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Did YouTube Shadowban PewDiePie?

PewDiePie is the darling of YouTube. Even though he isn't universally loved and has made several enemies over the years, he still has well over 100 million fans, and each of his videos attracts several million views. However, disaster seemingly struck YouTube's unofficial mascot when, for a limited amount of time, PewDiePie disappeared from the platform. Rumors spread that YouTube had shadowbanned him, and virtually everyone asked, "Why?" Why would YouTube shadowban the guy who broke so many records on YouTube? Thankfully, this story has a happy ending.


First, however, you might need a quick explanation of what a "shadowban" is. A shadowban is the term for making a content creator's videos (or blog posts, comments, or anything else for that matter) less readily available to audiences. Normally, content is one search engine query away, but with a shadowban, the viewer has to jump through hoops to find what they're looking for. Unlike normal bans, which delete the content outright along with the associated account, shadowbans are stealthier. Audiences and content creators might not know someone is shadowbanned unless they start a deep dive into the shadowbanned account.

The problems started during the afternoon of Oct. 22, when Twitter users reported PewDiePie had seemingly disappeared from YouTube. Searches for his account came up fruitless. If you typed in his name, plenty of copycats accounts appeared up, but the official PewDiePie channel was nowhere to be found. You could also search for other prominent content creators, and their channels would appear just fine.


Fans could not find PewDiePie's channel via search, and his videos had seemingly disappeared down the digital drain — his newer videos, at least. PewDiePie's older videos, however, showed up in YouTube searches. And, to make matters worse, this issue was affecting Pewd's metrics. According to Twitter user Def Noodles, virtually all of PewDiePie's videos save one had vanished from YouTube's top search results, and his latest video only received 34,000 views. Since PewDiePie usually garners many more views in one hour, something was clearly up.

As soon as word hit the internet, viewers started looking for PewDiePie and confirmed that he had indeed seemingly disappeared from YouTube, and rumor spread that he had been shadowbanned. However, YouTube quickly responded and started researching the problem. The company also stated quite plainly that it "doesn't shadowban channels." The best explanation YouTube could give was its systems had flagged a PewDiePie video as "potentially violative" and it had to be reviewed — but that only answered the question why Pewd's videos might not have shown up in searches, not why his channel disappeared.

Moreover, the majority of commenters didn't believe YouTube's explanation. Some even went so far as to label the announcement as a blatant lie, claiming that YouTube does indeed shadowban accounts.


YouTube went on to state that reviewing and reinstating PewDiePie's channel would take time due to limited staffing, and the problem was cleared several hours later. Pewd's channel and latest videos started appearing as normal, but the question remains what caused the problem in the first place? Was it a glitch as YouTube proclaims, or did the company actually shadowban PewDiePie and get called out for it? So far, nobody has any answers.

While PewDiePie is one of the most prolific content creators to be purportedly shadowbanned by YouTube, he isn't alone. In June, tech reviewer Legacy Studio claimed he had been shadowbanned, as many of his subscribers reported they weren't receiving video upload notifications. Moreover, this isn't the first time reports of PewDiePie's banning were greatly exaggerated.

In 2019, PewDiePie claimed he was banned in China because he talked about the protests in Hong Kong and likened the Chinese president Xi Jinping to Winnie the Pooh (a common comparison that has resulted in a slew of censorship and bans, as well as Devotion being removed from Steam). However, PewDiePie's self-professed ban claims turned out to be false. China's version of Google, Baidu, and dedicated video sites showed millions of PewDiePie-centric search results at the time of Pewd's claim.


While this chapter of PewDiePie's career is officially closed, it still scared plenty of fans despite only lasting several hours. The speed at which news spread of Pewd's potential shadowban — and at which YouTube fixed the issue — demonstrates PewDiePie's clout. It doesn't matter what happens to him or the veracity of the claims, PewDiePie doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.