Twitter. Facebook. And now YouTube, with a new feature that lets visitors see in real time which YouTube videos their friends are watching and what they are saying about them. It builds on the "friend activity" function on the site, which already shows what videos others are uploading and rating. The difference: now that information follows a user as he or she navigates around the site via a toolbar on the bottom of every YouTube page showing which friends are online and what they are doing.
At first, it sounds rather invasive. But the feature is opt in and, while playing with it this morning, I found it very easy to turn off with the big power on/off button. It also make it very tempting to whittle away the day clicking on video after video that perhaps you can talk about with friends later on.
So, the featureif it's widely adoptedshould definitely facilitate the passing on of videos. It's worth noting, though, that that's not exactly much of a problem at the moment. There are already links below every YouTube video to share it with friends on a number of social networking sites, including Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. And there's the old "e-mail this video" function too. But YouTube spokesman Spencer Crooks said the goal is simply to build on those tools by giving people "another way to share and find new videos on the site." He said a date for a full roll-out has not yet been set and is pending testing.
Want to try it out? Be one of the first 25 people to e-mail me at joe AT paidcontent.org and I'll share an invite.
By Joseph Tartakoff