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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

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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