The Curious Case of Sony and Universal's Missing YouTube Views

Pulkit Chandna

Were Sony and Universal really caught with nearly 2 billion fake YouTube video views?

A few days back, data company SocialBlade, which has been religiously tracking YouTube channel stats since 2010, updated its list of the most viewed YouTube channels , revealing that the Google-owned online video behemoth had wiped off over 2 billion views from channels belonging to Universal Music Group , Sony/BMG , and RCA Records . This was enough to convince some conspiracy theorists that this was on account of the said music companies adopting unethical practices to artificially inflate video views.

However, the reality, as soon discovered after interviewing executives from YouTube and the labels themselves, was a little different. Billboard learned that although some of the views had indeed been canceled for having been generated using practices deemed to be in violation of YouTube’s terms, their percentage was far too small to sustain the artificial inflation theory.

In truth, the vast majority of views (read: 1.9985 billion) had been subtracted due to the fact that the concerned studios had transferred a large number of their videos to the VEVO channel . Now, this quick rebuttal should have been enough to nip the original story in the bud, but it wasn't and the story returned like a recrudescent cancer as soon as the world was done with Christmas. Why? Well, probably because some people were too busy with their celebrations to notice the rebuttal.

True, news regurgitation is no art, but even good regurgitation requires the observance of some rudimentary journalistic standards and practices. These days, however, this is often not the case, as every now and then bloggers and even “real journalists”, in their desperation to get there before everyone else and grab maximum page views, chuck the rule book out the window and blindly reproduce glaring factual errors and misinterpretations, forcing one to wonder if regurgitation might, after all, be an art. This is the latest example of that desperation taking precedence over basic fact checking.

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