YouTube warns creators of subscriber count declines amid purge of closed accounts

YouTube is warning creators they may see their subscriber numbers decline this week as the result of a purge that will remove closed accounts from YouTube metrics. Closed accounts could refer to those that were willingly shut down by users or those that YouTube shut down for policy violations — like spam or abuse, for example.

The company informed creators of the possible loss of subscribers via a message on its Help site community forum, Twitter feed, as well as through a notification on YouTube Creator Studio, its dashboard for channel management.

It explains that a purge like this is routine and a part of YouTube’s ongoing efforts to ensure the site stays free from spam and abuse. But while the removals may lead to a creator’s subscriber numbers dropping, YouTube says this shouldn’t have an impact on a channel’s watch time.

Creators who are affected by the purge will see the changes to subscriber accounts appear in their YouTube Analytics for December 3 through December 4. To view the exact numbers of closed accounts that are removed from a channel, creators have to click on the “See more” menu in YouTube Analytics, then select “Closed Accounts” from “Subscription Source.”

Purges like this are not popular with most creators because subscriber numbers determine whether or not they become eligible for certain monetization tools, like channel memberships or merch shelf, for instance. It’s also a factor as to whether creators can join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). For smaller creators just nearing the 1,000-subscriber threshold for entry into YPP, even a small drop in subscriber counts can impact their ability to monetize.

For that reason, many smaller creators are asking fans to double-check to ensure they’re still subscribed as they believe purges like this remove legitimate accounts from their fan base, not just spam and closed accounts.

According to social media posts from creators, the impacts of the purge seem to vary wildly by channel. Some only report losing a few subscribers, others say they lost thousands.

This isn’t the first time YouTube has purged subscribers. Last December, it warned creators it would be removing a significant number of spam accounts over a two-day period, which would lead to large declines in subscriber numbers.

Reached for comment, a YouTube spokesperson said:

“We’re always working to ensure that metrics on YouTube reflect legitimate user interest and regularly validate the legitimacy of accounts and actions on YouTube channels. We’ve recently identified and removed a number of subscribers that were closed accounts from our systems. Some creators will see their metrics drop as a result, and on average, impacted channels will see their subscriptions decrease by fewer than 15 subscribers.”