In May last year, YouTube introduced a new feature which allowed users to privately send videos to their friends and chat within a dedicated tab in the YouTube mobile app. The company now says that the feature is being shut down. The feature that allowed users to direct-message friends on YouTube will be removed on September 18th.
In its announcement, YouTube didn’t provide much of a reason for this update. While the company says that its more recent work has been focused on public conversations with updates to comments, posts stories, it doesn’t explain why messages is no longer a priority.
A likely reason for the removal is that the feature was under-utilized as most people prefer messaging apps such as Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat, iMessage or others. Google, itself, has built its own messaging apps including Allo, Duo, Hangouts, Meet, Android Messages / RCS and Google Voice, and various others.
Many people are not happy with the decision and there are nearly 500 angry comments replying to Google’s announcement about the closure. Many of these angry comments come from young children who often used it as a sort of workaround to their parents’ block on messaging apps on their own phones or as a way to communicate from their tablets or via web, most likely without parents’ knowledge.
However, that’s not a good look for YouTube at this time, given its issues around inappropriate videos aimed at children, child exploitation, child predators and regulatory issues. Earlier, the video platform came under fire in February for putting kids at risk of child predators.