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The Worst YouTube Trends That Plague the Platform

worst youtube trends

We all love YouTube, and that’s not just an opinion! YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine and is also a runner-up in the all-time number of website visits, just behind Google! So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it has accrued quite a substantial audience. If we’re going to talk in numbers, according to Hootsuite, the platform has more than two billion active users, and people consume over 500 hours of content every minute. But despite our adoration for the platform, YouTube has had (and still has) its ups and downs. Out of all online video platforms, YouTube has had some of the worst trends throughout the years.

For anyone who’s been on the internet for a while, that shouldn’t be surprising. We all know how the online ecosystem works — the more popular an online platform or service gets, the more prone it becomes to controversy. Although we can’t blame the company for some of these worst YouTube trends, it did play a significant part in others. 

Some of these trends are goofy or outright ridiculous, while others have even alienated a significant portion of YouTube’s audience. At times, it goes so far that it wouldn’t surprise us if many of the affected creators jumped the boat the moment a competitive YouTube alternative popped up.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves or be a negative Nancy here! It’s time to look at some of the worst YouTube trends ever!

10 Worst YouTube Trends of Recent Years

Note that these trends are not arranged in any particular order, so don’t think there’s a “grading” system to them. Here are the worst YouTube trends we’d all like to go away:

  1. Viral Challenges
  2. Clickbaity Titles
  3. “Exposed” Videos
  4. YouTube Demonetization
  5. Over-The-Top Self-Promotion
  6. Clickbaity Thumbnails
  7. YouTube Drama
  8. False Copyright Flagging / DMCA Abuse
  9. Dangerous Stunts
  10. YouTube Censorship

Without further ado, let’s get into it!

1. Viral Challenges

The internet has seen its fair share of viral challenges throughout the years, and YouTube is no exception. We’re sure most people would agree with the sentiment that these kinds of videos are pretty pointless. However, it’s also a fact that many people still enjoy them. So what’s the catch here? 

We would guess that there is something inexplicably exciting about watching other people do stupid stuff. Perhaps it’s an evolutionary thing — maybe we just like to feel smarter and superior, so we enjoy this kind of content. Who knows? 

Anyhow, YouTube has seen plenty of viral challenges over the years, some of which you’re likely already well familiar with. Despite the fact many people consider these funny, many can be quite dangerous. So if you ask us, the world (and YouTube) would be a better place without these.

Here are a few examples of some of the most popular viral YouTube challenges of recent years:

The Ice Bucket Challenge

Whoever thought that pouring ice-cold water over themselves was a good idea was… apparently a genius? As ridiculous (and potentially dangerous) as it was, the ice bucket challenge was incredibly popular; even many Hollywood celebrities and Silicon Valley giants tried their hand at it.

Condom Challenge

Don’t worry; it’s not what you think! This ridiculous challenge is entirely PG. For some unknown reason, people concluded that filling up a condom with water and throwing it on top of their heads was funny. Well… The internet agreed, so it became a viral YouTube trend. And that’s how we got the condom challenge.

The Ghost Pepper Challenge

This challenge has many shapes and forms, but they all entail eating an incredibly hot pepper. Should we even mention that doing that can be dangerous? As you might have already deducted, the internet doesn’t take hazard into account when coming up with these challenges, so… There we go.

2. Clickbaity Titles

Don’t we all love the smell of betrayal in the morning? OK, maybe we’re exaggerating, but you can’t deny that you sometimes feel betrayed after viewing a video only to realize it was a clickbait. This practice is widely frowned upon, but most people still do it. But why is that?

Unfortunately, the answer is quite simple — it works. And views feed the YouTube algorithm… at least that’s what they say.

Clickbaits have been around for years now, and there is no indication of them stopping anytime soon. Unfortunately, all we can do is learn to see through them. In that spirit, here’s a quick guide on identifying clickbait titles.

  • They include the phrases “gone wrong,” “gone sexual,” or similar.
  • They are overly sexual, lewd, or suggestive.
  • TITLES ARE IN ALL CAPS.
  • They include “NOT CLICKBAIT” or any variation of the phrase.
  • They include a blatantly wrong statement or are blatantly ignorant about a sensitive topic.

Now that you’re well-equipped to recognize clickbait, you can now contribute to improving the YouTube ecosystem by avoiding these videos! Or… you can use this as a guide to writing some clickbait titles yourself.

Oh no… What have we done?

3. “Exposed” Videos

These videos are single-handedly one of the worst YouTube trends ever. One could even say they are the bane of the platform’s existence. There hasn’t been a single quality “exposed” video since iDubbbz’s “Content Cop” series a few years ago.

Our advice would be to look the other way whenever you see an “exposed” video. These are mostly aimed at causing creator vs. creator drama, which only damages the YouTube ecosystem.

But if these videos are so harmful, why are they so popular? Well… For the same reason reality shows are so popular — people love conflict. And when it’s on camera, it’s even more exciting.

Don’t get us wrong; that is not a good thing. But it’s the sad truth. Although the platform would be a better place without this kind of content, we don’t see that happening anytime soon. Here’s one  recent example:

This video was just one of many in a large-scale creator vs. creator war between Daniel Keem and Ethan Klein, two multi-million subscriber YouTubers, that inflicted permanent damage to many creators’ incomes due to “sponsorship wars” that ensued. If you’re interested in more about the conflict and its consequences, you can find additional info here.

4. YouTube Demonetization

Back in 2017, many of YouTube’s creators’ livelihoods became endangered once advertisers started withdrawing their ads from the platform. That’s when the first adpocalypse began. Unfortunately, the situation didn’t improve in the slightest to this day, and YouTube has only become stricter in their monetization criteria in their attempt to cater to advertisers. When you couple that with the incredibly flawed demonetization bot that YouTube uses to handle this issue, you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.

If you need help and useful tips on avoiding getting demonetized on YouTube, give our article on how to survive the YouTube demonetization apocalypse a read!

Because creators can now get demonetized at any time without explanation and have to wait for days, sometimes even weeks to get a response on their demonetization appeal, many YouTubers were forced to look for alternative sources of income. That has led to the rise of another horrible YouTube trend…

5. Over-The-Top Self-Promotion

Unfortunately, over-the-top self-promotion is a necessity for many creators nowadays, but it’s still one of the worst YouTube trends out there. In the era where creators’ futures on the platform depend on their sponsorship deals, accruing the most subscribers as possible is a must. The more subscribers a creator has, the more likely they’ll be to attract big sponsors. So despite being tired of hearing the same old “Don’t forget to smash that like button and subscribe” line thousands of times, we understand their struggles.

The same applies to when we have to listen to the same, boring sponsored ads time and time again. Some of these even became living memes on the platform (we’re looking at you, Raid Shadow Legends).

But can we do anything about this hated trend? Not much. It is YouTube that controls the field here, and they’re doing little to improve the monetization conditions for their creators. The only way we see this trend going away would be if the creators considered some YouTube monetization alternatives to offset their current revenue loss. Who knows? Maybe that would even force YouTube to make some changes to their policies. 

6. Clickbaity Thumbnails

Just like their older cousins, titles, video thumbnails are not exempt from clickbait practices. You know what we mean… If you’ve been to YouTube even once, you have undoubtedly seen plenty of these. Since you already know how annoying they can be, let’s immediately illustrate what clickbait thumbnails look like.

  • They use intriguing, but short pieces of text (usually in all caps and different colors).
  • They make the content sound sensational (and it’s often not).
  • Clickbait thumbnails almost always include a surprised or freaked out image of the creator or a well-known meme.
  • Most of them slap on an emoji for good measure.
  • They often use emotions to trick you into clicking.

Now that you know how to identify these, we come bearing good news. Unlike with clickbait titles, you can do something to get rid of these! If you wish to rid yourself of this annoying YouTube practice, you can do so using this Chrome extension. Enjoy your new clickbait-free thumbnails!

7. YouTube Drama

Drama is not just one of the worst YouTube trends ever, but it also applies to our everyday lives. Unfortunately, as we’ve mentioned previously, many people love it for some unknown reason. And they don’t just enjoy watching it; many like actively participating. And since YouTube is a platform where anyone can create content and participate, there’s a wide variety of people of different dispositions. That means drama is inevitable.

2020 has had a particularly rough start both in the real world and on YouTube. We have already seen plenty of creator-on-creator drama this year, let alone since the platform’s early days. Some of the cases we’ve had so far were:

There are many more, but it would take all day to list them all.

These happenings are becoming increasingly prominent on the platform, which is quite worrisome. Unfortunately, there isn’t much the regular folk can do except try their best to avoid this kind of content.

8. False Copyright Flagging / DMCA Abuse

This problem has been present on YouTube forever, but it is only recently that people massively began abusing it. You see, YouTube allows anyone to report a video for copyright infringement by issuing a DMCA takedown. And we mean it — anyone! Even if you’re a first-time user, you can copyright flag a video and claim it as your own. 

You can see a problem with that, can’t you? Creators can appeal the DMCA claim, though, but that is a long and arduous process to resolve. Also, whenever a creator gets a copyright strike (legitimate or not), they temporarily lose some privileges. To make things worse, if a creator ever gets three strikes, they lose their channel permanently.

When you take into account the number of cases of false flagging (way too many too count) and the fact that such actions can permanently ruin a creator’s future on the platform, you realize just how uncertain YouTube is as a platform. There are even cases of people’s original songs being claimed by random users, which is absurd.

All of that makes it evident that YouTube has a seriously flawed system on their end but is still doing nothing to address the issue. So if you are an aspiring YouTube content creator, be wary of this ill YouTube trend as it can target anyone, regardless of their channel size.

9. Dangerous Stunts

The adrenaline rush of dangerous stunts has been feeding the world’s daredevils for as long as we can remember. Many of these acts have been televised and broadcasted for the world to see time and time again. But what happens when you give an average Joe a platform where they can perpetuate their attempts at replicating these experienced daredevils? You get plenty of accidents and wasted lives, that’s what!

Since YouTube’s infancy, people have been doing outright stupid stuff and posting the acts on the platform. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of these stunts went awry. Whether it’s people trying to skateboard over moving cars or attempting to breathe fire without training, the outcomes are often tragic.

The peak of this craze came with the “Bird Box challenge” that went viral a year ago. People went about their day wearing a blindfold for the duration of the challenge, where only their friends could guide them verbally. To make things worse, people even drove cars blindfolded (mind-boggling, we know), which resulted in many tragic accidents and casualties. After that event, YouTube began taking action to eliminate such extreme stunts and challenges by updating its Terms of Agreement.

This trend was undoubtedly one of YouTube’s worst because it cost many people their lives, so we’re glad it’s now been eliminated from the platform for the most part.

10. YouTube Censorship

Many people see YouTube as a platform where they can engage in free speech and in dialogue with like-minded peers through their content. Unfortunately, the reality is not so bright as YouTube has reportedly been engaging in active censorship lately due to political pressure. An excellent example of this horrible YouTube trend is that the platform is not available everywhere in the world due to political censorship. Also, YouTube has been accused of actively censoring negative user comments about the Chinese Communist Party.

The alleged censorship doesn’t only extend to the Eastern market. Some have even accused the company of illegally censoring content with conservative political views. Many creators have supported these claims claiming that their content was not appearing on recommended lists and was entirely getting ignored by the YouTube algorithm. 

Despite the lack of tangible proof YouTube is censoring its creators, the issue is being actively debated throughout the platform’s community, so it’s worth noting. If YouTube is indeed censoring content, this might be one of the worst YouTube trends so far. So proceed with caution!

YouTube and Us — A Platform We Love… or Love to Hate?

YouTube might be flawed, but it has a special place in all of our hearts. But whether that place is of love or hate… we’ll leave up to you. The platform can indeed be genuinely toxic at times, and there’s little we can do about it. But it’s also a place anyone can use to get into video content creation, so we have to give it some credit! Even brands can use it as a part of their video marketing strategy or just to raise their brand visibility and awareness. So unless you want to move to another video platform, there isn’t much you can do. 

Luckily, now that you are more aware of some of the worst YouTube trends that plague the platform’s community, you are better equipped to avoid falling prey to them. Or if you don’t care about any of this or are unaffected by it, we hope you had some fun reading!

Until next time!

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