We posted a story on PopBuzz this week about a video gaining some traction of a YouTuber doing an acoustic cover version of Bring Me The Horizon. Some other alt music outlets had written about it and, being the fans of both Youtube and BMTH that we are, it seemed like the perfect fit for the site.
However, once we posted the story, we started getting streams of comments pointing out that the YouTuber, Austin Jones, has been accused of some pretty misogynist and predatory behaviour towards his young female fans.
We quickly removed the post while we researched the story further as, sadly, this is far from the first time we have had to reassess whether a male YouTuber is too problematic for us.
Back in December we saw the arrest of skateboarding YouTube star Steven Fernandez who, along with his manager and another skateboarder, allegedly propositioned a 12 year old girl for sex in exchange for fame.
And, of course, everyone's least favourite "prankster" Sam Pepper has had many allegations of sexual harassment thrown his way and yet still has millions of dedicated followers.
The most recent scandal involves gamer Yamimash who is accused of sending lewd photos to an underage girl and luring her to his house, claims he has denied in a video he released this week, speaking alongside his girlfriend.
Now, we should stress at this point that these are allegations. However, it's not hard to see how situations like this could easily occur.
The very essence of YouTube is that anyone can post anything, connecting directly with an online audience. With that comes a remarkable amount of power and influence over an often very young fanbase. You give that level of fame to non-media trained individuals and it can have many different effects. Some may get overwhelmed by the attention and retreat. Some may thrive on it and forge a new, successful career path. And others, if they are misogynist morons, may use their new found fame and power for unsavoury and downright disgusting behaviour: they may even be drawn into the online world purely for this purpose. You may think you are seeing the real person on camera but, the fact is, the image they are presenting could be very different from their real-life f*ckboy attitudes.
Here's a good example from outside of YouTube - a recent tumblr went viral showing the "male feminists" who frequent tinder, making claims about their positive views on women's rights for the sole purpose of helping them get laid. YouTube can kind of work in the same way: obviously, many, the majority in fact, of YouTubers present genuine versions of themselves; but the a*sholes are always going to find a way through. And, sadly, many of the viewers are too young and naieve to be able to spot the fakers.
Fortunately, the community at large is always quick to react and alert when they see something at odds with the community ethos, our Austin Jones story being the perfect example. But surely there must be an easier, quicker and more effective way to combat these horrible situations before they go too far? A community support system within the site perhaps? Surely it would be better if we can block these fame-hungry predators before they act out rather than having to keep damning them retroactively?
In the mean time, we at PopBuzz will follow the lead and advice of you guys out in the YouTube community so keep up the good work.
Basically, Jon Stewart said it better than we ever could:
Tru Dat Stew Beef. Tru Dat.