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Google Forces YouTube Account Linking

Posted by Abe Sauer on January 10, 2011 08:45 PM

When Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion, there was a lot of speculation as to how the search brand would leverage its new popular, if volatile, property. Would Google be named as part of copyright suits?

By 2008, YouTube's developing ad endeavors translated to $200 million in revenue. By 2010, the video portal was live-streaming athletic events and serving around 2 billion videos a day. It was, for all practical purposes, the world's most popular on-demand TV network — and the second biggest search engine on the planet, after its parent. In October, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley stepped down as CEO to recast himself as a Silicon Valley haberdasher, and one of Google's earliest employees, Salar Kamangar, assumed the top spot.

Now, it looks like Google is making another move to bring the YouTube brand further under the Google umbrella — and just like Facebook's new default profile page, it's irking users who don't want to connect all the dots.

YouTube account holders may be surprised to find the above message, which locks them out of their accounts when they try to sign in until they linked to to a Google account. Don't have a Google account? Sign up for one.

In 2008 Google heavily promoted linking arms with YouTube as a option. In 2009, new YouTube accounts were automatically linked to Google in the creation process. Now, those with older Youtube accounts will longer have an option. As the new lock-out page reads, "You will no longer be able to sign in to Youtube without a Google account." The only other available option to linking accoutns is to sign out of Youtube.

Currently, Twitter users are tweeting their displeasure with the policy.

A few weeks ago, the behind the scenes tightening of the Google-YouTube integration could be seen when users discovered they could not delete their YT accounts. At the time, YouTube reps said that this was a "bug," but that "if you created your account after May 2009, you should be able to delete your account by deleting your whole Google Account."

Will users rebel? Some might but so many more will probably just click the link button. Though, those blighly clikcing may want to consider this warning from Youtube in Oct.:

"Please note: If you link your YouTube Account to a Gmail Account you will not be able to change the email account with which your YouTube Account is associated/linked in the future. When you link a YouTube Account to a Gmail Account the Accounts are permanently linked and this cannot be undone.

If you link your YouTube Account to any other type of email account, you can choose to link to a different Google Account later."

But the account linking blip comes in the wake of the site's redesigned user homepage, and coincides with the (very weak and largely unknown) movement to boycott YouTube today in protest of the website's increasing commercialization.

Given the pushback (and ire raised by Facebook's user profile tactics), Google might be wise to keep in mind the current tenderness of many users.


Tyler Canada says:

Greetings from Canada! Just this moment I was forced into linking my account (I do not own a google account, I have a YouTube account and a Hotmail address), and now I can not access youtube as they try to redirect my to a page that isn't redirecting properly.

As of this moment, I can no longer access youtube.

I can supply screenshots if you want. I am very upset over this.

January 10, 2011 09:30 PM #

Liam United States says:

I had the same problem that you had.  I have a Hotmail account and I was unable to get to Youtube after linking it but after doing a search on the Internet I was able to find a way to unlink the Hotmail account from the Youtube account but now I can't access my Youtube account without linking a Gmail account to it.
I am very angry over this because there are videos that I want to watch but won't be able to until I link to a Gmail account.

January 10, 2011 10:13 PM #

Greg Canada says:

I have the same problem as Tyler except that I linked my YouTube account to a Google account, which one would think should be pretty seamless. The result is that YouTube is now unreachable. I have tried reporting this to YouTube or Google but won't know if they fix it since they don't respond to such requests personally. I guess I will just have to try reaching YouTube periodically until it actually works again.

January 11, 2011 08:46 PM #

David Canada says:

I set up my account back in 2005, back when YouTube was just YouTube, not a part of Google's evil empire.  When I just tried to sign in now, I was forced to link to my Yahoo account, and now I can't sign in at all.  What a bloated piece of garbage this site has become.

January 10, 2011 09:49 PM #

angry United States says:

this is garbage. for the past year theres been a note saying link these accounts... i have no idea how they got my yahoo acct info in the first place. there has always been a skip this for now button attached and a cute little we'll remind you in a little bit note.
this attempt at ubiquity by google and facebook is ruining the internet.
they want to consolidate everything and make you go through them for all you do online. bastards.

January 10, 2011 09:50 PM #

David Canada says:

angry, you hit it on the head.  The internet is dead.  There are no more original, interesting sites out there because now everything is forced through FB and Google, where homogeneity is the name of the game.  Bye bye, Youtube, not necessarily by choice, but because it's now literally impossible for me to sign in.  My email password doesn't work, and Google's convoluted password reset thing is trying to reset my EMAIL password, not my YouTube password.  Screw that.

January 10, 2011 09:56 PM #

Daddy United States says:

This is wak bruh

January 10, 2011 10:42 PM #

bvdon United States says:

This is pissing me off to no end. I have had my account for years. There is no reason for Google to require me to link to a gmail account other than to plunder my data, tracking all my video choices and comments on YouTube.

On YouTube, I use a handle that has a handle based yahoo account -- I am anonymous. With Gmail, I have my real name... I do not want to link my real name to YouTube.

January 10, 2011 11:43 PM #

Weenis United States says:

Why dont you make a 2nd gmail just for youtube

January 11, 2011 02:49 AM #

Kat Jones United States says:

Because we shouldn't have to. Google has no right to FORCE us to do anything.

If you make a new Youtube Account now, the activation email isn't for youtube, it's for Google Accounts. No matter what email you use. It's preposterous. Google tracks our every move when we're logged in. They keep records of everything.

January 11, 2011 11:27 AM #

Kat Jones United States says:

This is preposterous. I don't want to compromise my privacy or account security by linking everything together. Google is trying to monopolize the internet, and someone has to stop them.
If Salar Kamangar got run over by a dump truck full of nytro glycerin, I would applaud, and the world would be a better place.
The reason I got gmail was because Yahoo compromised Privacy, and now look at this! I'm appalled by Googles gross disregard for our rights, and I'm not going to bend over for it.
I hope someone sues Google for every penny it's worth, and that Youtube gets set free from this disgusting tyranny.

January 10, 2011 11:56 PM #

Kat Jones United States says:

YouTube, LLC
901 Cherry Ave.
San Bruno, CA 94066
Phone: +1 650-253-0000
Fax: +1 650-253-0001

everyone mail youtube and complain! They'll wish they never had a street address.

January 11, 2011 12:01 AM #

Chris T United States says:

Well it seems that I was not the only one hit with this today. I don't think I will be coming back to youtube. Everyone should take this as a hint that technology is distorting your reality. Tune out and take a walk.

January 11, 2011 12:03 AM #

Kat Jones United States says:

Seriously! I mean, Am I the only one having I-Robot Flashbacks here?

January 11, 2011 12:11 AM #

Jeff United States says:

This is absolute bullshit, I'm not using youtube anymore. Like 'David' said, "the internet is dead."

January 11, 2011 12:20 AM #

sfCA United States says:

another one bites the dust...

so where's the next youtube?

January 11, 2011 01:40 AM #

Caspar United Kingdom says:


That's the answer now. It's superior in content and design in any case.

January 11, 2011 10:05 AM #

Kat Jones United States says:

they aren't letting people sign up.

January 11, 2011 11:31 AM #

Matt Canada says:

I too have been cut off.  I can watch it on Firefox, though.

Silly moves like this just spurs on up start companies to start an alternative to youtube. A few years from now when youtube goes the way of broadcast.com, somebody clearing out their unemployed desk will go "Why did we do that?"  

Why did they do that?

January 11, 2011 04:26 AM #

ebe Finland says:

Just found this out and it's absolutely BS! I for one am not going go along with this, they can their spy ring for themselves.

January 11, 2011 04:58 AM #

izi United Kingdom says:

I've been avoiding linking my account for ages, but today i finally had to link it to my gmail account only to be told it's already been linked to a different youtube account. No.
So then I made a new gmail account for youtube and now youtube just will not load so I don't even know if it worked.  If i can't access it i'm gonna be not only pissed off but also bloody depressed. #rantover
Won't be uploading anything else to youtube, that's for sure. r.i.p. youtube

January 11, 2011 06:11 AM #

Garrett United States says:

So what now?
We still are able to use YT, though now through the old accounts.

As for alternatives for music I know of www.grooveshark.com. I'm still unsure about re-creating all my 30 playlists from YT on grooveshark. That would be a real pain in the ass.

Do you guys know of a good alternative for YT?

January 11, 2011 07:55 AM #

Monsieur Netherlands says:

Why do we keep taking this shit? We need to do something against all this nonsense

January 11, 2011 09:56 AM #

Chris T United States says:

They are a private enterprise and could do whatever they want.
The best way to bankrupt a company is to stop giving them money.

January 11, 2011 11:25 AM #

Kat Jones United States says:

But WE can do what ever we want to. And WE don't want to link our accounts. And WE don't want google making our decisions for  us.

January 11, 2011 11:33 AM #

Nick United Kingdom says:

This is completely ridiculous. They're no better than Facebook, trying to uniform the Internet, wanting me to leave my FB footprint everywhere. I'm not Generation Z and I don't want the borderline between my real life (including the private e-mail address I use to contact uni, work,  family and whatever) and my online life trespassed without giving me an option. I'm sick of the idea of every comment and favourite video and whatever being traced back to my person. If I want my acquaintances to look at my videos I'll tell them myself.

January 11, 2011 10:10 AM #

Corbin United States says:

I am upset by this. I signed up for YouTube in 2005 and since added several favorites. The problem is that my gmail is known to my friends, family, and co-workers. If  my account is linked then they will be able to search their address book for people on YouTube (similar to Facebook). I thought my YouTube account was anonymous and added NSFW favorites like Corbin Fisher and other homoerotic videos. This could damage my career if the accounts were linked.

I cannot access YouTube to backup my favorites and delete my account. I have to link or lose 5 years of favorites, friends, and playlists. Not fair.  

January 11, 2011 11:58 AM #

SH Singapore says:

And I thought I was the only one who had to deal with this nonsense. I've had an account since 2006 and now I can't log in either. I can't even access the home page of youtube. No. Real fun. The best thing yet? We weren't really given any options. It was a do-it-or-get-out situation. Genius move, Youtube. Real genius. Should've never started an account in the first place.is really getting on my nerves. And what stinks is that we can't do anything about it

January 11, 2011 12:29 PM #

Warren United Kingdom says:

Looks like Youtube have seen the error of their ways and have gone back to the old sign in method without needing to signing up to google.

January 11, 2011 02:53 PM #

Caat United States says:

Please tell me where you see this, because I am still locked out.

January 14, 2011 11:01 PM #

Kat Jones United States says:

Yeah, I don't know what gave you that impression, unless it's just in Britain.

January 14, 2011 11:08 PM #

Tania Canada says:

I don't understand. I was forced to link my YouTube account to my Google account which is a Yahoo! address and it's taking forever. What is it trying to link anyway? And how long is it supposed to take? I've been waiting an hour for another page to load so I can arrive at the next step but nothing's happening and it's really frustrating. Now YouTube doesn't open for me at all. What's even going to even happen to my YouTube account then? This is SO annoying! >:\

January 11, 2011 03:03 PM #

Kat Jones United States says:

It wants you to make a google account with your Yahoo email address.

January 11, 2011 03:15 PM #

Mara Russia says:

People ..

the best solution i can give you now is too create a fake hotmail yahoo whatever account & then too link this with YT...
This way they get the bullshit (nothing personal in other words) & you keep your privacy ...


God bless you all !!

ps. i feel a revolution coming ....

January 11, 2011 03:46 PM #

Kat Jones United States says:

To that I say, we may as well try to take YouTube down by not suing it anymore.

January 11, 2011 03:54 PM #

Mara Russia says:

ps ...

use this link it will help you too unlink ...


January 11, 2011 03:48 PM #

Kasia United States says:

I just did that and if you unlink it, it just asks you to relink again. This is some real BULLSHIT, really. I deleted my Myspace a looong time ago to get rid of creepers, I deactivate my Facebook for a few months ever so often to not constantly be available to all, and I don't plan on getting a twitter ever (why the hell should anyone know what Im doing or thinking or where im at all the time!!)... I like that everything is separate. I don't want to link my email and my youtube which has a bunch of favorited videos id like to keep private. Nothing bad about them but its mostly my music choices and funny videos. Yet I should still be allowed to keep this private. Even though I've had my account since 2005 Ive decided to link the accounts temporarily, write down all my favorites and then delete the bogus email I made for it and my youtube account. Then just search as an outsider on youtube.

P.S. KNOW THAT WHEN YOU'RE LOGGED ON TO YOUTUBE NOW (if you've already linked) GOOGLE WILL KNOW WHAT YOU'RE SEARCHING OUTSIDE OF YOUTUBE WHILE YOU'RE ON THE NET AS WELL. Therefore having youtube or your email on at any point in time will give away privacy information and keep track of what you've done online. I'm officially done with all social sites!

January 11, 2011 05:25 PM #

David Canada says:

Funnily enough, it's far easier to stalk people on Facebook than it is on MySpace, because it's about 50x easier to search for people.  And if Facebook is for narcissists then Twitter is for absolute, flaming egomaniacs.

January 15, 2011 08:27 AM #

Kat Jones United States says:

You can also message people you aren't friends with, making cyber-bullying easier. As far as I know, you can't do that on myspace.

January 15, 2011 01:32 PM #

Corbin United States says:

I hope Google changes the YouTube linking policy. I had to create a new gmail account that I will never use just to link to YouTube.

It would be unfortunate if someone lost a job by inadvertently linking their gmail account to their private YouTube. Unemployment is 10% and anything that a co-worker or manager discovers about you could harm your career.

Also some kid could favorite the "It's Gets Better" videos and be exposed by linking their gmail account. It would be sad if a kid got bullied by having their private favorites and playlists and comments exposed.

January 11, 2011 07:46 PM #

Jack Yan New Zealand says:

I won’t be linking to Google in a hurry: I have spent around a year de-Googling my life, because of privacy concerns with the company. As part of that, I intentionally unlinked YouTube and Google.

A good friend of mine was able to browse an acquaintance’s YouTube history. I cannot remember the exact circumstances, but the Google privacy settings had something to do with it.

In other words, I’d steer well clear of linking and browse without an account. I’ll lose a lot of connections made on YouTube, but I’d rather lose them than my privacy.

January 12, 2011 06:58 AM #

Gollum United Kingdom says:

To my mind, both Google and eBay are abusing their dominant positions by forcing account-sharing with their respective subsidiaries, Youtube and PayPal. Such abuse should be drawn to the attention of the Anti-trust legislature.

The United States antitrust law is the body of laws that prohibits anti-competitive behavior (monopoly) and unfair business practices. Antitrust laws are intended to encourage competition in the marketplace. [1] These competition laws make illegal certain practices deemed to hurt businesses or consumers or both, or generally to violate standards of ethical behavior. Government agencies known as competition regulators, along with private litigants, apply the antitrust and consumer protection laws in hopes of preventing market failure. The term antitrust was originally formulated to combat "business trusts", now more commonly known as cartels.

January 12, 2011 10:45 AM #

Back to branding Australia says:

On a branding note - this is really not on brand for Google, to quote the Interbrand 2010 best global brands - "it (google) increasingly finds it difficult to reconcile its brand promise, “Don’t be evil,” with the realities of a powerful global brand"

My interpretation of this has been that google is the alternative to the 'evil' giant corporation, this action seems to place them very much as the evil organisation, and everyone is looking for the alternative (to youtube) which Google used to be.

bad branding move in my opinion!

January 12, 2011 05:28 PM #

Jack Yan New Zealand says:

You have hit it on the head. Google was a contrarian brand, much like Virgin. Today, it’s the establishment, and acts as though it is. Something is very messed up with the brand itself as it heads toward conventionalism, probably driven by people internally who would like Google to be just that.

January 12, 2011 06:24 PM #

lilkunta United States says:

I dont like this at all. I dont have a  gmail bc I dont like how google keeps all info.
YT has just lost a user.

January 12, 2011 06:35 PM #

Eruaran Australia says:

Message to Google:

I DO NOT WANT to link my YouTube account with my Google account. And because Google has done this I cannot  even sign in to CLOSE my YouTube account!

SOME of us actually care about the security and privacy of having separate accounts and we're not taken in by "more secure" BS.

Don't be evil?

Don't make me laugh.

January 14, 2011 08:52 AM #

Comments are closed

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