Have you ever seen YouTube automatically unsubscribing you from your favorite channel? Watch the following case and see how popular influencer PewDiePie reacted to this situation.
There was a strange sort of tension on the internet in 2016. If you closed your eyes, leaned towards your screen, and listened closely you could practically hear the whispers:
He wouldn’t. He couldn’t. But what if he does?
PewDiePie claimed that he was going to delete his channel when he reached 50 million subscribers. Some people believed him, some people didn’t, and still, more are claiming to never have believed him even though they totally did.
Pewds reached 50 million subs and did not delete his main YouTube channel. The whole thing was a joke designed to garner reactions, and it got a lot of reactions. We’ve made a timeline of the events.
Dec 2, 2016 – DELETING MY CHANNEL AT 50 MILLION
PewDiePie posts a video in which he expresses several frustrations with YouTube as a platform. They include:
People being randomly unsubscribed from channels, including his.
YouTube regularly looks for spam accounts and unsubscribes them from people, but it isn’t just spam accounts that are being automatically unsubscribed from channels.
On their ‘Known Issues’ page, Google describes a bug where people who are subscribed to channels might sometimes look like they aren’t even though they are, and many people who have tried to seek support after being unsubscribed from several of their favorite channels have been referred to this bug.
People aren’t just ‘appearing’ to be unsubbed from channels they like, though. It is actually happening.
No more Subscribed Channels feed on the main dashboard.
Instead of seeing new videos from channels you’ve chosen to subscribe to on your YouTube dashboard, you now see a list of videos that YouTube recommends for you. Often, these videos will not appeal to you at all.
YouTube is probably trying to direct more traffic to videos which have proven that they increase YouTube session time. Pewds feels like it encourages click-baiting.
Beyond no longer displaying your Subscriber Feed on your dashboard, YouTube has also stopped sending you alerts for everybody you’re subscribed to. You have to double-subscribe by clicking the bell icon on channels you like, even if you are already subbed.
If you do not click the bell, you will still receive occasional highlight emails about the channels you are subbed you, but you won’t know right away when particular channels post new videos. Many content creators are feeling cheated because they worked hard to build up a subscriber base under the pretense that their subscribers would get their alerts. The double-subscribe feature forces them to re-earn all of their existing subscribers, many of whom may not even realize they need to double-subscribe.
Due to his frustration, PewDiePie says he is going to delete his channel. He also says that he will not be leaving YouTube and simply plans to start again with a new channel, and it is this piece of information that makes the prank feel like it could be real.
Deleting his channel would mean a huge financial sacrifice – all of the ad revenue old videos could earn – but it would not ruin him. He’d still have his series on YouTube Red, his book, and revenue from his new channel.
Dec 8, 2016 – I’M RACIST?
Pewds gets a lot of negative feedback on the video where he claims he will delete his channel, and not all of it is in the comments section. A huge number of major news sources covered the video, and a lot of the commentary focuses on a section of the video in which he had outlined a conspiracy theory:
YouTube was working against him, specifically, as a white person and trying to replace him with someone like Lilly Singh, who he had called cancerous.
In his video ‘I’M RACIST?’ PewDiePie expresses outrage that so many people who covered his initial video do not understand that he was being sarcastic, which he thought was obvious (it wasn’t necessarily). He says he is concerned with the state of YouTube for all content creators, not just himself.
Dec 9, 2016 – DELETING MY CHANNEL
PewDiePie reaches 50 million subscribers and deletes a smaller side channel of his. He expresses surprise that his joke got so much attention and includes a slideshow of articles covering his initial video.
For about a week in December, PewDiePie had a stranglehold on the collective attention span of the internet. We were scared. We were excited. We were on the edges of our seats. Now, it all just seems silly.
But, there was substance in the whole thing. YouTube is always making changes that are supposed to make things better for creators and viewers, but sometimes they miss the mark. When you disagree with something or think it could be done better, you should say something.
You won’t get as much attention as PewDiePie, though. Because he’s PewDiePie.
Shanoon Cox is a writer and a lover of all things video.
Follow @Shanoon Cox
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