type of social interactions. But probably a lot of people do, so…

  14. Sp4rkR4t said on August 25, 2016 at 11:12 am

    YouTube has one of the most toxic comments sections on the internet and they want to turn that into a full social network?

  15. Velocity.Wave said on August 25, 2016 at 9:54 am

    If Google REALLY wants to launch an awesome social-networking APP and ecosystem, then they can do it.

    They simply need to lay-off the heavy-handed-in-your-face approach of ramming their app down our throats…

    And instead listen (really listen) to the social-networking needs of a large-spectrum of users, world-wide.

    NEXT… they just need to GENTLY implement the platform/features that most people are looking for, as well as supporting a wide range of other features sought out by various minority groups within that sample they interviewed, and everything will follow from there.

    This is the low-key approach they used with Chrome, Gmail, Android, Chrome-Books, and it worked wonderfully!

    With Chrome, Gmail, Android, Chrome-Books, Google never really sought out to overtly change the world, or ram it down our throats… but instead GRADUALLY, over time, and with great patience, more and more users jumped aboard (without feeling compelled or forced to do so), allowing Google to rise to a dominant or highly-competitive position.

    Google needs to simply do the same with social-networking.

  16. Yuliya said on August 25, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I think comments are there just for people who can’t watch a video without posting a comment, or some interaction, etc. Hence the social thing. I don’t know if they realise how less it matters and that nobody is going to see that coment, but I guess it makes them feel better. At around 200 comments, the section becomes completely useless, and I don’t know how many people are clicking on the ‘show more comments’ button to begin with.

    YouTube comments are not useful at all in the first place, it’s just a bunch of twelve year olds spamming memes and other nonsense. Plus some actual spam too (‘I did a cover of this song xD lelelel chek on mah channel!’ -tier kind of stuff). I don’t know who would want this in the form of a PM as well.

    1. Anonymous said on August 29, 2016 at 2:52 pm

      THe only comments i use on YT are the 1st ones IF they are placed by the poster.
      usually it has some more text clarification over the video in it.
      the rest I don’t bother with.

    2. Tom Hawack said on August 25, 2016 at 10:47 am

      I entirely agree on the sociology of Youtube comments; I’ve disabled them with an adequate adblock filter added to uBlock Origin.

      But commenting in the wild and exchanging comments and videos in the more responsible and implied relationship meant by a social context may be two different things, even if I’m not sure responsibility is the right word when I’m told what is written on Facebook and to a lesser degree on Twitter and other social hangars.

      In my case I’d fear only that some users could be tempted to reserve their videos for their circles which would be a pity for at least for — say — 10% of the productions (ratings are so personal aren’t they?); missing the video where the guy gets bitten by a cat and saved by a dog wouldn’t be a big miss here.

      Anyway, “Google does not give up” is definitely the right (and funny!) wording. I get to wonder if there aren’t areas of creation (wherever) which cannot have true competitors because the winner is the starter and remains ahead unless he commits a very big mistake (like on certain racing car tracks). I’m afraid Facebook is far ahead and that it will be supplanted only if it either vanishes willingly (you bet!) or falls in the trap of a genuine mistake; otherwise it’s bound to leave competitors loose their time. IMHO of course.

  17. seeprime said on August 25, 2016 at 9:08 am

    I don’t believe that anyone outside of Google wants to use YouTube as a social network. I know that I don’t.

    1. Alex said on September 7, 2020 at 10:01 am

      I think it’ll be popular

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