The Six Stages of YouTube Grief: What to Do When Your Channel Is Hacked
When YouTube sends you an email saying your company is an egregious rule breaker and no longer welcome on their platform, a few things are likely to happen, and likely in this particular order:
1) You assume it’s a scam.
It’s got to be some Russian hacker/Nigerian prince/long lost friend in trouble trying to get money. And you’re no sucker, so you ignore it.
2) You investigate.
But it looks pretty legit, so you study the email and realize they are not asking you to do anything — not to click a link or download a file or call — they are simply telling you your terrible, egregious rule-breaking channel is no longer on YouTube. You navigate over to YouTube and, sure enough, there is no evidence of your company’s YouTube channel. You even go to your company’s website and click the YouTube icon in the header to make sure you’re not searching wrong. But alas: It. Is. Gone.
3) You get the flop sweats.
Your mind races, wondering what terrible, horrible rule-breaking content you accidentally somehow posted to your company’s YouTube channel, which by some accident of fate and poor planning you are the lone admin of. After a period of time has passed (5 minutes to 2 hours depending on your panic susceptibility), you lash out.
4) You deflect.
Cleary this wasn’t your fault, you’ve uploaded nothing to the company channel in months and all content you uploaded was pure and appropriate and certainly not egregiously rule-breaky. One of your teammates must have been the terrible, horrible violator. After a flurry of “I didn’t do it, did you?” after-hours texts, it is clear no one has uploaded anything, much less the rule-breaking content YouTube is referencing.
5) You object.
After establishing that no one on our team was a saboteur, you figure you’ve been hacked. So you initiate an appeal with YouTube/Google. That’s when things get really confusing — and somewhat existential.
As it turns out, you are rule breakers who don’t exist.
6) You question your very existence, then you seek help.
You desperately reach out to anyone at Google that you can get ahold of to plead your case. And if you’re in luck, like we were, this leads to a calm and rational discussion (read: multi-step process detailed below) about your obedient rule-following tendencies, and upon review, your account is restored. And btw, if your YouTube channel ever gets hacked, we strongly advise befriending a man named Marcus on the Google YouTube Team. (Hi Marcus. Thanks again for the hook-up. CALL US!)
The following is the step-by-step process we went through to reclaim the YouTube channel that was unceremoniously absconded.
1. We contacted firstname.lastname@example.org to describe the problem, the channel name, and the message sent to us by YouTube. (March 17, 2021)
2. We got an email from email@example.com saying that they would look into the Google Account that was compromised. (March 17, 2021)
3. We filled out a form that asked a series of questions to help the YouTube rep figure out what happened. (March 17, 2021)
4. The YouTube Rep (my man Marcus) sent another series of questions that we answered. (March 18, 2021)
5. Marcus sent all of our info to a specialist on their team and started the investigation. (March 19, 2021)
6. Marcus sent an update and confirmed that we were indeed HACKED!! He told us to change our password and enable 2-step verification. Instructions were followed, and we sent word back to our dear friend at YouTube. (March 20, 2021)
7. Our BFF Marcus informed the specialist and told us that he’d update us with any news. (March 21, 2021)
8. Main man Marcus thanked us for our patience and recovered our channel for us. The suspension was resolved, and the cleanup was done. His words that finally ended the flop sweat for the first time in weeks: “Currently the channel is live!” He gave us more instructions on how to secure our channel, check our permissions settings, and remove any suspicious emails. (March 22, 2021)
The moral of our tale of woe: bad things happen to good, rule-abiding people; don’t give up, help is available; and also — backup your content!
Now: Do you suppose Marcus is single? I mean, he was very helpful.