A top YouTuber is publicly sparring with the platform after he says 'hundreds' of his fans unfairly lost access to their Google accounts
Screenshot YouTube/Markiplier, Samantha Lee/Business Insider
- One of YouTube's most popular creators, Mark "Markiplier" Fischbach, took a stand against the platform on Friday with his video titled "YouTube has a huge problem..."
- Fischbach said "hundreds" of his fans were suspended from their YouTube and Google accounts after "spamming" emotes, YouTube's emojis, per his direction in his chat, for a livestreaming event he hosted in partnership with YouTube Originals.
- In the tense video, Fischbach criticized YouTube for denying fans' appeals, said the problem extends beyond the automated systems YouTube uses for content moderation, and argued that the platform is unfairly affecting people's livelihoods.
- On Twitter, the @TeamYouTube account told Fischbach "the accounts have been reinstated," and a representative for YouTube told Business Insider that "a number" of the accounts were reinstated while YouTube continues to investigate what happened.
- In a response on Twitter, Fischbach added that "I understand that transparency isn't usually YouTube's mode of operation, but when the problem runs this deep you have to give us the why or people won't trust your platform."
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Mark "Markiplier" Fischbach uploaded an explosive criticism of YouTube on Friday after he "hundreds" of his fans were unjustly banned from YouTube and Google for simply commenting too many emotes, YouTube's emojis, in a row on one of Fischbach's livestreams.
Not only were people's YouTube and Google accounts suspended for "spamming" the emotes at Fischbach's request (he asked for fans to vote using red or green emotes), but Fischbach showed seven screenshots of fans who appealed the suspensions and were denied again by the platform's content moderators.
"There's probably many of you watching out here that have been affected by this, please I want you to know I'm working on it, they're working on it, but goddamn I'm just as mad as you are," Fischbach said in the video. "Just seeing this and how it's affecting people is making me so mad that I am losing my ability to give anybody the benefit of the doubt here."
The conversation between Fischbach and YouTube escalated on Twitter on Saturday, as the Team YouTube Twitter account replied to Fischbach's tweet of the video and said, "The accounts have been reinstated and we're looking into why the appeals were denied and how we can prevent this in the future."
Fischbach replied, "I understand that transparency isn't usually YouTube's mode of operation, but when the problem runs this deep you have to give us the why or people won't trust your platform."
He also noted that not all of the accounts have been reinstated. A representative for YouTube told Business Insider that "a number of" the accounts had been reinstated while YouTube continues to investigate the issue. Fischbach didn't immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
The Markiplier video raised concerns with YouTube's content moderation systems as a whole, with fans losing access to both their channels and their Google accounts
Fischbach's criticism is a major blow to YouTube. Markiplier, a gaming channel, has 24.5 million subscribers and ranks no. 81 in the most subscribed-to channels on YouTube. Fischbach is one of the most recognizable figures on the platform and, unlike many of his peers, has never suffered a major PR blow.
His video, titled "YouTube has a huge problem...", did not appear on the trending page of the website despite racking up over a million views in less than 24 hours. In it, he specifies that he has no idea how many fans in total had their accounts suspended after his livestream, but believes it to be "hundreds" of people.
Fans communicated with Fischbach about what was happening through the moderators of the Markiplier Discord server, a messaging platform that many YouTubers use to communicate with fans and build a community. Fischbach praised his moderators as "heroes" for collecting "data" and screenshots from fans experiencing suspensions, some of which Fischbach inserted into his video.
One screenshot from a chat with fans showed someone claiming (with screenshots) that they got their account un-suspended upon review, then re-suspended after another 30 minutes.
Fischbach says his livestream, "A Heist with Markiplier," which was produced with YouTube Originals, was proceeding according to plan for about an hour before he learned of the suspensions. As part of the event, he encouraged viewers to comment emotes in the livestream's chat function.
According to Fischbach, his Discord chat, and Markiplier fans on the popular subreddit "r/markiplier," YouTube's automated content moderation system began banning users from their YouTube and Google accounts for "spamming," an apparent infringement of YouTube's terms and services.
Fischbach said he was not aware that posting a string of emotes in a chat box was a violation, and urged other YouTubers to spread the information so that people can avoid getting their accounts suspended.
He also noted in the video that he "never forgave" YouTube for banning his original channel in 2012 for "no reason" and denying his appeal.
"I have always held that against YouTube because I think their automated software is sometimes really bulls--t, and they want to go the automated route for everything because they just don't have the manpower to do it manually. And I get that," Fischbach said in his video.
"You need some automated systems. But when they're this bad, and when it's causing this big of a problem, and it's not just that it's causing a problem technologically speaking - this is peoples' livelihoods, this is their entire account. What are they gonna do, explain to their boss, 'Oh sorry, I can't get into my Google account, I was at a Markiplier livestream.'"
Fischbach went on to criticize YouTube's team for not getting back to him. The "Heist" livestream occurred on Wednesday, and he says he began emailing YouTube support quickly afterward. Fischbach said the people he reached out to at YouTube have yet to get back to him.
"It's so unbelievably frustrating and I hope that this is getting fixed but I gave them time to get back to me," he said in the video. "There are people that post entire pictures of d---s in live chat all the time, they don't get their account suspended. Why my fans?"
On Twitter, fans who had their accounts suspended also interacted with YouTube's "Team YouTube" account, which replies to tweets questioning content moderation decisions. One response from Team YouTube reads, "Appeals are very carefully reviewed - if your appeal is rejected, there's nothing more we can do."
In some cases, the issues faced by fans may extend beyond accessing their accounts to reaping monetary losses. As with YouTubers who have had their channels mistakenly demonetized, some of Markiplier's fans say they are getting their accounts back but with their own videos missing. Others paid for subscriptions to Fischbach's channel that are now void, and some bought premium YouTube content that they can no longer access.
"What assurance do I have that people won't be banned again during streams in the future? Why were they banned in the first place? Why ban their google accounts?" Fischbach wrote on Twitter. The @TeamYouTube account responded that the company is investigating and will follow up with him.
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