YouTube is headed further down the TikTok-ification rabbit hole, but this time it could be kind of a good thing. The Google-owned video platform is introducing “handles,” a not-so-new, new way for creators on the site to uniquely identify.
Each channel will soon have it’s own @handle that can be tagged in comments, video descriptions, and community posts. These handles will also appear on user’s channel pages, and on Shorts posts (again, similar to how TikTok handles currently appear on videos), according to the company’s Monday announcement.
“Unlike channel names, handles are unique to each channel,” the company said in a video explaining the change. This means that handles could become a quick way to more easily verify the identity of an account on the platform, and avoid videos from scam, dupe, and imposter channels. Currently, multiple YouTube channels can share the same name.
The company will be rolling handles out in such a way that certain, more prominent YouTubers get first dibs. Platform presence, subscriber count, and recent activity level will all be factored into the order in which users receive their handle invite. Creators will get a notification when it’s their turn to create a handle, and everyone will have the option to choose their own @ by November 14, according to Google’s FAQs on the subject.
A user’s selected handle will then become part of a custom URL, that can be used to direct viewers to their channel. Previously, custom URLs were only available to accounts with more than 100 subscribers, but now YouTube says every channel will have one. If an account already had an existing, customized URL—that name has been automatically reserved for that account as a potential handle, however creators will have the chance to go for a new handle, if preferred, as soon as they receive notification from YouTube Studio.
Handles will also become a shorthand way to communicate throughout the platform via comments, posts, and tags. “Handles will replace channel names throughout the comments section - in the case of both the comment author and someone is mentioned in a comment, they will both be identified by their handle,” clarified YouTube spokesperson Jess Gibby, in an email to Gizmodo.
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Worth noting is that previously, comments in YouTube showed up under peoples’ Google account name—often just a person’s full name. Last year, the company made it easier to separate YouTube channels from Google accounts, but the move to handles will likely make it additionally easier to maintain your comment section privacy.
The move to @handles is also certainly a way to further attract content creators away from TikTok and towards Shorts. Last month, YouTube announced new ways for Shorts creators to monetize their videos via ad revenue, in contrast to TikTok where users don’t receive any money from the advertisements that play before or after their videos.