In the wake of Tuesday's shooting at YouTube's San Bruno, CA headquarters, the platform's creator community is banding together and struggling with how to move forward.
Several big-name YouTube creators spoke out on Twitter immediately following the events.
"I love all my friends at YouTube and am horrified and we know very little and please don’t guess or trust things that might be made up or clamor for information. Let time do the work," Hank Green tweeted directly following the crisis.
Jake Paul, who recently released a documentary-style video on the Parkland shooting, used his voice to call for gun control, tweeting, "Unbelievably upset & sick.. YouTube HQ.. my thoughts & prayers go out to the amazing team there.. I hope you all stay safe. No one should have to go through something so horrific. I have been inside that exact building & it’s scary to even say that... We need change…now!"
Keemstar also called for change in a special episode of Drama Alert where he explained that his political views on guns had shifted in recent months following the Las Vegas shooting. He said that he now supports gun control measures.
"For me it's just very, very sad, and the sadness doesn't just end with the people who were injured and directly affected and are going to have to confront the emotional aspects—beyond those people, it's sad for the community," YouTube star Casey Neistat told The Daily Beast when asked how this incident was affecting the creator community.
"The most beautiful about the YouTube community is the community isn't just about huge creators. The community has always been defined as everyone who interacts with videos, watches, subscribes to channels, comments. The YouTube community is this broad amazing cross-section of individuals that spans the whole globe. The fact that this homicidal monster considered herself part of that community is sad," he added.
Smaller YouTubers grappled with how to move forward and whether they should acknowledge what happened at YouTube headquarters on their own channels or in vlogs.
"I’m a bit nervous that it would be far too easy to cross the boundary into poor taste right now. I’m torn, part of me wants to continue as normal so that this kind of terror does not win by impacting our lives, but at the same time I want to be respectful of the victims and not ignore it or pretend it didn’t happen," said Ray, a Canadian-based YouTuber who runs the channel Vacation Impossible.
Other small YouTubers said that while shooter Nasim Aghdam was most certainly deranged and mentally ill, they had long worried the anger surrounding YouTube's demonetization of smaller channels would reach a breaking point.
In January, the company rolled out broad changes to how smaller YouTubers were (or weren't) able to monetize. Previously, in order to monetize their videos and join YouTube's Partner Program, creators had to have a total of 10,000 total views throughout the entire lifetime of their channel. But in January YouTube raised that threshold for monetization, taking away ad revenue from those who didn't meet the newer, higher guidelines, and leaving thousands of small creators feeling shunned.
"I haven't heard the news confirm it, but I have been saying something like this will eventually happen with YouTube messing with people's money," said Lee Stivers, a YouTuber based in Missouri who runs a channel called Urban Exploration.
"Though I do feel YouTube mistreats small creators, I feel like she took this a step too far and has probably made the situation worse," said Lyle Hendy, a young teenage YouTuber based in the UK. "I don't just don't see YouTube changing rules back to pander to someone who acted stupidly over something that isn't such a big deal though."
Still others seemed to imply that the company itself had a role to play in the crisis.
"I think it reflects in an extreme sense the bad management and communication YouTube has shown to both its large and small YouTubers. Although clearly, this was a vile act of hatred, it demonstrates the scale at which the company's actions have had an effect, and the negative impact on the health of people it has caused. Evidently this woman was not sane, and YouTube's changes were a key reason for it," said Kwami Glyn-Wright, a young teen YouTube enthusiast.
Most small YouTubers were more worried that they'd be even remotely associated with the shooter than anything else. Like Neistat, they were angry that this woman considered herself part of the broader YouTube family and they are worried that people might view up-and-coming YouTubers skeptically now that she has potentially given the broader YouTube world a bad name.
"It definitely does not make us smaller YouTubers look good, at all," said Alan Jay Ritchie, a 21-year-old who runs a YouTube channel called TheRitchieTV. "I believe the woman that took this action must of had some mental health issues. I do believe it does sometimes get tough being a small YouTuber. But doing such a thing, would never cross my mind. The monetization rule sucks. It really does… but YouTubers like myself that didn't make the threshold just accepted the fact, and are continuing to work harder to meet said threshold."
"Am I nervous about the situation? Yes, and no. No because, I have never been to the YouTube HQ. Yes, because someday, I possibly could. It puts me on the edge just thinking about it," Ritchie added. "I know of bigger YouTubers that have just recently been to that very HQ. My heart goes out to all those affected by this tragedy. I do think YouTube should take steps to support more smaller YouTubers. But this tragedy .. There is no excuse for doing such a thing."
"Smaller YouTuber or not. New rules or not. She was someone who made a mockery of the platform and all the users like us trying to make content for a smaller audience," said Athena P, a YouTuber in New York . "I dont give a shit about the new rules if she really cared that much about gaining money from making videos she never had the passion to begin with. When she killed she proved that capitalism and greed devoured her life. She is a disgrace to our community."