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Sep 28th, 2019
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  1. Host: How many subscribers do you personally have?
  2.  
  3. TimC: Me? About fifteen, maybe. I don't know.
  4.  
  5. Host: So, what makes you a great YouTube influencer?
  6.  
  7. TimC: I have three and a half million accounts.
  8.  
  9. Host: That's what we're here to talk about. Now, you've agreed to this interview so long as everything remains confidential, so we aren't going to be uploading this in our usual format. Instead, we'll be posting a--a transcript of the conversation, with the names changed. Does that sound good?
  10.  
  11. TimC: That's what I agreed to.
  12.  
  13. Host: Is it okay if we use your first name, at least?
  14.  
  15. TimC: No, please change it.
  16.  
  17. Host: Should we just refer to you as "Anonymous", then?
  18.  
  19. TimC: No, I don't like that association. Just make up a name.
  20.  
  21. Host: Pseudonym it is. Okay, so, you say you have 3.5 million YouTube accounts, yet you yourself only have fifteen subscribers. Why that--why the discrepancy?
  22.  
  23. TimC: Why not? I don't subscribe to my own channel with my accounts. Honestly, I don't even know where the fifteen came from.
  24.  
  25. Host: Why? I mean, why not subscribe to your own channel?
  26.  
  27. TimC: Why should I? I don't make videos, I have nothing to post. But it could also be a flag that would lead the execs back to me, if they ever put two and two together. I don't want any breadcrumbs if my accounts start getting taken down. Which has happened before, but not on a large scale.
  28.  
  29. Host: Okay, let's talk about that. You say you have about three and a half million accounts.
  30.  
  31. TimC: Right.
  32.  
  33. Host: How did that come about?
  34.  
  35. TimC: It was around...I guess it was around 2009, somewhere in there, when I saw YouTube starting to blow up. I saw the potential there, and Google's online security detail was...well, it was lax, to say the least. That was back when you could create an account with any email address. I already had dozens of fake ones sitting around just so I could use them for various other online services without compromising my identity, but I thought, "why not go big?" So I wrote out a quick script -- I guess it took me a day or two -- that would create artificial accounts on things like Yahoo! Mail, Hotmail, et cetera, and store the randomly generated login credentials in a machine-readable format on my computer.
  36.  
  37. Host: Were you ever worried that someone might hack your computer, or a virus might corrupt the file, or something?
  38.  
  39. TimC: I've had a Unix system since the late '80s, so good luck.
  40.  
  41. Host: We won't get into that. So, you cre--you wrote a script? Can you talk about that?
  42.  
  43. TimC: It was just a few hundred lines of Perl. If I had to go back and redo it, I would probably use something like Java, but I was a Unix man, and I was familiar with Perl.
  44.  
  45. Host: Honestly, I don't really--I don't know what that means. But you wrote a script to create fake email addresses?
  46.  
  47. TimC: No. I mean, they were real email addresses. It wasn't spoofing them, or -- but -- yeah, I didn't use them for anything, really -- I see what you mean. Yeah, it created "fake" email addresses. I guess I would call them "extraneous".
  48.  
  49. Host: How many?
  50.  
  51. TimC: I didn't actually keep track, but based on the file size, I'd estimate about five or six million. Like I said, a chunk of them have been deleted.
  52.  
  53. Host: And you used those to create YouTube accounts?
  54.  
  55. TimC: Among other things, yeah. That was the more involved part of the script. Honestly, creating email accounts back then was just a few lines of code. Google made things complicated, even with how straightforward their account creation used to be.
  56.  
  57. Host: You mean you couldn't do this now?
  58.  
  59. TimC: If I really wanted to? I probably could. But the invention of Captcha severely complicates things. I feel partially responsible for that, actually.
  60.  
  61. Host: [laughing] So now we know who to blame.
  62.  
  63. TimC: My bad.
  64.  
  65. Host: Getting back on topic, though, you created all these fake -- sorry, uh, "extraneous" YouTube accounts for what reason?
  66.  
  67. TimC: Just a hunch.
  68.  
  69. Host: A "hunch"? Of what?
  70.  
  71. TimC: Well, I didn't really know where YouTube would be going at the time, but I thought that having a lot of accounts might be beneficial. I mean, honestly, I've done the same thing on lots of other platforms. They just haven't really mattered as much.
  72.  
  73. Host: So, what have you done with those fake accounts?
  74.  
  75. TimC: Whatever I wanted. I mean, once I learned how YouTube's algorithm worked, I started using them to prop up channels that I liked. It's amazing how much a million subscribers meant ten years ago.
  76.  
  77. Host: So, that's why you bill yourself as an "influencer"?
  78.  
  79. TimC: No. A million subscribers -- or three million -- doesn't mean nearly as much now as it did back then. There are complete fucking retards with subscribers in the tens of millions.
  80.  
  81. Host: So--*laughs* sorry, that caught me off-guard. So, what makes you such an important influencer, if you can't help channels like you used to?
  82.  
  83. TimC: Oh, I still help them. A channel with a few hundred or even a few thousand subscribers suddenly gaining two or three million will push them up in the rankings. YouTube's algorithm prioritizes relevant content: if a channel suddenly starts receiving lots of subscribers, it sees that as being indicative of general sensibility, so it starts promoting their videos to new viewers, in the "Recommended" section of viewers who have watched similar content, et cetera.
  84.  
  85. Host: Then why did you say that you don't see that as what makes you an influencer?
  86.  
  87. TimC: Because I mostly don't use my accounts to help people.
  88.  
  89. Host: What do you use them for?
  90.  
  91. TimC: To hurt them.
  92.  
  93. Host: Interesting. Do you use them to flag videos or something?
  94.  
  95. TimC: No. If I just false-flagged a bunch of videos with my accounts, they'd all get deleted eventually.
  96.  
  97. Host: Then what do you do?
  98.  
  99. TimC: I subscribe.
  100.  
  101. Host: How--what? How does that hurt channels?
  102.  
  103. TimC: I'm not trying to hurt channels. I'm trying to hurt people.
  104.  
  105. Host: How does that--what's the difference?
  106.  
  107. TimC: Think about it from a creator's perspective: if you suddenly gained three million subscribers, you'd think you were finally "making it", right?
  108.  
  109. Host: Sure.
  110.  
  111. TimC: And that massive boost would help your channel do well in the rankings, as I said previously, so the viewership and subscriber count would only go up from there.
  112.  
  113. Host: Right.
  114.  
  115. TimC: So, then, how do you think it would feel if those three million subscribers suddenly unsubscribed?
  116.  
  117. Host: Wait, you--what? Holy shit.
  118.  
  119. TimC: But that's too easy. I could pick any channel to suddenly give three million subscribers and then take them away. That's boring. So, I look for channels that I truly hate. Channels that produce content that I think is absolute garbage. Those are the channels I give subscribers to.
  120.  
  121. Host: Why?
  122.  
  123. TimC: I already explained why: so I can take them away. But that's only part of it. Timing is critical. When I find a channel I hate, I follow the creator on every social media outlet they have: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, whatever. I wait until they do something, say something, create a video that means a lot to them -- something that I think they really believe in -- and then I take the subs away. You can't imagine how devastating that is.
  124.  
  125. Host: No, I really can't.
  126.  
  127. TimC: Most of them do the same song and dance afterwards. Usually, they make a post -- or, for the smarter ones, they make a video, and they monetize it -- apologizing for whatever perceived offense they may have caused. They delete the tweet, the offending video, whatever, and they beg their subscribers to give them a second chance. Of course, they don't realize that they're just talking to me.
  128.  
  129. Host: Fucking hell.
  130.  
  131. TimC: It's a truly remarkable thing to see. You'd be amazed at how easily shaken most people's convictions are.
  132.  
  133. Host: You said "most". Are there people who don't do that?
  134.  
  135. TimC: To my recollection, there was one person who didn't follow the usual formula. He didn't delete his video, he didn't apologize -- he actually doubled down, and made a second video with more emphasis than the first. Honestly, I was shocked. I kind of admire that sort of conviction. So, you know what I did?
  136.  
  137. Host: Did you give the subscribers back?
  138.  
  139. TimC: Fuck no, I got bored and moved on to the next target.
  140.  
  141. Host: You're sick.
  142.  
  143. TimC: I guess. I don't really care.
  144.  
  145. Host: Great. That seems like a good place to end this bullsh--[voice fades]
  146.  
  147. TimC: Don't forget, you're under NDA.
  148.  
  149. Host: [background audio]Fuck off.
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