Markiplier and Moist Critical blast YouTube for taking down staged road rage videos

YouTube has been criticized by some of its top creators after popular videos were controversially taken down for allegedly breaking the site’s Terms of Service. This has led to the creation of the #AnswerUsYouTube hashtag, with creators such as Moist Critical and Markiplier requesting that YouTube opens up about its manual video review process.

On August 28, YouTuber and Twitch streamer Charles “Moist Critical” White received a content strike for a video titled ‘Road Rager Learns a Hard Lesson.’ According to him, this video was clearly a staged incident where no one was seriously hurt, but YouTube took down the video for violating the channel’s policy on “violent or graphic content.” Critical says that he privately reached out to YouTube to no avail, so he began to talk about the incident publicly on Twitter.

The Russian-language video in question purports to show a road-rager getting his comeuppance after pulling in front of a fan and yelling at the driver. After a few moments, four costumed characters — including SpongeBob SquarePants and Mickey Mouse — jump out of the van and appear to assault the road rager.

As Moist Critical notes in the video above, it’s unlikely that this is a real incident. The costumed characters are pulling their punches and there doesn’t appear to be any real harm, nor is there any fake blood or real blood seen in the video.

It then came to Moist Critical’s attention that Markiplier also watched this same fake road rage video during a Try Not to Laugh compilation, something that both Moist Critical and Markiplier pointed out to YouTube:

As noted above, the Markiplier video featuring the staged SpongeBob road rage video was taken down within 12 hours after these tweets. What makes this incident particularly upsetting is that larger YouTubers appear to be targeted for content that doesn’t break the site’s Community Guidelines — content that also happens to be robustly mirrored elsewhere.

Searching for ‘Spongebob Road Rage’ on YouTube shows that three of the top four results contain the exact same video and are still live on the site at the time of writing, although these entries only have a few thousand views.

“Obviously no one should be in trouble for joking about what is clearly a staged video; I’d just like to know why only mine was deemed ‘disturbing and shocking’,” Moist Critical stated in a tweet.

The seemingly uneven enforcement of YouTube’s content guidelines were further highlighted in a conversation on Twitter between Moist Critical and YouTube.

The problem with Moist Critical and Markiplier’s videos being taken down isn’t the removal of the content itself; rather, it’s an issue of unclear guidelines on the site, uneven enforcement of these guidelines, and difficulty in communicating with the people who make these decisions. Videos being taken down can lead to strikes being placed on a YouTube channel, with enough of these strikes eventually leading to an outright ban. Given that creators like Markiplier and Moist Critical make a living from YouTube, this presents many problems.

“When everyone’s not on the same page or the same team with the same understanding of what is and isn’t allowed, that’s already a problem,” Moist Critical said in a YouTube video regarding this incident. “If they’re easily accessible and you can only talk to them through e-mail, that’s not good. Everyone I’ve talked didn’t agree with this decision that they’ve made here. And I’m not even convinced that this manual review team has actual human beings on it.”