VidCon is one of the few conventions where fans and YouTube creators get a chance to meet up, but senior VidCon management is asking creators to not organize unofficial hangouts with fans, due to security concerns.
Jim Louderback, VidCon CEO, told Polygon that new security measures are being implemented at this year’s VidCon to try and prevent unsafe situations. One of the most prominent examples of an unofficial meetup getting out of hand occurred in 2017. Logan Paul hid $3,000 around VidCon for fans and, when he was spotted by those fans, the scene turned into a full-on stampede. Videos from the incident show people being tackled trying to catch up to Paul.
It’s unsafe, and that’s why Louderback and the VidCon team have set up new measures to prevent this from happening. Creators are now staying in hotels a mile away from the convention center in Anaheim to try and prevent fans staking out a chance to see their favorite personality and getting too excited, and more barricades will be introduced to keep a safe distance between people at bigger meetups.
“We are definitely encouraging people not to host unofficial meetups,” Louderback said. “We’re also going to be on the lookout for folks who may not think they’ll attract big crowds, but if something does happen we can easily get to the point where it’s like, ‘What gets you a safe space?’ If we can, we’ll set up these more structured meetups. You can actually meet fans and say hi in a way that’s structured, and that isn’t going to cause a free-for-all. 150 or 200 people running over because so-and-so is over in the corner talking to fans has the potential to cause big problems. We work really hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Louderback said organizers are also preparing to deal with creators who show up and draw unexpected crowds, simply because those creators are unaware how fervent or how large their fanbase is.
“We have people show up to VidCon who are big creators with huge followings that we might not even know, and they get an industry badge, and they may walk in and all of a sudden have 20, 30, 40, 50 people surrounding them,” Louderback said. “Though it starts off great, just a nice, ‘Hi, how are you,’ it can get a little unsettling. We’ve got security in place so if we do see things like that develop, we just make sure that everybody stays safe and figure out how to work with it.”
New security measures at VidCon 2018 include metal detectors for the meetup areas, and a one-hour line wait for those who want to snag a selfie with someone like Liza Koshy. Louderback said the VidCon security team has learned how to provide a safer experience for fans and creators.
“The first VidCon was in this little hotel in Century City with about 1,400 people.” Louderback said. “As it grew, and we moved into Anaheim, more and more people started coming. It started to get a lot of fans and a lot of creators, and there was a lot of enthusiasm. Sometimes that enthusiasm bubbles over a little bit. So the team started doing little security things and that has expanded into a number of others. And now the there are 30,000 people coming to the conference, so you need a lot more guard rails basically.”
Security will remain Louderback and his team’s number one concern, and the increased security presence should help people feel safe. But he’s also asking people to, again, not host unofficial meetups. That includes $3,000 scavenger hunts around or even away from the convention center. Louderback wants everyone to be on their best behavior — both attendees and creators — but acknowledges it’s easier said than done.
“We can’t really control 30,000 people, we can’t control what every single person is going to do,” Louderback said. “We don’t want to. We just want to create a safe space, and we’ll react to things as they happen. We’re prepared.”
VidCon runs from June 20-23.