It’s an open secret among YouTube videobloggers that there are ways to increase views, some more controversial than others. Many amount to simple promotional tactics, like asking viewers to like a video, add a comment, or subscribe to a YouTuber’s channel.
But YouTuber Whiteboy7thst has gone public with a claim that other video creators are pulling what he calls a “scam” and violating the site’s terms of service by using automated tools, or bots, that can rocket a video to the site’s homepage.
Why the fuss? There’s just one currency in YouTube’s world, and that’s views.
One can argue the merits of this meritocracy, but the more people watch your videos, the higher your prestige in the community—and, increasingly, as Google gets better at selling ads on the site, the more money you make.
Whiteboy, in other words, is appealing to his audience’s sense of fair play, and suggesting that his rivals are profiting at the expense of other, more deserving YouTubers.
He noticed the bot, he said, when he was viewing the top Favorited YouTube videos. He cited instances where the number of favorites on a video—the times people clicked “like” on it—outnumbered the number of views, sometimes by a factor of three.
One explanation could be a well-known bug on YouTube which causes the site to display incorrect, often drastically low video view counts. While a Google representative confirmed the existence of the view-count bug, the company has yet to comment on WhiteBoy7thst’s allegations of bot activity.
TheGUNNShop, another prominent YouTuber, recently made a video addressing the bot issue in response to WhiteBoy7thst. He begins his video, titled “YouTube Greed and Corruption | Exposed” with a preface:
“Although I was previously aware that many well-known directors were using like and favorite bots, I was not comfortable covering this topic until I had proof that such techniques were being used. “
At 11 minutes, TheGUNNShop’s video might seem dauntingly long, but touches on important issues, from tactics used to increase views on a video to what he claims is a “huge bot network” on YouTube. TheGUNNShop also calls WhiteBoy7thst the “Al Capone of YouTube.”
That may be unfair. Other members of the YouTube community have jumped on the bandwagon, calling Whiteboy7thst a hypocrite for urging people to favorite his video in order to “spread the word.”
TheGUNNShop claims Whiteboy’s tactics “manipulate” his subscriber base. But those charges amount to criticizing Whiteboy for being popular and having loyal fans.
Whiteboy is claiming something very different: that machines, not humans, are doing the clicking on YouTube.
We’ll keep you updated if we’re able to turn up something conclusive on these claims of bot activity. In the meantime, here’s a new way to gain views on YouTube: Spread conspiracy theories and launch unproven accusations against top YouTubers.