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YouTube was supposed to be a dating site, if you can imagine

Co-founder Steve Chen said that's how the service started.


Jaya Saxena

Internet Culture

Posted on Mar 16, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 2:09 am CDT

YouTube is the Internet’s premier source for makeup tutorials, “epic” food videos, and amazing remixes, but according to co-founder Steve Chen, it was supposed to be a dating site. Tinder with video? We shudder.

“We thought dating would be the obvious choice,” Chen said at a SXSW conference. People would have uploaded videos describing themselves and what they were looking for in a partner, as with the video dating services of the pre-Internet era. Which are now, ironically, immortalized on YouTube.

Apparently, after five days of that business model, nobody had uploaded a video—so the founders opened the platform to all manner of content, and YouTube as we know it was born. 

But just what sort of features would YouTube dating have provided?

  • Potential dates reading mean tweets about themselves.

  • Videos you think are matches but are just other people’s reviews of those matches—and you can never find the original.

  • Matches that you thought were new but are actually from four years ago.

  • Users publicly commenting on your videos without even wanting to date you. In fact, specifically saying how much they don’t want to date you.

  • Weird little popups all over your potential date, asking you to subscribe to their other channels.

  • Dick vids.

Anyway, that’s the alternate history, but it doesn’t matter. Everyone knows that YouTube is for pointing out elephants.

H/T The Guardian | Illustration by Max Fleishman

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*First Published: Mar 16, 2016, 2:01 pm CDT