Read: Why James Charles losing a million subscribers matters

Words by: Zoya Raza-sheikh

Between the likes of PewDiePie and Logan Paul we’ve got a few reasons why YouTubers and media influencers need to be held to higher accountability. Alongside these names run deep allegations of questionable behaviour, yet once all the noise is all over it seems like it never mattered. So, when James Charles lost a million subscribers, it really mattered. 

It’s no surprise the internet is a messy place. Amongst the memes and the conspiracy theories lies the greater issue of inexcusable influencer attitudes. This time around, the drama involved James Charles and Tati Westbrook. Although the scandals blew over quicker than a Kardashian fallout, it did get us thinking. This recipe of attention is nothing new. Time and time again we have seen influencers dispute allegations pinned to their name and then run into hiding. However, this time around we saw something a little different – Charles started to lose subscribers, fast. Usually, following a controversy, a YouTuber or influencer will avoid the spotlight, publish an apology statement and wait for the commotion to die down. Yet following the backlash of his “Sisters”, Charles became an example of how chaotically consequences can be assigned to creators. Responses to his allegations spanned from cancel culture to de-platforming, but this fan-based attempt to enforce a punishment was equally worrying. The entire Charles / Westbrook feud highlighted the rise of cancel culture. 

With online scandals only growing, it looks like the media industry and advertisers have something new to consider. Regulating the internet is never going to be an easy task, but James Charles’ falling subscriber count is a timely reminder that, yes, influencers need to be kept in line, but there’s a worrying lack of understanding in how that’s to be achieved.