If you follow any major YouTubers, you may have recently heard mass reports of users being unsubscribed from their favourite channels. Though this is only one aspect of the latest kerfuffle to come from YouTube’s constant tinkering, it’s the one they chose to address in a video response. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to have satisfied the community.
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In the video, YouTube user experience researcher Renato Verdugo asks subscriptions product manager Zindzi McCormick about the complaints.
“We’ve been hearing reports from viewers that they’ve been unsubscribed from channels that they’ve previously been subscribed to,” says Verdugo. “What’s up with that?”
McCormick assures us that her team takes the feedback “so seriously”, before going on to state that “YouTube doesn’t unsubscribe people from channels.” She claims her team has examined "over a hundred" cases, and has found no evidence of an underlying glitch that might explain random unsubscriptions.
Interestingly, McCormick insists this remains the case even if an account is flagged as a spam bot. When this happens, the suspected bot account is struck from the subscriber numbers of the channels it is following, but in terms of the account itself, nothing changes: it's still subscribed, it still gets videos from subbed channels in its subs feed, it still gets notifications, the whole shebang.
“When we flag an account as spam, that account doesn’t count toward your subscriber number anymore, but actually nothing changes for the user,” says McCormick. “We never unsubscribe them from your channel.”
Verdugo then mentions user reports that, despite still being subbed to a channel, videos from that channel aren't showing up in their feed. McCormick's reply: "every video that a creator uploads will show up in the subs feed for all their subscribers by default." She then mentions that the subs feed is now more prominent on mobile.
And that's... basically it. YouTube's position in the face of thousands of complaints is: there's no problem. At time of writing, the video has almost 900 likes to just under 24,000 dislikes, which should tell you everything you need to know about the reactions in the comments.
As a postscript, it's worth mentioning that phantom unsubscriptions are only one of a few sudden problems that users of YouTube have spotted. Content creators also think that YouTube’s algorithm has changed to push a different kind of content. For more on that and on this unsubscription business, recommended viewing includes H3H3 and The Game Theorists.