From the man pretending to be Zoe Sugg to talk to young girls online, to a series of horrific cases involving YouTubers facing sexual assault claims, people would be ignorant to ignore the darker side of the Internet and the way social media can be manipulated for bad. The NSPCC, a children’s charity, have not only offered guidance to young people about how to stay safe online; but also to YouTubers and online stars themselves, about how to conduct themselves when speaking to fans online.
Despite the fact it’s such a huge part of our every day lives, YouTube is still such a new platform and the concept of the “online celebrity” is even more fresh. For the majority of YouTubers, they never set out to be famous, but to make videos they enjoyed and that would hopefully entertain. And thanks to social media and the (wonderful) sense of community, lines can be blurred; and it’s hard to know what can be seen as being dedicated to your fans and enjoying the community, and actually being part of something that could be seen as “overstepping the mark”.
With everyone from Sam Pepper to Alex Day and Jason from VeeOneEye being accused of mental and sexual assault on both fans and fellow creators, it’s important we as a community don’t stay silent and address and call out people when needs be.
Speaking to the BBC, Emily Cherry of the NSPCC said YouTubers had a “responsibility” towards their behaviour to fans and goes on to explain just how important social media can be to young teens who literally live their lives online. And whist the social media stars who abuse their position of trust are in the tiny minority, it’s an issue we’ll continue to see brought up, so long as YouTube continues its growth at such a rapid rate.
YouTube themselves are highly aware of the problem and YouTube’s Thea O’Hear spoke to the BBC about how stars were responsible for their own conduct on the platform:
“As a company we have very clear community guides which set out the rules of the road on YouTube. It’s really important that creators are aware of the responsibilities that come with having a big audience and a global fan base. We also try to provide practical support and guidance to creators to help them create the right kind of content and have the right kind of interaction with their fans.
It’s also around parents being involved, and schools, and everybody having a really good understanding of what it is to be a young person in the 21st Century. We at YouTube are also growing with the community. Often we create tools in response to community feedback. YouTube would terminate the channel of someone who has broken our guidelines.“
The NSPCC have advised people on how to stay safe online with the following pointers:
- Never share your personal information online
- Do not accept friend requests from people you don’t know in real life
- Have conversations with your parents about where you are going and what you are doing online
What do you think of the advice? And do you think the lines can become blurred between creator and fan? If you’ve been effected by any of the above please do speak to someone. The NSPCC can be contacted on 0808 800 500 2.