Last week we reported on the outrage that broke out from Carrie Hope Fletcher and the collective YouTuber following after ‘The Metro’s’ celebration of an Alex Day video. The YouTuber has a past of abusing his influence over his predominantly young female fanbase, in some cases coercing them into entering sexual relationships they may have otherwise wished to avoid had their fave not been the one to push them into it.
Unfortunately Alex Day isn’t the only instance in which a high-profiled YouTuber name has been accused of sexually abusing his subscribers. Numerous names have come out, both before and after Alex, in which a YouTuber has broken the barrier between idol and idoliser and done perhaps more than a fan had ever truly bargained for.
But who is to blame? Should YouTube as an organisation be protecting its users from the individuals it partners with? Should subscribers be more vigilant? Or does Alex Day, and other YouTubers alike, hold complete responsibility for the way in which they treat their devoted fanbase? We want you to tell us in the comments below.
We have to celebrate YouTube for what it is and the people its brought us. It allows for young people to take their opinions and broadcast them in a creative way where they actually have the ability to be heard. It connects us to like-minded people, whether it be between creator and watcher, or two people who subscribe to the same channel.
YouTube, moreover, functions as a lifeline for many young people in a time where the economic climate isn’t great, tbh. It’s an unconventional job that has completely thrown the pre-existing media scope and bent and moulded it to create new and exciting opportunities.
In many cases, it’s also important to note how important and positive the influence YouTuber’s voices can be over us. They can move us to make real change in the world. Louise Pentland has encouraged us to go out and vote. Herself and Tanya Burr, and other YouTubers, have been working with the United Nations to tackle gender equality. Many YouTubers also offer huge amounts of support and empathy for those who suffer with mental health problems, or who identify as LGBTQ+ but feel afraid of what that might mean.
YouTubers have such huge amounts of power in their hands to do with what they please. And for people who aspire to be genuine, it is surely them, then, who must decide ultimately how they use it, whether to spread something encouraging or the complete opposite. Using it to take advantage of their fanbase is of course, decidedly not good.
Still, just because a YouTuber is in control, for the most part, in what they make and how they choose to use the popularity they might obtain, as a hugely successful organisation, doesn’t and shouldn’t YouTube itself play a role in our trust not being abused by its content makers?
YouTube has tools to report and censor certain videos that break the rules or offends a particular user who may happen upon something they don’t agree with. The hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty even began trending recently due to a change in terms and conditions in which creators would no longer be able to monetise on videos that use swear words or talk about explicit subject matters such as sex, amongst other things.
If YouTube is able to monitor something as particular as that, why then can’t it stop those who use their platform for wrong-doing in their tracks? Why aren’t people like Alex Day being punished for what they’ve done by blocking them from continuing to monetise on an audience they didn’t look after properly to begin with?
Or is it our problem? Although of course victim blaming is completely disgusting and our hearts go out to those affected by the gross actions of the YouTubers involved in these cases… We have to ask whether the degree to which we obsess over our faves opens us up to scenarios like this where people of influence are manipulating and abusing their fanbase for their own endeavours.
The thing is, we completely fawn over YouTubers, putting them on a pedestal and deeming them flawless and, you know, the actual love of our lives. The fact of the matter is, we worship them and thus have this naive perception that they can do no wrong.
When they show signs of being problematic, we want to gloss past them. And if we’re so lucky as to have our fave see us and/or show an interest in us, we’re not going to want that to suddenly disappear and push them into the arms of another fan.
A YouTuber going after a fan in a predatory way is not excusable. However, it is incredibly important for us to see the people we watch on YouTube as just that. People. Otherwise we’re making ourselves vulnerable to those who don’t use their influence for good and, in turn, endangering ourselves and other people.
But tell us what you think. Who should be responsible for the welfare of our trust? And should those who do abuse it be punished by removal from YouTube? Comment below and let us know your thoughts.