YouTube has been plagued with spam issues as it grows. Bots spam either a YouTuber’s comments or live chat sections with links to vulgar or adult content. Some bots target each user’s comments in a video as it impersonates the uploader. According to a YouTube spokesperson, the platform has removed over 3.4 million channels, over 339,000 videos and over 950 million comments in the last quarter of 2021 for violating policies regarding spam, scams and deceptive practices.
Virtual YouTuber Xenon of Thailand’s VTOPIA agency has his channel terminated by YouTube on May 6 due to adult content. However, fellow Thai VTuber Kinari Hoku from Polygon Project explains his situation to the global audience.
Days after this incident, the number of VTubers with terminated YouTube channels increased. The YouTube spam bot problem has led to a temporary ban of some VTubers in Southeast Asia as well as Japan—including Nijisanji’s Mika Melatika and Hololive Indonesia 3rd Generation member Kobo Kanaeru.
As described by Mika herself, different bot accounts have spammed the same vulgar thing in live chat. Moderators who are tasked to take out these comments from the chat log had to work faster, but YouTube’s artificial intelligence has already caught up with the spam and penalized the violating channel with a termination.
The affected personalities raised their concerns to Team YouTube on Twitter. VTubers who have active Twitch accounts have adapted to the situation quickly, proceeding with their schedule as is. Mika and Kobo’s YouTube channels are now reinstated after a day, but some VTubers took at least a week to get their channels back.
Lulana Winternyx from Indonesia took 5 rejected appeals in a span of almost a week until YouTube lifted the ban on her channel—and within that period, she set up a second channel just to continue.
The VTuber community finds ways to avoid such untoward incidents. Shabir from the popular Velo City channel has provided a list of tips VTubers and YouTubers alike can take while YouTube addresses the spam bot issue, such as not displaying the chat on live stream, using the blocked words feature and enabling slow mode in live chat.
DJ ShinDion of Vibetronic Music has a detailed step-by-step thread on how to utilize the blocked words feature on YouTube Studio, including a link to a list of more than 2000 words which can be used to deter spam bots in chat and comments. Hololive announced on Twitter that they are taking countermeasures such as limiting comments on live streams and to allow only subscribers to chat with their talents.
Until YouTube successfully finds a way to thwart spam bot attacks, content creators including VTubers have to adapt to the situation by either moving operations to a sub-channel or a Twitch channel.
Photo: Kobo Kanaeru © 2016 Cover Corp / Mika Melatika © ANYCOLOR Inc. / YouTube / AC Composite