YouTube took swift action yesterday against a channel targeted toward kids that was found to have posted slanderous and defamatory videos.
Pop Blast, a channel which had just under 700,000 subscribers before it was taken down, gained notoriety among YouTube circles in recent months. In the past year, Pop Blast secured millions of views and hundreds of thousands of subscribers by reporting on other YouTube celebrities and creating fake conspiracy theories to garner attention. Although it’s unclear how many of these views are generated by bots, the content appears targeted at a younger audience who watch other YouTube influencers and stars.
Pop Blast’s channel was finally removed from YouTube after a series of unfounded and incorrect allegations made against one of the original YouTube stars, Shane Dawson, calling him a pedophile.
That first video, which has since been deleted, was originally titled “Shane Dawson is a pedophile. Here’s the proof” but was later changed to “I think Shane Dawson is a pedophile. Here’s my proof.” As evidence, Pop Blast used audio from a podcast Dawson was on years ago, doctoring his comments to make it appear as if he was making disturbing comments about children. That video, which gained hundreds of thousands of views was then deleted by the channel.
In the hours between the original video being uploaded, deleted and Pop Blast’s channel being removed from YouTube, a series of creepy conspiracy theory videos about Dawson appeared, disappeared and reappeared on the channel. Over the course of a few hours, multiple videos that allegedly stole content from other creators were uploaded and deleted from Pop Blast’s channel. Livestreams featuring disturbing imagery and audio went up and caught the attention of the YouTube community — and YouTube itself.
On Jan. 10, YouTube removed Pop Blast’s entire channel, citing “multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content.” YouTube’s community guidelines state that “content that deliberately tries to mislead users for financial gain may be removed, and in some cases strikes may be issued to the uploader.” YouTube’s rules also very clearly state that “it’s not okay to post large amounts of repetitive and/or re-uploaded videos to your channel,” which Pop Blast’s channel did multiple times over the course of several hours.
In response to the allegations made on Pop Blast’s channel, Dawson uploaded his own video, playing a longer version of the original clip taken from the podcast. Dawson starts off by reiterating that he’s “not a fucking pedophile,” before expanding on the conversation and explaining how the jokes came to be.
“I’m going to apologize first,” Dawson says in the video. “I am sorry that I used to make really fucking shitty jokes. I am sorry that I was, like, so fucking insecure and, like, playing this character ... this guy who’s fucking crazy and will say anything and tries to make people laugh by shocking them. That was my thing, that’s what I used to do on YouTube ... I have changed so much as a person; as a creative, and as a writer, and as a director.
“The stuff that I was saying back in those times, I would never say now, because I don’t think that’s funny. Listening to that clip just now, I didn’t laugh; I didn’t think it was funny.”
Dawson followed up his video on Twitter, asking the company to remove a Twitter Moment that referred to accusations against him, saying it has been disproven.
@Twitter @TwitterSupport @TwitterVideo hey guys, can u please remove the twitter moment connecting my name to pedophila. it’s been proven false and it’s disgusting. thank you. pic.twitter.com/fLSNhDOcDy— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) January 11, 2018
As the situation began to unfold, other top YouTubers began commenting, including Bobby Burns who has worked with Dawson in the past on collaborative projects.
“If you don’t know what you’re talking about, you have not done any research whatsoever, haven’t read anything or haven’t watched any of the content in question, don’t fucking tweet about it,” Dawson said, condemning the Moments page.
YouTube’s quick removal of the channel in the wake of the Dawson allegations comes after the company announced plans to hire 10,000 more moderators to keep track of videos featuring disturbing content. YouTube was hit with reports from numerous publications that discovered unsettling videos and channels, like Pop Blast, targeting children. In a blog published on Dec. 4, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company discovered in recent months “a growing trend around content on YouTube that attempts to pass as family-friendly, but is clearly not.” Wojcicki added that “while some of these videos may be suitable for adults, others are completely unacceptable, so we are working to remove them from YouTube.”
YouTube also came under scrutiny in recent days for its delayed reaction to dealing with Logan Paul’s controversial video which showed the body of a man who appeared to have recently committed suicide. YouTube has since removed Paul from Google’s Preferred program, possibly cutting his ad revenue by 50 percent, and put a hold on all of the creator’s YouTube Red projects.
Although YouTube has taken down Pop Blast’s channel, mirrored versions of the original videos are appearing on the website. As in similar cases, YouTube is asking people to flag the videos upon coming across them so the moderators can deal with it.