Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has become a worldwide phenomenon.
The site’s revolutionary concept of hosting user-uploaded content has given a voice to hundreds of thousands of people across the globe.
Of course, with almost no limits as to who may post to YouTube, there have existed some truly controversial channels over the course of the site’s short history.
Here are five of the strangest YouTube controversies.
The fact that in 2006, Lonelygirl15 was one of the biggest channels on YouTube shows just how much the platform has changed.
Her early videos consisted mainly of vlogs about her life: what hobbies she enjoyed, her experiences at school, etc…
Her content was the pinnacle of ordinary, and this is likely what resonated with her fans, who saw their own lives reflected in hers.
However, as time went on, Lonelygirl15 began to drop more and more hints that her life was perhaps not as ordinary as they seemed.
She would make vague allusions to her family’s “unique” religious beliefs and the secretive group they belonged to.
Viewers were quick to assume that Lonelygirl15 belonged to a cult.
Amidst growing public concern for her wellbeing, however, she felt compelled to confess that her videos were part of a scripted web series, making the Lonelygirl15 channel one of the earliest examples of an ARG.
Created in 2007, AtheneWins was a gaming channel that depicted a Belgian man Bachir Boumaaza—who used the pseudonym Athene—playing World of Warcraft. A mostly innocuous channel, AtheneWins and channels like it were the precursors to the modern-day Twitch streamer.
Athene’s popularity extended into the early 2010s, during which time he raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable organizations.
Revered as the “good guy of gaming,” Athene gave no public indication as to what he would soon become.
As the relevance of his channel began to fade, Athene began to survive solely on donations from his most devoted fans.
Unfortunately, he took further advantage of their dedication, creating The Singularity Group in the mid-2010s.
The Singularity Group is comprised of Athene and his most diehard loyalists; they live together under strict rules set forth by Athene.
In 2019, gaming journalist Chris Bratt published the results of his investigation into the organization and alleged that Athene was emotionally manipulating his followers. Of course, Athene denied this.
Similar to Lonelygirl15, Daxflame was a channel consisting of a vlogger, Dax, relating stories about his supposed real life as a socially awkward teenager.
By the end of 2007, his channel had accumulated over 60,000 subscribers, a monumental accomplishment for the time period, especially considering that the content of his videos was quite limited.
The controversy surrounding Daxflame stemmed from accusations that his videos were not based on his real life, that he was instead portraying a character.
While this seems irrelevant, it was, for whatever reason, a huge talking point amongst the YouTube community in the late-2000s, with another popular YouTuber Sigafoo going as far as to make a ~30 minute video “exposing” Daxflame.
Whether his early vlogs were based on his real life or not, Daxflame is still active today and has enjoyed moderate success as a film actor, the once hot controversy now just an example of the silliness of the early days of YouTube.
Hiding in My Room
In 2018, a YouTuber called Hiding in My Room posted a video called “Why I Have No Friends,” in which he, Daniel, explained to viewers why he saw no benefit to friendship.
To his shock, the video accumulated over 1,000,000 views, prompting Daniel to continually push out content; with each video, he delved deeper into nihilism, leading viewers to perceive him as an enigmatic hermit of sorts.
However, Daniel eventually revealed that he was in fact married. From this point on, he proceeded to document his and his wife’s heated fights, which were more frequent than those of any healthy couple.
As one might expect, their annoyance with one another led to divorce.
Post-separation, Daniel continued to vlog, now further reinforcing his nihilistic attitude towards human relationships.
In an interview with Elvis the Alien, he revealed that the whole situation had been a sham.
While he and his wife did briefly separate, they had since reconciled.
His pessimistic post-divorce vlogging was merely an attempt to maintain the nihilistic character he had created.
In August 2007, a YouTuber called Randytaylor69, whose real name was Rose, began vlogging.
Like some of the users discussed previously, her vlogs were as run-of-the-mill as vlogs can be.
She would discuss the details of her seemingly ordinary life: her hobbies, her relationships, etc… In 2011, she posted an instructional video entitled “How to Build a PC.”
For whatever reason, this video was posted to various message boards, including the notorious 4chan.
This was the catalyst to Rose attracting an obsessive fanbase.
She was subsequently stalked and harassed to the point at which she unfortunately felt there was no other choice but for her to leave YouTube.
But the story doesn’t end there. Even in her absence, her fanbase continued to grow.
Fan-made subreddits, Twitter pages, Steam communities, and more continue to bolster her legacy.
She currently holds around ~130k subscribers. (When she left YouTube, she held ~10k.)
So far, Rose has not responded to this dramatic spike in interest.