YouTube is by far the world’s largest video sharing site with users uploading hundreds of hours of content every minute. It’s impossible for humans to vet every video that goes up, so Google has turned to automated systems that cannot be reasoned with. Some particularly unscrupulous people have realized that Google’s YouTube copyright strike system makes a good extortion tool, so they’re using it to threaten YouTubers.
Stories of inaccurate copyright strikes are common on YouTube, but they’re not usually the result of something malicious. ObbyRaidz is a smaller creator who mostly makes Minecraft videos for his channel. All was well until this month when a company called ViperHCF made copyright claims on two of ObbyRaidz’s videos. Under YouTube’s three-strike system, one more violation would lead Google to disable his account. Copyright strikes expire in a few months, but the scammers are threatening to deliver that all-important third strike unless plays ball.
The alleged scammer reached out to ObbyRaidz on Twitter and offered to remove the strikes, but not for free. Someone going by “VengefulFlame” claimed to represent ViperHCF, saying they would remove the claims on his videos in exchange for $150 on PayPal or $75 in Bitcoin. The Twitter DM goes on to say that ObbyRaidz would get a third strike if he refused to pay. The scammer delivered the ultimatum in a very matter-of-fact way, inviting ObbyRaidz to think it over for a short time and reminding him he can cancel the PayPal payment if they don’t live up to the agreement. The Twitter account that delivered the threats is still active but set to private.
ObbyRaidz reached out to YouTube support but has yet to get in contact with a real person. He’s filed appeals of the strikes, but they have been automatically denied. This is the unfortunate nature of YouTube — there are far too many people using the platform for every issue to get a proper hearing.
At the time of the incident, ObbyRaidz only had about 5,000 subscribers. If someone tried to extort money from a YouTuber with a few million subs, it’s likely a human from YouTube would get involved. Since publicizing the extortion attempt earlier this week, ObbyRaidz has gained about two thousand more subs. That’s probably not enough for any special treatment, but getting the story out there might help. We can only hope that someone at the company realizes this is a problem and reaches out to ObbyRaidz.