Thursday, September 21, 2023

All YouTube users will soon have an account handle, but some will be able to choose theirs sooner

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Shreya Christina
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All YouTube users will soon have a new way to identify themselves. The company announced today that @name handles will be used across the platform, a convention common elsewhere on the web, but a starting point for YouTube.

Every YouTube user has a unique handle that applies to the entire platform, from channel pages to Shorts, YouTube’s TikTok competitor. Users can use a handle to mention others in comments, video descriptions, titles and more, which YouTube says will make it easier for creators to reach audiences and increase visibility.

“We want to ensure that creators can create an identity that is as unique as their content, while giving viewers the confidence to interact with their favorite creators,” YouTube says in its blog. Creators will still have a channel name, but the handles will be unique, which may reduce them imitation accounts.

Three screens of locations where user handles and creator handles appear.

Handles are featured on YouTube platforms, including Shorts.
Image: YouTube

YouTube will gradually roll out levers starting this week by notifying users when it’s their turn to pick a lever, meaning some people are more likely to claim theirs than others. If a user has already created a personalized URL for their channel, that’s their default handle (they have the option to change it when it’s their turn).

YouTube says it will roll out notifications based on factors such as overall presence on the platform, number of subscribers, and whether the channel is active. Claiming a handle can also be the nudge that creators who are not on YouTube need to join the platform or maintain their account. Users typically need 100 or more subscribers to create a custom URL (a notice says that choosing, changing, and deleting URLs is currently paused).

A YouTube page with confirmation after claiming a handle.  Custom URLs become the default handle in most cases.

YouTube will notify creators when it’s their turn to take their hold.
Image: YouTube

The addition of handles further aligns YouTube with TikTok, just as the company is doubling its investment in Shorts. Last month, YouTube announced it would monetize Shorts, keeping creators 45 percent of its ad revenue. It has also added updates such as watermarks to Shorts reposted elsewhere, and tools to use longer videos in short clips over the past few months as it lasts on TikTok.

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