These days our Google Accounts are tied to more and more aspects of our lives — our smart homes, our email inbox, and even our livelihoods as YouTubers or Android developers are all tied to one universal Google Account. Some fans of Markiplier this week have been banned from their entire Google Account due to spamming emotes on a YouTube stream that encouraged emotes.
Earlier this week, Markiplier, a popular YouTuber, ran a livestream of his recent “A Heist with Markiplier” YouTube Original. What sets “A Heist with Markiplier” apart is that it’s an interactive video, offering viewers choices to make, similar to Netflix’s recent “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.”
Rather than streaming one predetermined pathway through the story, Markiplier let the stream’s viewers to vote on which path to take by using Markiplier’s custom red and green colored paddle emotes in the chat, somewhat similar to the famous “Twitch Plays Pokémon” streams. As you would expect from this sort of voting-based livestream event, the chat was inundated with these paddle emotes, with some posting numerous emotes per message.
As the stream progressed, however, some of the viewers found that YouTube had automatically either suspended or banned their accounts for the emote spam. With those affected being removed from the stream chat, it was difficult for word of the problem to get out, and the Markiplier stream’s mods didn’t find out until over an hour into the stream.
Critically, some of those whose YouTube accounts were banned also found that their entire Google Account had been banned as well, preventing access to Gmail, Google Docs, Google Drive and every other Google service. Markiplier shared examples of at least five people whose accounts had been disabled.
Even worse, many of those who submitted appeals to their bans were rejected. To that point, Markiplier shares that while YouTube bans are automatic, some replies from Team YouTube’s Twitter account indicate appeals are reviewed by humans. If true, this means that YouTube is willfully maintaining the ban.
Needless to say, the punishment of having your entire Google Account banned far exceeds the “crime” of spamming emotes, even without taking into account that the stream itself encouraged the excess use of emotes.
On the flip side, though, there could be other factors at play, such as certain accounts already having strikes against them on YouTube. We’ve reached out to Google for comment and clarification on why these bans occurred.
In a statement to Newsweek, a Google spokesperson said that “our teams have reinstated a number of accounts and are investigating.” Conversely, some are claiming that those whose bans were reversed are finding their YouTube videos locked or removed.
Update 3:00pm: We spoke with a Google spokesperson who repeated the comment given to Newsweek, and pointed to Team YouTube’s official statement to Markiplier on Twitter.
Hello. I appreciate the update but there are still issues. Not all accounts are reinstated. Some are missing videos. What assurance do I have that people won’t be banned again during streams in the future? Why were they banned in the first place? Why ban their google accounts?
— Markiplier (@markiplier) November 9, 2019
For his part, Markiplier is taking it personally and very seriously. Be sure to watch his heartfelt (and expletive-filled) video apologizing to those affected, explaining what seems to have happened, and laying out his next steps to take action to get YouTube to reverse course.
The level of “spam” seen in Markiplier’s stream is a far cry from the spam seen in almost any popular Twitch stream chat. If YouTube wants to gain market share as a video game streaming platform over incumbent Twitch and newcomer Mixer — especially with Google Stadia now less than two weeks away — they need to find a way to reverse course and show that an incident like this will not happen again.
If the video above is any proof, some of their most loyal YouTubers are losing faith in the company’s decision making.
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