Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

Goodbye, Trolls? Google Brings Social Identity to “Play” Web Store.

Web trolls are the absolute worst. And no one knows this more than a company like Google, whose “Play” Web store is populated with nasty user reviews of Android applications.

Seeking to resolve that pesky problem, Google is integrating its Google+ social platform to the Play store, now requiring users to log in to a Google+ account in order to leave feedback on Android apps.

It solves Google’s identity problem, much like how Facebook made its “Comments” plugin available to outside Web sites that were tired of seeing their comments sections polluted with vitriolic posts. The thesis: Internet trolls flourish behind pseudonyms and anonymity, slinging mud and off-topic content from a place of impunity. Connect a form of social ID verification to these accounts and, ideally, the comment areas in question will improve.

Along with your name, your Google+ profile picture will be stuck next to every review word you’ve typed on Play. It’s Social Contract Theory in action, and it has seemed to stymie trollish actions when enacted — or for Facebook, at least.

Moreover, it’s yet another small step by Google to connect its disparate sites via one single thread. Or a “social spine,” as CEO Larry Page described Google+ on a conference call earlier this year. Other steps in that vein include the slow spreading of “Hangouts” over to Gmail, as well as the social bar flanking the top of the screen on all of Google’s Web properties.

The big question: Will Google eventually mandate that YouTube commenters — arguably one of the most troll-ridden corners of the Internet, outside of 4chan — use their Google+ profiles on the video site? Currently, users have the option to do so, but it’s not a necessity. It could clean up the wasteland that is YouTube’s comment section — and lord knows, YouTube needs it (though I’ll admit some of those comments make for unintentional hilarity).

As far as solving the troll problem goes, I doubt we’ll see a complete and utter end to it with the new Google+ system. Apple and Android enthusiasts are some of the most vehemently opinionated (and oft rather unpleasant) commenters on the Web, polarized like modern branches of the Democratic and Republican parties. While the identity layer may take out some of the bite on Play comments, I’d still expect some level of incivility.


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Nobody was excited about paying top dollar for a movie about WikiLeaks. A film about the origins of Pets.com would have done better.

— Gitesh Pandya of BoxOfficeGuru.com comments on the dreadful opening weekend box office numbers for “The Fifth Estate.”