YouTube, still a great way to harass people anonymously

About two years ago I woke up, checked my phone, and had a notification in the Android system notifications (top bar,) that someone knew where I lived and was going to come and kill my children. A quick check of where the notification came in from indicated it was a YouTube comment on a video where one of my kids appeared, and I was able to click the account that posted the threat and determined it was basically just going through and crap posting everywhere.

TL;DR – there’s a problem with YouTube comments, I reported it two years ago, YouTube did nothing, here’s how it works (as far as I can tell).

Not the death threat comment

I contacted Google and YouTube and explained that someone had threatened me and the kiddos and was told to report the message by flagging it. Well, here’s the problem, the message was not there. It was not visible on the comments, it was not visible in YouTube Studio. The poster had deleted it, meaning there was no way to flag it. I got an email, and I got a notification, but there’s not a thing to flag and the person threatening knew this.

I explained to the rep that was how people were anonymously threatening people and the helpful folks at YouTube ghosted me. I was referred to various support options and basically got that it was going to be a monumental waste of time trying to contact them to track down Gary in Egypt who was harassing people left and right. I was told repeatedly to flag the message. There is no message.

Over the course of the past couple of years there’s only been the one threat, lot of insults, but spammers gonna spam so it’s slowly becoming a vector for that as well.

Today I got the same Android notification (minus the threat, just an insult,) and subsequent email, no way to delete or report a comment. It’s in the picture above and I suspect that the account was hacked.

Same vector.

Comments I have access to it never appears, it’s not in held for review either, nor on the page they comment on, profiles are up, yadda yadda.

Create or hack a Google account, comment on a video, wait 20 seconds, delete comment. Hell, all but one of the accounts that spammed or threatened me are still there so you probably don’t even have to do step one. You can report the profile, but generally the profiles are just people’s accounts with nothing to raise suspicions.

All YouTube really needs to do here is add a “report poster” link in the email, or you know perhaps have Studio have a collection of deleted comments that can be flagged. Relatively simple fix to patch the anonymous threatening/spamming/harassing ability.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts