YouTube is changing how subscriber numbers are displayed, shifting the culture

YouTube is introducing a major change in the way real-time subscriber counts are displayed, so that analysis sites such as Social Blade cannot actively display whether creators get subscribers or, more importantly, lose.

Instead of seeing the exact number of subscribers to YouTuber (for example 10,500,000), people see a flat 10 million. This may not seem like a major change for people who have not invested in the messy lives of YouTube video makers, but for a culture that relies on active subscribers counts as a way to prove who wins or loses when drama occurs, real time subscriber counters are crucial.

A blog post from the YouTube product team Recognizes that & # 39; subscribers are of great importance for video makers & # 39 ;, adding that the change is being made to create & # 39; more consistency everywhere & # 39 ;. Some channels already have this display function, but the YouTube product team wants to make it more uniform.

A YouTube spokesperson confirmed The edge those sites that rely on the YouTube API Services "will be updated to the same extent as the other surfaces." That includes sites such as Social Blade, which announced on Twitter that YouTube's changes could "affect our data display," said Jason Urgo, CEO of Social Blade The edge via email, the company has "reached YouTube and is awaiting a response", adding that "it seems like it is affecting a third party that would include us."


Live counting channels on YouTube.
Image: YouTube

The announcement comes at a time when Social Blade screenshots are spread from real-time followers and profits are scattered to mock some of YouTube's most productive video makers, including Felix & # 39; PewDiePie & # 39; Kjellberg, James Charles, Tati Westbrook, Jeffree Star and most recently, Fortnite gamer Turner "Tfue" Tenney. Entire channels are dedicated to live streaming real-time statistics from Social Blade, often using gaps between makers and trending drama as a way to attract viewers. Soon those channels will effectively stop working as intended.

The decision to hide the number of subscribers comes at a time when the whole world is paying attention to the number of followers of the maker. James Charles and Tati Westbrook's feud, which led to worldwide reporting, focused primarily on the number of subscribers who lost the former and the latter. Charles and Westbrook even sat down on Google & # 39; s Spaces, according to a video from Westbrook, to talk about the situation. An intense focus on real-time subscriber numbers of other video makers in the community has led to forms of bullying online, including use to mock those who lose subscribers.

It is unclear to what extent the cultural use of subscribers by the creator community has played a role in YouTube's decision to hide exact numbers and effectively deactivate third-party websites to use the platform's API to perform real-time counters. A YouTube spokesperson refused to comment.

Other platforms are considering testing similar product changes. Instagram is allegedly considering a feature that displays the number of likes that a photo has received in an attempt to reduce the pressure on Instagram & # 39; turns off. On Reddit, moderators have the option to hide commentary scores and vote numbers in an attempt to "reduce the first bandwagon / snowball mood, where if a comment gets a few first downvotes it often remains negative, or vice versa." Even Twitter is experimenting with weakening engagement functions such as retweets.

The new YouTube subscriber counter display will take effect in August.

Update (May 21, 5:20 PM ET): The story has been updated with comments from Social Blade.