YouTube has changed directions and decided to remove the channel of a prominent creator who pleaded guilty earlier this week to coercing a number of underage girls into sending sexually explicit videos.
Austin Jones, a 26-year-old creator known for a capella covers of popular songs, told girls between the ages of 14 and 15 to send him videos “dancing in a sexual manner” and performing sexual acts in order to prove they were his biggest fans, according to Buzzfeed. Jones was arrested on child porn charges in June 2017, but allegations from fans first started spreading online in 2015.
Despite his guilty plea, YouTube initially refused to terminate Jones’ channel. That’s because YouTube believed his crime wasn’t closely related to the content of his channel, according to Tubefilter.
YouTube considers whether a crime relates to the creator’s channel
Now, just a couple of days later, YouTube has removed Jones’ channel completely. A description at the top of Jones’ page now reads, “This account has been terminated for violating YouTube’s Community Guidelines.” It was officially removed on February 6th. Jones’ channel was first removed from YouTube’s monetization partner program in 2017.
“We take safety on YouTube and allegations of sexual misconduct very seriously,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Verge. “When we’re made aware of serious allegations of this nature we take action, which may include terminating business relationships, suspending monetization, or, in some cases upon conclusion of an investigation, terminating channels.”
YouTube has removed channels after their creator broke the law in the past. As Tubefilter points out, YouTube removed the channel of two parents, Heather and Michael Martin, whose videos were focused on pranking their kids after they were convicted of child neglect.
The story is different when it comes to celebrities. If someone’s channel is used to host music videos or short films and that person convicted of a crime, YouTube has usually left the channel intact since the content is determined to not be directly related.
YouTube has been criticized for its inaction on Jones’ channel over the past few days because he often used his connection with fans to coerce them into sending videos. Court documents show that Jones reached out to more than 30 girls, urging them to get naked or perform sexually explicit acts as fans of him and his YouTube presence.
“I know you’re trying your hardest to prove you’re my biggest fan,” he told one girl in 2016, according to court documents. “And I don’t want to have to find someone else.”
Correction February 7th, 1:30PM ET: This story’s headline initially said Jones had been convicted; he pleaded guilty.