YouTube Creators Just Experienced A Mass Follower Exodus

YouTube says it simply made subscriber counts more accurate, but some are crying foul

It's goin' down.
Jun 30, 2016 at 3:09 PM ET

A cold wind blew across the YouTube community on Tuesday as creators watched large swaths of their subscribers seemingly vanish into the digital ether, bringing about many theories that the company was up to something. But YouTube maintains the change is the result of fixing a bug which was displaying inaccurate subscriber counts, and that the subscriber counts shown now are what should have been there to begin with.

The issue was first addressed in a tweet from Team YouTube, followed by an article in the Help Center. The company explained the problem as being the result of a bug that had “prevented changes in subscriber counts from being accurately displayed publicly on creators’ channels,” adding that the public-facing counts have been corrected, aligning with the subscriber counts found in YouTube analytics, which were accurate from the get go. Some, however, believe a platform-wide purge was the cause.

Shacknews alleged that the Great UnSubscribing was the result of Google deciding to remove inactive YouTube accounts from the subscriber counts of creators, estimating that an average of 1 to 2 percent of subscriptions were lost by content creators. Some YouTubers, however, are alleging losses far greater.

YouTube golden boy PewDiePie posted a screenshot of SocialBlade, a follower tracking platform that indicated he lost over 600,000 followers in one day. (He later posted a video joking about the loss.)

While YouTube isn’t responding to press inquiries regarding any possible mass deleting of inactive accounts, it’s a popular theory amongst the conspiracy-inclined. Analytics company Social Blade claimed that the activity caused its servers to crash, and elsewhere on Twitter, users are reporting that they were unsubscribed from accounts they actively followed. Now, YouTubers of all degrees of fame are tweeting angrily at YouTube’s account, demanding to know where their tens, hundreds, and thousands of followers went, while begging their followers to make sure that they’re still subscribed to their channels.

Other YouTubers, however, managed to maintain their chill. YouTuber Chilled Chaos, who “lost” 26,000 followers yesterday, told Vocativ that “At the end of the day the subscriber count is just a number. I would be a bit more worrisome if views or engagement was getting incorrectly reported.” Referencing YouTube’s blog post, he stated that he believed the public subscriber numbers now better match their internal ones.

“As for people getting unsubbed, that is definitely a real problem although I don’t think yesterday had anything to do with it,” he said, referencing a phenomenon that people have discussed for years. “I feel the news of YouTube changing subscription numbers made people double check who they were subbed to, and they found out they were unsubbed (from a previous purge).”

While we may never know exactly what happened, one thing’s for certain: it’s a sad day for those that tie their worth to their subscriber count. (Oh, and on an unrelated note, please be sure to like, comment, and subscribe.)