Dawson has been an active YouTuber since 2008 but has yet to get the platform's steady promotion. (Image via TwitCelebGossip)
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Dawson has been an active YouTuber since 2008 but has yet to get the platform's steady promotion. (Image via TwitCelebGossip)

Face it: Shane is one of the best things to ever happen to YouTube.

If you, like the vast majority of millennials, have spent nearly a quarter of your life on the internet, you’re probably well aware of Shane Dawson.

And if you’re still just as social media dependent as the pre-teen version of yourself, you would know that Dawson has managed to recently undergo an impressive transformation, resulting in a coveted YouTube reign. However, for reasons unbeknownst to online creators (including Dawson and his “squad”), YouTube refuses to support or foster his career.

Some background information on Dawson: The 30-year-old has been consistently creating content on YouTube’s platform since 2008. His channels have experienced ups and downs over the years as Dawson attempted to land himself in a creative niche. With nearly 16 million subscribers, the creator is now producing intensely fascinating docuseries on topics ranging from personal subject matters to the lives of online veterans, such as Trisha Paytas and Jeffree Star.

You would think the site would be happy with the number of views and subscribers Dawson has reeled in, yet it’s quite the opposite: YouTube is typically less likely to put Dawson’s videos on the trending page, let alone promote them.

It’s a confusing move on YouTube’s behalf, especially because Dawson’s last series on scandal-king-meets-makeup-guru Jeffree Star has averaged 11 million views per video.

It would seem that YouTube has some sort of vendetta against Dawson. On the surface, such prejudice seems completely irrational, considering that the site has been cultivating online creators since the early 2000s. If anything, I would expect YouTube and Dawson to have a mutual business relationship — á la, “I scratch your back, you scratch mine.”

It’s worth mentioning, though, Dawson’s tumultuous presence on the web. Unfortunately, he is no stranger to online scandals, an expected feat when a particular individual has chronicled their life on the internet for 10 years.

Generally speaking, Dawson’s videos have never really consisted of traditional internet humor. He is an advocate for pushing the envelope, and that includes his comedic style. The YouTuber has been criticized for his rather tasteless acts of borderline racism, in which he has dressed up as characters imitating black individuals in the past. He has since apologized for those crude actions.

He is also extremely open about his mental health struggles and frequently references his difficulties with body dysmorphia. In 2015, Dawson came out as bisexual and, as of 2016, has been in a relationship with Ryland Adams, a fellow YouTuber. More recently, Dawson was accused of being a pedophile due to outlandish comments made about a young girl, though those allegations were found to be fabricated.

Point being, Dawson, like many other YouTube creators, has experienced his fair share of controversy. Could that be the reason why YouTube refuses to promote his videos? Perhaps.

But if YouTube is making a conscious effort to protect its demographic from viewing content from a provocative creator, such actions are teetering on unnecessary censorship. Not only would that be simply unfair, but it’s also wrong. If YouTube wanted to suppress Dawson’s videos, then why not just suspend his account?

Simply put, Dawson is no longer creating offensive content, so YouTube no longer has an obvious reason to censor his material. Because of the size of Dawson’s fanbase, YouTube gets put in a tight spot. Its agency in this situation extends to what it chooses to promote on the website (because Dawson will receive views regardless), so that’s exactly what its controlling.

By blacklisting Dawson and refusing to promote his videos, YouTube reduces the amount of money he can make and, thus, his career opportunities. If the site says you’re no good, it’s rare for someone to question the opinion of the monster media platform. (In fact, Dawson regularly mentions the difficulty he experiences with getting brands to sponsor his videos.)

That being said, what YouTube is doing to Dawson is nowhere near fair. On a purely career-based level, Dawson puts out some of the most viewed and captivating content the site has ever seen. He’s filmed series helping struggling YouTubers, which revealed the lives of fascinatingly mysterious social media influencers, including Tana Mongeau and the infamous TanaCon.

So maybe YouTube is suppressing Dawson’s content because of his past controversies. Fine. Its actions are not exactly just, but the site technically upholds the right to do that. But then why did it take YouTube weeks to stop promoting Logan Paul’s videos after his disgusting venture into the Suicide Forest?

Point blank: If YouTube is going to take steps to censor its trending content, at least be fair about it. That means refusing to promote videos from every creator that has ever had a scandal, because that seems to be the route its taken with Dawson.

James Charles, Jeffree Star, Logan Paul, Jake Paul and the rest of that whole Team 10 debauchery and any other controversial creator would be included in such expurgation. But YouTube would never do that; it would most likely result in a complete downfall in profit.

Above anything (and extreme hypotheticals aside), it’s quite arbitrary for YouTube to essentially “cancel” Dawson because of a few past mistakes. Although Dawson has been known for his outrageous comedic style in the past, he doesn’t uphold that same reputation. He no longer perpetuates offensive behavior consisting of inappropriate jokes and oddball tendencies, and rumors spread about him are almost always false.

By creating genuinely captivating content — some of which teeters on well-produced docuseries too good for the YouTube platform — it’s clear that Dawson is making a conscious attempt to remold his brand. He’s done nothing but grow and better himself throughout the process and, if anything, extend YouTube’s audience beyond the demographic it initially upheld.

All in all, YouTube’s rash decision to ignore Dawson is ridiculous. The platform should be deliberately growing alongside his brand rather than trying to tear it down, especially if it’s going to promote someone like Jake Paul.

Writer Profile

Melissa Lee

SUNY Oswego

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