UPDATE: December 6, 2019 – I have officially regained control of my channel and most of my content. There’s still a lot to sort out and fix, but I wanted to update everyone here until I can put out my video and post explaining everything: https://www.youtube.com/c/misterdomestic
When I first started Mister Domestic four years ago, I had no idea how to predict what it would become. I began sewing five years ago shortly after my daughter was born as a way to connect with her. After my personal Facebook became flooded with sewing stuff, I was merely looking for a place to share my creative journey of sewing and crafting. The combination of my zest for creative energy, me genuinely being an authentically positive dad, and my fearless exploration of new techniques fueled by gratitude became the perfect storm for a growth I never could have anticipated and created an escape for so many from the darkness that the world seems to become more and more each and every day. Mister Domestic is bigger than sewing and crafting. It took a while to fully grasp this because I was just being myself and imposter syndrome is real. It honestly wasn’t until I created the Mister Domestic YouTube Channel when the messages started to pour in about the therapeutic value of my message and spirit in my videos as many of you would listen to me in the background while you created, or watched me when having a down day. Heck, I’ve even received dozens of messages that my channel helped some of you get out of bed and move on from things you never thought you could overcome. Mister Domestic is not me, it’s the community that all of you created with me as the moderator that flourished into something pretty special on the internet. So to think that this has been taken away in the blink of an eye without YouTube actually expending energy into bringing it back breaks my heart.
Despite YouTube showing no signs of actually trying to get my channel back to me, I’m still hoping for a resurrection of my channel. However, my generally positive and optimistic nature is being chiseled away by the lack of actual human contact with YouTube/Google and the seemingly lack of concern from this platform at my loss of content and revenue. Before too much time passes, I felt it prudent to document everything in writing and, as we do in this era, put it into the inter web to share my story and hopefully reach someone that can help me find the happily ever after that we all are hoping for.
As I was at the airport waiting to board an airplane on November 5, 2019, I received the following email.
Retrospectively, there were things that were suspicious about the email and I know better than to log into something through the link in an email. But I had just posted a video the day before about a new class that I had on another platform, so my initial reaction was that I had violated some nebulous rule on YouTube by posting a video promoting a subscription service and I didn’t want to get in trouble. I clicked the link, entered my username and password and waited approximately 20 seconds as the page toggled before I recognized it as a phishing expedition. I immediately logged into my account on a different device and changed my password. During the 2 minute span of time between getting phished and me changing my password, my account had been logged into from Finland, which I notified as not being me. I had two-factor verification enabled, so I didn’t understand how they got in, but I really didn’t think anything about it since no changes had occurred to my YouTube Channel. I naively thought a crisis was averted and went forward with my day, changing my password on all of my social media accounts just in case. It’s the internet, this kinda stuff happens, thank goodness I caught it in time.
Removal of Ownership
Almost exactly 24 hours after this phishing incident, I received the above emails from YouTube indicating that the ownership of my channel had been removed. I didn’t really understand what this meant, especially since my 2-factor verification was on, so I followed the steps outlined in the following link: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/76187?hl=en
Once again, I thought this had solved it because my channel appeared unchanged. It wasn’t until a few hours later that I realized that I didn’t have access to my YouTube channel even though I could log into my Google Account and changes started to occur on my channel. I Googled this to find out what to do to get access to my channel back and found multiple articles documenting that maybe millions of YouTubers had been the target of this phishing threat. Here’s a link to one of the articles: https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252471181/Google-pushes-back-on-scale-of-YouTube-phishing-threat
Dismantling of Mister Domestic YouTube
It wasn’t until this moment that I realized how difficult it is to reach YouTube in a crisis. After a couple hours of trying to figure out what to do and who to contact, I accidentally discovered a way to chat with someone in YouTube Creator Support that seemed empathetic to what was going on and in the end said he would send me an e-mail to help resolve the issue. [side note I just tried to find it again and after 30 minutes I couldn’t locate it, so clearly it’s not intended to be used by creators]
I received the above email and sent the information as requested, once again thinking that YouTube was actually going to help me. As time progressed, the videos on my YouTube channel began to disappear with some remaining ones being shortened to a few seconds.
Eventually the channel was changed to “Christina Jones” and political misinformation began being sent to my subscribers who were set to notifications by using thumbnails that had fake information about political candidates and by using the live stream capability to stream Sean Hannity, where at one time thousands of people were watching. Luckily a friend sent me the emails she was receiving. Unfortunately, the thumbnails went away once my channel was terminated, so I only have the topics in the subject matter documented. I pride myself on creating a politics-free environment, so the fact my subscribers who I shield from this were forced to experience this absolutely broke my heart.
Customer Service Experience
The emails with customer service went back and forth over the course of a couple weeks where I documented the dismantling and misuse of my YouTube Channel in real time before it was eventually terminated. The best way to experience this is to read these screenshots of my emails in order.
At this point, I was able to keep positive, remain hopeful and continued to research what actually happened. That is until I received the following resolution email.
Say what?!? Like how is this where they landed on the investigation? What did they in fact investigate, if they did at all? I provided in real-time documentation as my channel was hijacked, dismantled and terminated and they’re saying that nothing happened and I need to do better with my password security? Needless to say I responded.
Luckily, I had my original channel bookmarked so that I could follow it as it evolved. My question is how did a company that actually knows how to navigate this stuff not connect the dots? At this point, after going back and reading all of the responses from YouTube Creator Support, I’m convinced that this is artificial intelligence instead of actual humans by the canned reuse of responses from multiple “people”. If they were actually humans, the insensitivity of their canned responses are even more disappointing since their platform exists because real folks like me decided to use to provide content. While my channel of 51,000+ subscribers and 150+ videos wasn’t enormous, it was a safe space where folks could come laugh with me to feel better or to learn how to sew/crochet/weave in a positive manner or both. This was stolen from us and, at this point, it doesn’t seem that YouTube actually wants to help fix this, even though I’m aware of other channels that have been reinstated with a higher subscriber count.
I have a few more things to try to get their attention.
- I was informed by someone who is tech-savvy to tweet @TeamYouTube to let them know what happened and that we need their help. I’m not super active on Twitter and will continue to tweet, regardless. If any of you have a Twitter account, I’m asking you to please tweet about this using @TeamYouTube, @YouTube, and @Mister_Domestic to get their attention. Enough of a groundswell might be enough for them to see us.
- I also plan to send press releases to various media outlets and sites, particularly in the tech world, to see if any of them will write about it. If you know of any or have any connections to any, please forward this to them asking for help.
- And finally, I need this blog post to go viral. If you have reached this point in the blog, I implore you to please share this blog on Facebook, in newsletters, anywhere that someone might be able to read it. And then ask them to forward it too.
Beyond sharing this post of various social media platforms, I can’t think of anything else to do. I’m not throwing in the towel yet, but this whole experience has been pretty violating and every time I reengage in the fight, it’s pretty triggering so I can’t continue the fight too much longer.
The worst part of this whole thing was the moment that my six-year-old daughter realized what had happened to the Mister Domestic Channel. She never appeared on my channel, but she was there with me as my “director” during most of my shoots, giving me feedback and being involved. Heck she even has been dubbed Little Miss Domestic. And the uncontrollable wailing cry as I held her and she repeated over and over that all of our hard work was stolen is something I hope I never have to hear again. If you follow me, you know she is my heart and right now my heart hurts.
I am so insanely sorry that 30 seconds of me not protecting my information resulted in the destruction of three years of hard work and the community of positivity and learning that we all created together. And no, I didn’t backup my videos, so the content is gone. Huge lesson learned here.
This is not the end of my video journey and I still have a modicum of hope that I will get my channel back, but with every communication from YouTube and day that passes, the hope has begun evolving into grief.
I love each and every one of you and am so grateful that you have chosen to be a part of my journey to spread joy and positivity through sewing and crafting. Keep it positive, y’all.
Mister Domestic out….