YouTube's Inane Response To Handing Popular YouTuber's Channel To Cosmetics Company: Blame The Algorithms

from the the-algorithms-did-it dept

Another day, another big tech company doing things wrong. Matthew Lush is apparently a super popular YouTuber, who has been on the platform since 2005 (yes, a decade ago). His YouTube name was "Lush" which makes sense, given that's his name. But along comes Lush Cosmetics, and YouTube apparently just hands his channel over to the company. That's ridiculous enough, but it gets even more bizarre, when reporters asked Google to explain:
Google said it was "sympathetic" to Mr Lush's situation and that the decision was made by an algorithm.
Oh, come on. Yes, Google pointing to its algorithm making decisions makes sense when it comes to issues at scale around things like search results. But blaming taking away someone's username on an algorithm just seems ridiculous.

And then there's this:
[Lush Cometics] told the BBC it had not requested the change but would not say if it would give the address back.
Okay. So let's just work through this:
  1. Matthew Lush registers his YouTube name "Lush" in 2005.
  2. He spends years building up a massive following.
  3. A decade later, a cosmetic company that did not ask for it is simply given Matthew Lush's popular YouTube username, based on "an algorithm" deciding this.
  4. And Google insists there's no way to fix this.
Really? Yes, I know some people fear that science-fiction future in which the giant AI in the sky makes algorithmic decisions about what's best for us ("I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that"), but I hadn't thought we were quite there yet. Because we're not.

It seems likely that what's missing from the BBC story is that there was some sort of naming conflict brought on by the various attemps to shift around YouTube naming conventions, integrate it with Google+ and all of that. In the end, there was probably some sort of conflict with two "Lush" usernames, and Google's "algorithms" gave the account to the cosmetics company instead. At least that's my interpretation of this statement:
Google said its algorithm decided which address Lush Cosmetics was given, based on data from YouTube, Google+, its search engine and other sources.
But if that's the case, at the very last, Google could be a lot clearer and upfront about it. And it seems to be a mess brought on by the company's own decisions about its username conventions. To play it off as just "well, those nutty algorithms again, nothing can be done" seems pretty ridiculous.

Filed Under: algorithms, customer service, matthew lush, names, user names, youtube
Companies: google, lush cosmetics, youtube

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    did no one at LUSH take Marketing 101, 24 Jun 2015 @ 12:36pm

    Re: Re:

    I totally agree re: the PR opportunity. In fact Lush cosmetics almost seems intent on creating a PR faux pas. According to Mathew Lush's video that he posted to his twitter profile Lush cosmetics said to him on the conference call with Google "we're a 1 billion dollar company, it doesn't matter how many followers you have." Matthew's subscribers: almost 1 million, Lush Cosmetics: 90k.

    Lush cosmetics was given 2 vanity urls not one, so that also smacks of a paid human not a rogue algorithm
    They were given the vanity url
    AND the vanity url both point to their original user name

    some would think that Lush was hoping to capitalize on his followers since the vanity url now points to their channel.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.