In an apparent move to more closely tie together its social media outlets, YouTube is asking its members to start using real names instead of the descriptive monikers many used when they launched a channel by connecting to Google+.
John Fisher, a software engineer at YouTube, suggested that some users may have outgrown user names like cutepuppies99. Or, he said, users may realize that their friends are missing out on their origami skills because they don't know who is the genius behind origamiboy1981.
"Starting today we're giving you the ability to change how you appear on YouTube, with the option to use your Google+ profile on your YouTube channel," Fisher wrote in the YouTube blog. "One Google-wide identity was something that proved popular with new YouTube users when we began offering it in March, so we are now extending it to existing users."
Change Not Mandatory
Essentially, this means if your current YouTube user name is joeysam87, you can now appear as Joey Sampson -- the full name from your Google+ profile, complete with the space in between. YouTube will also use any photo you've uploaded.
If you prefer not to associate your real name with some comments you've made in the past on videos for whatever reason, you can review your content to see every video, comment or playlist you've ever posted and decide whether or not to tie it to your true identity before making the switch.
"This will give you more options for how your videos are seen and discovered on YouTube," Fisher wrote. "However, we realize that using your full name isn't for everyone. Maybe people know you by your YouTube user name. Perhaps you don't want your name publicly associated with your channel."
A Unified Google Profile
In other words, YouTube will let you continue using your screen name if you don't want to go public. But Brad Shimmin, a principal analyst at Current Analysis, told us he wouldn't be surprised if YouTube eventually moves to make the true names mandatory.
"Google sees a unified profile as a key component of their overall strategy. Already you can do single sign-on for all your Google properties, but there are some differences. Social networks -- consumer and enterprise -- both from the get-go have focused on real identity, not obfuscated identities that we became so accustomed to in special-interest forums," Shimmin said.
"There's really no need for it at this juncture in our society to obfuscate your true identity. It's not the case anymore that you need to protect your identity online by hiding who you are. You protect your identity by ensuring your private information stays private and your identity is only associated with authorized accounts."