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YouTube’s unsubscribe bug ends tonight

The video-sharing site still denies the bug ever existed.


Fruzsina Eördögh

Internet Culture

Posted on May 25, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 4:36 pm CDT

The subscriber bug that has plagued YouTubers for months and caused much hand-wringing over the last week, is finally being addressed by YouTube.

Sort of.

On Wednesday, after YouTube published a blog post denying that the subscriber bug even existed, the video-sharing community sharpened their pitchforks and protested in every way they could online. The subscribe bug both annoyed viewers and cost producers audience. At the protest’s height, #fixyoutube, trended briefly worldwide on Twitter.

YouTube quickly changed its tune that evening and asked its users to submit proof that they had been involuntarily unsubscribed from their favorite channels. Onision, who started the protest last Friday, collected user information on Facebook and through a YouTube video. Others followed suit, including HappyCabbie. Still other prominent YouTubers, including Shane Dawson, and Michael Buckley, also complained about the issue.

Even so, YouTube still denied the unsubscribe bug Thursday in a phone conversation with Onision.

“Basically they said, they checked on your guys’ accounts and saw that you were still subscribed to us still, and therefore they assume that it wasn’t a problem” said Onision in a video on the latest development. He didn’t accept that argument, however.  

“When person A realizes they are no longer subscribed to person B, they’re going to automatically re-subscribe themselves, so of course they’re going to be subscribed” when YouTube checks their accounts, Onision explained.

“YouTube continues to imply that hundreds of you guys do not know what you are talking about, and you just don’t understand the new subscription system,” Onision said.

Normally when someone looks at a channel they are subscribed to, a green checkmark will show up on the subscribe button (or in their subscription boxes). Users were not seeing this button, and so they resubscribed.

In a blog post today addressing these concerns, YouTube maintained that this subscriber loss is due to the removal of dead or inactive accounts.

“On Wednesday, we reminded you that we’ve been removing closed accounts from YouTube over the last several months, which has caused many of you to see decreases in your subscriber counts,” the YouTube team wrote. “We’re doing this because these accounts do not drive views to your channel.

“Today, the last of these accounts will be removed, meaning you can expect to see additional decreases in your subscriber counts throughout the day. This will conclude the removal process, so starting tomorrow your subscriber counts will reflect actual changes in your subscriptions.”

The post did not address the very active subscribers who noticed they were no longer following the YouTubers they thought they were.  

“Just wondering, what qualifies as a ‘dead’ or inactive account?” asked Matthew Harris, director of public relations at Yeousch, an online gaming network trying to compete with Machinima, on Google+.

“With reports from YouTubers like Tobuscus and others saying viewers have been noticing they’ve been un-subscribed from their channels, I’m curious how you are sorting these out.”

If you believe users’ complaints, YouTube isn’t sorting them out. But at least today is the last day they’ll be unsubscribing people—inactive or not.

Photo by YouTube Creators/Google+

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*First Published: May 25, 2012, 6:57 pm CDT