YouTube’s Trending page is typically full of easy-going content like music videos, comedy sketches, and game trailers, along with popular creators like Mr. Beast and SSSniperWolf. However, on August 24, the number-one trending video was a callout against the platform itself, with accusations of racism or favoritism levied at Google’s video-sharing service. The commotion was all over the platform’s treatment of a gameplay video. The explosive claims have led other top creators, from moistcr1tikal to Philip DeFranco, to debate just how unevenly YouTube’s content moderation team enforces its policies.
Cory “CoryxKenshin” Williams is a Black YouTuber and internet personality with over 14 million subscribers, best known for his humorous content. He got his start in 2009 uploading comedy skits before transitioning into making videos on horror games, playing celebrated titles such as Bloodborne and Five Nights at Freddy’s. While he takes regular hiatuses from the platform, almost every time he returns to posting content on YouTube, he trends for multiple days in a row because of his infectious personality. I mean, just within the last 30 days, he’s accrued some 100 million views. That’s pretty dang impressive.
So, if CoryxKenshin’s seeing that kinda success on YouTube, why’s he pinning such heavy accusations onto the platform? Well, it oscillates around The Mortuary Assistant, a new horror game from developer Darkstone Digital that’s all over YouTube of late. In the game, you play as an assistant mortician, embalming cadavers and performing rituals all in the hopes of keeping demonic forces at bay. The mature-rated content includes instances of “disturbing imagery” and “strong language,” according to the game’s Steam page.
CoryxKenshin uploaded an hour-long playthrough of The Mortuary Assistant’s demo on August 18. That same day—apparently within a few hours, even—the video was age-restricted, meaning you have to log in to verify you’re over the age of 18 to watch. CoryxKenshin said that YouTube gave no explanation as to why. He appealed the moderation, only for YouTube to reject that appeal, confirming in an email that the video “violates our Community Guidelines” but wouldn’t contextualize what that meant or which part of the video broke YouTube’s rules. CoryxKenshin then had a conversation with his partner manager while searching around the platform to see if anyone else’s videos on The Mortuary Assistant had been age-restricted. None were, at least at first.
His representative suggested that perhaps the end of his video, where a character battles depression and self-harm, could be the reason for the content moderation. Despite not knowing what exactly triggered the restriction, CoryxKenshin started comparing his content to that of other creators who featured the same scenes. That’s when he found that Markiplier’s video on The Mortuary Assistant, which featured the same gameplay, wasn’t age-restricted, leading him to assume favoritism, racism, or both is at play within the platform.
Instead of having a dialogue with CoryxKenshin about his video and why it was age-restricted while Markiplier’s wasn’t, YouTube apparently removed the age restriction from CoryxKenshin’s video before reinstating it and then age-restricting Markiplier’s video a few days later. This evidently pissed CoryxKenshin off, not because it wasn’t a good development. It kinda was, but this seems to only further illustrate the unequal weight YouTube applies when enforcing its policies. CoryxKenshin even mentioned he “bleeps out cuss words in video games” and doesn’t use strong language in his content, so he’s totally baffled at how it seems like YouTube treats him so differently.
“Why is my channel so much more heavily scrutinized than my peers?” CoryxKenshin asked, the frustration clearly swelling in his throat. “When I say peers, I mean people around my level, around my view count. Just to keep it simple: Why is my channel so much more thoroughly scrutinized, especially so when I’ve been number 1 trending multiple days in a row which I’ve done multiple times?”
CoryxKenshin said this wasn’t the first time YouTube has unfairly moderated his channel, either. He recounted another instance in 2021 when YouTube gave him a community guideline strike, without communication or an explanation, for a video of his from 2019. It felt like it came out of nowhere, given that it had been so long after making the video.
“Every single time I start to get an uptick in traction, an uptick in activity, here comes YouTube coming through,’Hey, let’s get him for this video from 2019. You see this Cory? No, this is bad,’” CoryxKenshin said. “It wasn’t bad the nine months I was off the platform. It was only bad when I got back and I was number 1 trending. This situation was only bad because I’ve been number 1 trending since I got back. Every other YouTuber has uploaded The Mortuary Assistant, and now YouTube’s about to start putting in some age restrictions because I called them out on some unfair behavior.”
Kotaku reached out to CoryxKenshin, Darkstone Digital, Markiplier, and YouTube for comment.
Plenty of folks online have shown their support for CoryxKenshin’s candidness. YouTubers like Jidion suggested company CEO Susan Wojcicki should “sit down and talk these issues through” with CoryxKenshin. News commentator Omni said no one “is surprised at this point” by any of these allegations, while Twitch streamer CashNasty gave “respect to CoryxKenshin” for speaking his truth. Even big names on the platform have made videos covering the topic, including Ludwig, Philip DeFranco, and moistcr1tikal, most of which are in agreement that YouTube’s content moderation policies are vague at best and trash at worst, and that something sussy is going on behind the scenes in CoryxKenshin’s case. Though YouTube hasn’t said anything publicly yet, the situation seems to have ballooned far too big for the platform to ignore now.