Should YouTubers Be Responsible For Their Past?

8 July 2016, 16:29 | Updated: 17 July 2017, 12:18

We the Unicorns

By Aysen Miller

We debate whether you should forgive and forget.

When something is plastered all over social media, there is no chance of escaping it. And this could never be more true for Jeffree Star after the recent racism problems. Bearing in mind the racial incident happened 10 years ago, it was extremely unprofessional and irrational nonetheless. Does the timescale mean that we should just let by-gones be by-gones, or should it be brought to light?


Being well-recognised on mainstream media means that incidents like this for popular Internet stars must never happen. Online digital presences as a whole, are in fact, the most important when it comes to responsibility. This is due to the fact that many look up to and idolise their favourite celebrities or YouTube personalities on a regular basis. With socialising the most popular form of Internet activity, it is extremely important what is said online.

This also relates back to the stigma around deleted tweets. Online celebrities are obviously entitled to have a past and have most probably deleted a few tweets here and there, something which we are all guilty of. However they are in a position of having their lives constantly documented. But, with digital growing and ever-expanding, is anything really and truly deleted from the Internet? The answer is no. New tools and technologies now allow users to access deleted tweets from any account that is verified with over 10,000 followers.

Let's think back to a time where a well known YouTuber and owner of make up brand Gerard cosmetics, insulted beauty vlogger Karina Kaboom in a video which went viral. Unlike the majority of Gerard cosmetic reviews, Karina was not gifted or sponsored the products and gave an honest review. In retaliation to this, MannyMUA and Jennifer Gerard posted a video slating the bad review and calling Karina ugly. After an explosive series of events, Manny took to Snapchat to upload a formal apology and explained the situation.

Similarly, in another incident Sam Pepper was shunned from Youtube after sexually assaulting young girls for so-called YouTube 'pranks'. The video was covered by a number of media outlets from The Mirror to The Independent, and in turn ruined his Internet career and reputation. A lot of his fans were young and impressionable, and seeing their idol targeting young girls was extremely inappropriate. Following the incident, a large campaign was vocalised to report the video which was in turn removed, and Sam lost respect from a number of fellow YouTubers who no longer wished to associate with him.

However, unlike the MannyMUA incident, Sam failed to apologise and deleted his channel.

Unsurprisingly, around 70% of Millennials value the opinion of social media stars over those of celebrities. But is this trust being abused? How many lies or bad examples will YouTubers present to their audiences without thinking of the consequences? Within the online communities, trust is a key factor, and something that YouTubers will only gain once. Trust is a commodity that is not worth losing. As soon as your once-loyal following have disappeared, Internet stardom will fade away deep into a dark, non-existent abyss.

"There's so much power in being a video blogger because you're believable and you're authentic and when you say something, it matters." - Paul Robinett, AKA Renneto

YouTubers need to understand the impact that they have on their young fans, and this also is reflected through their past behaviours. The bond between YouTubers and their subscribers is known as parasocial: a relationship between celebrities and their fans that is completely one-sided (predominantly on the internet). The dangers of this is that it can negatively affect young fans in different ways: shaping their identity, affecting self-perception and influencing their behaviour.

How much should we relate to our favourite YouTubers and is it just a case of forgive and forget for their past mistakes? What are your opinions on this? Let us know in the comments below!