The Death Note review that PewDiePie cited uses a racial slur to refer to one of the characters in the movie. The video also contains a reference to a false white nationalist conspiracy theory that Heather Heyer, the protester who was murdered at the white supremacist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017 — and whose killer was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison — actually died of a heart attack.
Instead, YouTube success takes time and dedication. Kelli Segars, the co-counder of Fitness Blender, a YouTube channel with over 5 million subscribers, spent two years posting new workout videos every week before she and her husband could quit their day jobs in 2010 to focus on the brand full time. Still, without YouTube, Fitness Blender probably wouldn’t exist. “When we first set out to create free online workout videos, we found that most streaming platforms charged so much to host content that we were never going to be able to break into the industry at all, let alone offer free content to our (then nonexistent) audience,” says Segars.
ChuChu has changed over time—it has slowed the pacing of its videos, focused on the key elements of scenes, and made more explicitly educational videos. But in the wilds of YouTube, the videos with the most views, not the most educational value, are the ones that rise to the top. ChuChu’s newer videos, which have more of the features Johnson looks for, have not had the time to hoover up as much attention, so the old ones keep appearing in YouTube searches and suggestions.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but this is almost precisely the problem that the rest of the media world finds itself in. Because quality is hard to measure, the numbers that exist are the ones that describe attention, not effect: views, watch time, completion rate, subscribers. YouTube uses those metrics, ostensibly objectively, when it recommends videos. But as Theodore Porter, the great historian of science and technology, put it in his book Trust in Numbers, “Quantification is a way of making decisions without seeming to decide.”
But each of the three videos PewDiePie featured in his since-removed shoutout of the E;R channel featured fairly obvious examples of the channel’s offensive content — in fact, not only did part one of the Death Note review that Kjellberg said he liked directly invoke a racial slur in its video description (the description has since been edited), but the first 15 seconds of part two contain a blatant reference to a 2017 incident in which Kjellberg himself dropped a racial slur, strategically edited but unmissable if you’re familiar with the clip in question — which most of Kjellberg’s followers would reasonably be.
According to ChuChu, its two largest markets are the United States and India, which together generate about one-third of its views. But each month, tens of millions of views also pour in from the U.K., Canada, Mexico, Australia, and all over Asia and Africa. Roughly 20 million times a day, a caretaker somewhere on Earth fires up YouTube and plays a ChuChu video. What began as a lark has grown into something very, very big, inflating the company’s ambitions. “We want to be the next Disney,” Chandar told me.
This year, Heather Hund and her family will gather in West Texas on December 25 and solidify a new Christmas tradition, in which each relative is randomly assigned to give a gift to another family member and to a house pet. “The rules are basically a regift for the human and then $10 for the pet,” Hund told me. “And my 18-month-old son got put in [the latter] category too, so it’s small humans and small animals.”
With 76 million subscribers, controversial gaming vlogger PewDiePie, a.k.a. Felix Kjellberg, is the most popular individual on YouTube. In a since-edited video posted on December 9, he recommended a litany of YouTube channels he said he’d been enjoying recently, briefly mentioning a YouTube channel called “E;R,” noting that it produces “great video essays,” including “one on [the Netflix movie] Death Note which I really enjoyed.” He also linked to the channel in his video description. (The recommendation has since been edited out of the video.)
Once you link your AdSense account to your YouTube account, you will receive credit for each video’s monthly revenue. Once you accumulate $100 in earnings, Google will issue a payment to your bank account. You can choose to be paid via direct deposit (not available in all countries) or check—direct deposit is the fastest method and has no fee. If you are located in the United States and earn more than $600 per year, Google will issue a 1099 form. Either way, you are required to pay income tax on your earnings.
In October 2010, Hurley announced that he would be stepping down as chief executive officer of YouTube to take an advisory role, and that Salar Kamangar would take over as head of the company. In April 2011, James Zern, a YouTube software engineer, revealed that 30% of videos accounted for 99% of views on the site. In November 2011, the Google+ social networking site was integrated directly with YouTube and the Chrome web browser, allowing YouTube videos to be viewed from within the Google+ interface.