- The year is just a little over halfway through, and 2019 has been a wild ride for YouTubers, from fights between beauty gurus to another Adpocalypse to an engagement that has fans questioning reality.
- This chronological list has the biggest moments in YouTube drama this year and breaks down what major stories caught YouTube fans’ attention, and what happened to the channels involved.
- Visit INSIDER’s homepage for more stories.
If you’ve been active on YouTube this year, no doubt you’ve encountered at least one scandal. Whether it’s through drama channels reporting on YouTuber feuds, complaints swarming on social media after a beauty guru’s product lauch, or a tragic update to a missing person investigation, plenty of YouTubers and their fans have been through the wringer so far in 2019.
Here’s a comprehensive timeline of every YouTuber controversy, scandal, and major news story this year.
The Ace Family’s Austin McBroom received backlash for buying a young girl a phallic-shaped lollipop.
In the video, McBroom can be heard explaining that if he didn’t buy the girl the lollipop, she would steal it. He has yet to address the video, but that didn’t stop people from condemning his actions online.
The ACE Family has over 16 million YouTube subscribers and bills itself as a family-friendly vlogging channel. The child in the video is not McBroom’s 2-year-old daughter Elle, who regularly appears in videos with his fiancée Catherine Paiz, but rather an unidentified young girl believed to be related to Paiz.
Trisha Paytas accused her boyfriend, Jason Nash, and collaborator David Dobrick of fat-shaming and bullying her.
In a now-deleted video that has been re-uploaded by other channels, Trisha Paytas engaged in one of her famous meltdowns – this time, even more dramatically than usual, since she targeted beloved vlogger David Dobrik.
Paytas accused her ex-boyfriend Jason Nash on February 3 of making “disgusting” jokes about the then-couple having a threesome with a then 20-year-old Tana Mongeau. She also criticized Dobrik for nallegedly being a bully behind the scenes.
Paytas has a history of acting out for comedic relief, but fans have a hard time discerning between the YouTuber’s reality and comedy, sometimes. Since her breakup with Nash, she has uploaded several videos about him, including one on July 2 titled “why my ex boyfriend is scared of me!”
High-profile channels complained that YouTube’s copyright claim system is being used to abuse creators.
In a now frequently discussed, ongoing YouTube scandal first addressed in videos like Hank Green’s on February 1, YouTubers have contended that the platform’s copyright claim feature is being used to abuse and extort ad money from creators large and small.
The company’s copyright claim tool has been accused of being overly susceptible to manipulation throughout the years. Hundreds of YouTubers have complained that videos with small snippets of music or copyrighted content have been seized upon by major companies, and creators have no way to fight back.
YouTubers and fans have used subreddits like /r/YouTubeCompendium to document occurrences of what they say constitute unfair copyright claims, including some saying that companies have attempted to claim original music or clips, or claim content under false pretenses.
The downside of false copyright claims is that YouTube does not have a feature enabled for the company itself to intervene when creators dispute claims, and entire channels have been demonetized or suspended over claims that creators say are unfair or untrue. While the issue picked up steam early in 2019, it has continued to remain a prevalent problem in the community.
Austin Jones, a YouTube musician, pleaded guilty to producing child pornography.
On February 1, 26-year-old YouTuber Austin Jones pleaded guilty to child pornography charges after coercing six underage fans into sending him sexually explicit videos of themselves.
Best known for his singing covers on YouTube, Jones admitted to asking underage girls to send him nude videos of themselves to prove they were his “biggest fan,” BuzzFeed reported. He also asked the underage girls to “talk about their age” in the videos.
Jones was first arrested in June 2017.
After the Christchurch shooter name-dropped PewDiePie, the subreddit /r/pewdiepiesubmissions was set to private.
Back when PewDiePie was still the most subscribed-to YouTuber, the Christchurch shooting in New Zealand on March 15 that left 51 dead embroiled him in controversy.
The shooter livestreamed himself during the attack, and before entering a mosque and opening fire, he asked watchers to “subscribe to PewDiePie.” The phrase had become a meme due to the channel’s creator, Felix Kjellberg’s, success, and Kjellberg tweeted that he was “sickened” by his mention in regard to the fatal shooting.
After the attack, the popular subreddit dedicated to PewDiePie, r/pewdiepiesubmissions, was temporarily s et to private, an action taken by moderators of a subreddit that prevents those who were not already subscribed from being able to view the subreddit or post content. The subreddit was later restored to public view.
Lori Laughlin’s daughter Olivia Jade was dropped from her Sephora contract and ceased video production after the college entrance scandal broke.
Tattoo artist and YouTuber Romeo LaCoste was exposed for sexting underage girls.
YouTuber and tattoo artist Romeo Lacoste inked several prominent YouTubers, along with celebrities like Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande, before DMs that appeared to be his were leaked in March. In conversations purported to be between Lacoste and girl as young as 15, according to YouTube drama channel Sebastian Williams, Lacoste discussed iniating sexual contact with and giving alcohol to underaged girls.
Lacoste retreated from social media, and YouTubers who had appeared in videos with him or received tattoos from him unfollowed and denounced his actions. In the messages shared by Williams, the account identified as Lacoste messages underage girls about their age, and talked about sexual acts he hoped to engage in with them.
Shane Dawson received made waves after tweeting that he has never had sex with his cat.
YouTuber Shane Dawson’s attempt to address and quell rumors that he had engaged in bestiality backfired when he tweeted, explicitly, that he had never had sex with his cat.
The tweets, in which Dawson says “I promised myself i wasnt going to make apology videos after last years thing so im just trying to be as short and honest with this as possible [sic],” sparked more controversy than had existed before, racking up over 27,000 retweets and almost 250,000 likes.
Emma Chamberlain got invited to Paris Fashion Week and got plenty of hate for it.
Emma Chamberlain hot the chance to walk a high-profile red carpet this year when she appeared at Paris Fashion Week on behalf of fashion giant Louis Vuitton. While her vlog garnered plenty of praise from her fans, the 18-year-old also received a lot of hate online.
Apart from Chamberlain’s usual detractors, plenty of commentators took issue with the fact that she was invited over YouTubers who specialize in fashion, especially since Chamberlain emphasizes her laid-back, relatable style in her life and vlogs. Throughout her Paris Fashion Week video, she herself expressed disbelief that she was chosen for the trip – however, as outlets have echoed since, Chamberlain might be one of the hardest working, trend-setting YouTubers today.
15-year-old former Musical.ly star Danielle Cohn faked a wedding and a pregnancy.
15-year-old former Musical.ly star turned YouTuber Danielle Cohn raised plenty of eyebrows when she posted a series of videos that purportedly showcased her wedding and pregnancy announcement to her 16-year-old boyfriend Mikey Tua.
Cohn’s mother told BuzzFeed News that her daughter’s wedding wasn’t real, and was actually “clickbait,” while she refused to comment on the pregnancy. Later videos showed the entire operation was a ruse, but many commentators and fans of Cohn have labeled the entire stunt irresponsible, claiming that Cohn is setting a bad example for her young followers.
Tana Mongeau fans got whiplash after she announced her ex-boyfriend had cheated on her, she had started dating Jake Paul, and had an MTV reality series in the works.
On April 28, YouTuber Tana Mongeau announced she had been cheated on by her boyfriend Brad Sousa, and that the two had split up as a result. Two days later, she posted a video with her “rebound,” and soon to be “boyfriend,” Jake Paul.
Mongeau’s fans are used to her dramatic antics, but the rapidity of her break-up, rebound, and MTV reality show announcement – the first episode of which is called “Tana Mongeau Gets Back At Her Cheating Ex” – have left many wondering what’s real versus what’s fake.
Underage women were reportedly drugged at a birthday party Jake Paul threw for rapper Desiigner in the Team 10 house.
YouTuber Jake Paul threw a $500,000 party for rapper Desiigner at the “Team 10” mansion he owns outside Los Angeles, where he and his associates live and make content. But while the party vlog went viral, at least one of Paul’s guests went to the hospital, and believes she was drugged, BuzzFeed News reported.
Paul is apparently taking the accusation “very seriously,” his lawyer told BuzzFeed News, but since at least some guests were asked to sign non-disclosure agreements upon arriving at the party, questions about what actually happened in the Team 10 house remain unsolved.
KSI’s brother accused him of emotional and physical abuse in a long-standing feud.
YouTubers and brothers Deji and KSI have engaged in a prolonged feud after making videos together, but in a video Deji posted on May 25, he recounts what he calls years of mental and emotional abuse from his brother.
Deji claimed that the passive aggressive, violent, repeated abuse from KSI was causing him to announce that he was officially cutting ties. Deji has posted repeated videos about his relationship with his brother since.
T-Series becomes the first YouTube channel to hit 100 million subscribers, surpassing PewDiePie.
After a drawn-out campaign from T-Series and PewDiePie fans alike – yes, billboards were bought – the inevitable occurred.
T-Series officially surpassed PewDiePie to become the YouTube channel with the most subscribers and the first to pass 100 million subscribers, on May 29.
Before that, T-Series briefly took the lead for five consecutive days in March, but it wasn’t until the channel hit 100 million subscribers that PewDiePie admitted genuine defeat.
ProJared was exposed for cheating on his wife and soliciting nude photos from underage fans.
Gaming YouTuber Jared “ProJared” Knabenbaur emerged at the center of a cheating scandal when he first released a statement that he and wife, cosplayer Heidi O’Ferrall, were separating after five years of marriage.
O’Ferrall then responded via Twitter to accuse Knabenbaur of cheating on her for months with YouTuber Holly Conrad (who had previously announced her divorce from YouTuber Ross O’Donovan in 2018), along with blocking her on social media.
On May 9, O’Ferrall continued to tweet that she presented Knabenbaur with evidence of his own infidelity, which he refused to admit to. Then O’Ferrall accused him of soliciting nude photos from fans, and several came forward online stating that they were underage at the time they sent the nude photos, which they said Knabenbaur pressured them to do.
Tati Westbrook and Jeffree Star caused a major blow-up with James Charles that resulted in major subscriber losses and gains.
In arguably the biggest YouTube scandal of 2019 so far, the explosive beauty community wars began after James Charles deeply offended his friend and mentor, Tati Westbrook, by promoting Sugar Bear Hair Care vitamins in exchange for Coachella tickets.
Westbrook responded first with a scathing Instagram story, and then with a bombshell video that has since been deleted, but still exists in re-uploads from other channels. In her “BYE SISTER” video, Westbrook accused Charles of disloyalty, but also sexual misconduct in the form of attempting to seduce men and boys he knew identified as heterosexual.
Charles initially responded with a since-deleted tearful apology titled “tati,” but the situation only escalated with beauty YouTuber Jeffree Star, who accused Charles of being “a danger to society” and threatened to release more incriminating information, including at one point alleging that Charles attempted to grope his former collaborator Grayson Dolan.
Charles returned to YouTube with his side of the story, after losing over 3 million subscribers (Star briefly surpassed him to become the most subscribed-to beauty YouTuber). His verison of the events alleged that Westbrook and Star made up or misconstrued accusations and that Charles was innocent of all accusations of sexual misconduct.
The three YouTubers put out statements over the following days apologizing for their roles in escalating the conflict. Westbrook uploaded a since-deleted new video, in which she said she regretted inciting such a strong backlash against Charles. Star retracted his accusations, and Charles regained some of his initial following after the incident, reclaiming his position as the most subscribed-to beauty YouTuber.
Since the incident, all three have returned to their regular posting schedules and content, with Westbrook having gained the most significant jump in followers. Other YouTubers weighed in, and new lines of friendship and allyship were drawn as a result of the feud, with Charles seemingly cutting off many of his former friends (or perhaps vice versa) in the aftermath.
Jake Paul accused Cody Ko of cyber-bullying, which was ultimately to his own detriment.
In a stunt that almost immediately backfired, Jake Paul confronted commentary YouTuber Cody Ko on May 18 in-person to accuse Ko of cyber-bullying.
The accusations didn’t just fall flat – fans of Ko (and those who are anti-Paul) pointed out that Paul, who has faced scrutiny for controversies of his own, didn’t have much of a platform to accuse someone else of cyberbullying.
Furthermore, Ko actually gained a significant number of subscribers after Paul’s video, and several other YouTubers spoke out on his behalf. Paul’s video has over 4 million views, but over 600,000 dislikes.
Vox’s Carlos Maza asked YouTube to uphold its own policies after he compiled all the times Stephen Crowder harassed him.
Jaclyn Hill’s customers reported that her new lipstick line arrived broken, with some products appearing moldy, containing hairs, or exhibiting bizarre textures.
Beauty guru Jaclyn Hill found herself in a weeks-long controversy surrounding her Jaclyn Hill Cosmetics lipstick launch that began on May 23, when she first announced her makeup line with 20 lipsticks that sold out immediately. Before products even arrived to customers, complaints were lodged over her definition of “nude lipsticks” and accusations of her editing her swatches.
But once products started to arrive, customers complained that their lipsticks came damaged or broken, with some further claiming the products had hairs lodged in them, air bubbles disfiguring them, apparent mold, or ingredients that caused bumps, itchiness, and rashes.
Hill later released an apology, saying her lipsticks were not “expired, moldy, or hazardous,” but many customers weren’t satisfied with her promise to replace their products, saying full refunds should be issued, along with a product recall, and further accusing Hill of secretly working with Morphe Cosmetics.
YouTube took down fake animal rescue videos after PayMoneyWubby uploaded an exposé of the practice.
The YouTuber PayMoneyWubby has emerged as a leading commentator on violations of YouTube guidelines that are escaping the platform’s moderation system. On June 9, he uploaded an investigation of videos posing as animal rescue attempts, which he claimed were clearly set-up animal abuse recordings for the purpose of clickbait videos that racked up millions of views.
The videos tended to show children “rescuing” dogs and cats from animals such as snakes, which looked clearly staged. These videos would thus violate YouTube’s guidelines against animal cruelty and scenes depicting purported animal distress, but the ones examined by PayMoneyWubby had millions of views.
Gizmodo published its own breakdown of the trend on June 10, along with the development that YouTube had begun removing videos flagged by the author, PayMoneyWubby, and Reddit users who had been monitoring the situation.
Claire’s recalled JoJo Siwa’s makeup lines after traces of asbestos were found in products.
Nickelodeon star and YouTuber JoJo Siwa’s makeup line at Claire’s was found to contain traces of asbestos in June, and the teen quickly responded in a video uploaded June 15, during which she confirmed that refunds would be issued to those who purchased the makeup kits in question.
Siwa confirmed that safety is her and Nickelodeon’s “number one priority.”
13-year-old ASMR YouTuber LifeWithMak addressed whether she was leaving the platform after feeling “discriminated against.”
One young YouTuber caught up in the child sexualization crisis on the platform was 13-year-old ASMR creator LifeWithMak, or Makenna. After months of having her videos removed for violating community guidelines, which Makenna spoke out against for what she considered unfair, discriminating treatment by YouTube, the creator uploaded a statement on June 17 saying she would have to leave the platform if she was unable to work with a representative of YouTube to keep her videos online.
As explained by drama channel Sebastian Williams, Makenna’s comment sections were disabled, along with other channels portraying minors, and some of her most popular videos were removed (only to be reuploaded and monetized by other channels). LifeWithMak apparently did reach a compromise with the platform, as Makenna resumed uploading videos days after her statement.
Elijah Daniel purchased the town of Hell, Michigan and renamed it Gay Hell for Pride month.
Elijah Daniel pushed more than a few buttons when he announced on June 17 that he had bought the town of Hell, Michigan and renamed it Gay Hell to protest President Donald Trump’s administration’s advisory against embassies flying pride flags.
Widespread media attention resulted in several online confrontations between Daniel and his detractors.
It was deduced that the stunt was slightly overstated in Daniel’s original post, since the YouTuber had actually only rented the town, making the name change temporary. In a previous Hell, Michigan ploy, Daniel became mayor for a day, only to have his privileges revoked when he attempted to ban straight people from the town.
Gaming YouTuber Etika committed suicide after a series of public mental health breakdowns.
The YouTube community mourned the death of 29-year-old Desmond Amofah on June 25 after the New York Police Department tweeted that the body of the gaming YouTuber, best known by his social media handle “Etika,” had officially been recovered from the East River.
Amofah publicly struggled with his mental health in the months leading up to his apparent suicide, with his original YouTube channel being suspended in October 2018 after he uploaded pornographic content to it. In the wake of his death, other YouTubers like Daniel “Keemstar” Keem have petitioned YouTube to restore his final video, in which he expressed his suicidal intentions, along with his original channel.