Rumors of an apparent “shadowban” of YouTube’s biggest individual creator started swirling today, following reports of strange issues surrounding Felix Kjellberg’s PewDiePie channel.
When viewers attempted to search PewDiePie on YouTube, his channel would not appear. Videos in the top results also tended to be from a year ago or longer. Finally, Kjellberg himself posted on the community tab of his channel, stating that his latest video apparently wasn’t going to people’s sub-boxes. Kjellberg did not return a request for comment.
While some of these issues, like inconsistent notifications, are things that plague YouTubers from time to time, having them all happen at once led to news channels and social media commentators saying Kjellberg had been “shadowbanned” from the service somehow. These shadowban claims attracted thousands of shares and interactions. The gist put forth by some was that YouTube was trying to bury its biggest (and sometimes controversial) creator.
As of Thursday afternoon, some of these issues appear to have been resolved — while a search by Polygon earlier returned mostly old PewDiePie videos, now his most recent uploads populate the top of the results.
On Twitter, the official YouTube account told fans that it does not shadowban any channels, and that it was possible that the search results were influenced by the system flagging the recent uploads somehow. When content is flagged, the team needs to review it before it can show up in search — but right now, “reviews are taking longer” due to coronavirus issues.
A YouTube representative acknowledged the issue to Polygon, stating, “We are hearing reports that PewDiePie’s channel and some videos are not surfacing within searches. We are currently working on fixing the issue. We are sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.”
While the search portion of the channel issues seem to be resolved, YouTube hasn’t confirmed that all of the problems have been addressed yet. Previously, Kjellberg alleged that his videos had been banned from China.