Privacy is obviously a major concern these days, and something we have talked about on this very blog, but how private are your comments? After all, it’s one thing to be told your expectation of privacy is limited if you are going to upload videos to YouTube, but entirely another to be told your offhand comments could be traced.
Can YouTube Comments Be Traced? – Yes, the reality of this kind of situation is that everything can be traced to some degree, it is more a matter of how badly the unseen party wants to track your comments.
Random users who are perhaps upset with something you have said have no plausible way of tracing your comments. If you have said something that breaks YouTube’s guidelines, they can report your comment to YouTube, but that will result in YouTube taking direct action (if they take any action at all), and will not see the reporting party learn your whereabouts or identity.
Can YouTube Trace Comments?
In order to leave a comment on a YouTube video, you have to be logged in to YouTube. This ensures YouTube have a good amount of ways to track you, from your viewing history to the IP address you routinely log in from. Obviously, then, if you are leaving a YouTube comment, YouTube can trace that comment to you.
Now, there are things you can do to limit what that tracing means. YouTube can view your IP address and, with it, they can estimate your geographical location. They will also have a specific address if you have saved any payment details, such as for YouTube Premium (or at least the billing address of the person whose card was used). If you don’t save payment details and you access YouTube using a VPN, YouTube will have no practical way of tracing your comments to a real person or location.
Why Would Traced Comments Be Bad?
There are many reasons why someone might not want their comments to be traced and, if we’re being honest, the majority of them are not particularly savoury. If someone was making illegal comments (mainly hate speech) or making comments that incriminate them in some illegal behaviour, they would naturally not want their comments to be traceable, as that could lead to legal action being taken against them.
That been said, there are some more noble reasons to be concerned about YouTube comments being traced. For example, if you are living in a country that takes punitive action against people who criticise the government, you would naturally not want your comments criticising the government to be traceable. In this situation, most (at least most in our neck of the woods) would probably agree that it is a good reason to hide your real identity and make your comments harder to trace, as opposed to wanting to throw racial slurs around without facing any consequences.
Can Police Track YouTube Comments
When law enforcement gets involved, things get a little trickier. First off, most law enforcement agencies need to have a good reason to go demanding private information from companies like YouTube, so you’re not likely to have the police tracing your whereabouts in this manner over a comment admitting you stole a magazine once. The other side of this point, of course, is that if the police are attempting to trace you through a YouTube comment, they will really want to find you.
And they will have YouTube’s full cooperation.
YouTube is required by law in just about all countries to cooperate if local law enforcement is able to prove they have good cause to be tracing someone. Of course, YouTube’s full cooperation is still limited to what they themselves can find out. If YouTube doesn’t have any information that can be used to trace you, they can’t give that information to the police.
That being said, crime on the Internet is often an international affair, and it may well be a government agency that is interested in your whereabouts, rather than the local police department. In that case, it is hard to say how secure your anonymity is. The movies tend to inflate reality to make it more interesting, but it’s reasonable to assume that an organisation like MI5 or the CIA will have some advanced toys that the likes of YouTube are not in possession of.
Should You Worry About Your Comments Being Traced?
As you have probably already gathered from above, traced comments is only really a problem for people who are doing something wrong in the eyes of the law. YouTube may not be able to trace you back to your home, but they don’t need to know where you live to ban you from the platform if you are doing something against the terms of service. Law enforcement agencies are a different kettle of fish, however.
Of course, the fact that you are worried about being traced does not automatically make you a bad person, such as in the case of the countries with over-zealous laws about criticising the people in power. Ultimately, this blog is here to explore all aspects of YouTube, not judge people. Our default state, however, is to advise you not to break the law.
This is probably not something that pops into your mind when thinking about being “traced” on the Internet, but social engineering is a very real way to find out more information about someone. Of course, it is also a way that is very to prevent.
Social engineering in this sense might be following the links on someone’s YouTube page to other social media accounts, or figuring out what your username on other platforms might be from things you have said in the comments. Whether an interested party could figure out who you really are or where you live in this manner would depend on what kind of information you have publicly available online, but this also means that it is entirely within your control to prevent.
Of course, being polite and friendly online and not breaking any laws is also a very good way to avoid attracting the attention of anyone who might want to trace your comments…
Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube
Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.
1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search
I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.
2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos
I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.
When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.
I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.
That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.
Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.
3. Rev.com helps people read my videos
You can’t always listen to a video.
Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.
This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.
Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.
A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.
4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube
I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.
I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.
That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.
Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).
5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways
I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.
And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.
I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.
I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.
They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.