Overwatch YouTuber Gets Harassed After Redditor Makes False Accusations

Over the past few years, Reddit has become the go-to destination for those who feel they have been mistreated and want to hold powerful figures accountable. But the popular website, which refers to itself as "the front page of the internet", is also a breeding ground for mobs that require little evidence before embarking on vociferous witch hunts. As one moderator told me after the Overwatch subreddit exploded this weekend, Redditors like to "upvote first, ask questions later".

Overwatch

This weekend, a thread on the Overwatch subreddit snowballed into a thousands-strong witch hunt against Overwatch YouTuber OhNickel. OhNickel's Overwatch commentary channel has about 800,000 subscribers. There, and on Twitter, he hosts occasional contests with Steam giveaway prizes.

Yesterday, on /r/Overwatch, a poster named "Vitalechz" claimed that "Overwatch YouTuber 'ohnickle' still hasn't given me my prize after 2 Months". (As some Redditors later pointed out, one red flag was that he misspelled the YouTuber's name.) In the post, he claimed that he had won one of the YouTuber's contests and that OhNickel had cheated him out of the Steam gift card he promised.

Reddit

The thread rocketed to the top of /r/Overwatch with 22,000 upvotes, and eventually, up to Reddit's front page, /r/all. Redditors were furious, spamming OhNickel's Twitter with vitriol and downvoting his YouTube videos en masse. When he woke up the next morning, OhNickel saw a "hate bandwagon" beyond anything he'd seen before, he said in a recent YouTube video. People called him a "scumbag" who advertised "scams". At worst, randoms told him to "die". Sympathetic Redditors offered the original poster Steam points.

But the Reddit poster, it turns out, was an imposter. OhNickel provided evidence that the real contest winner, who went by Vitalechz on Twitter, received his prize back in March. The real Vitalechz corroborated. The Reddit poster who inspired this witch hunt had simply used Vitalechz's Twitter name, which was all it took to fool people.

Redditor Turikk, a moderator on /r/Overwatch, told me that the subreddit had never experienced such an explosive post before. "I can't recall a situation in which a story appeared to have been fabricated from scratch, with no apparent intent other than to stir drama or defame," he said. "This original poster made a very deliberate attempt to get as much visibility as possible, whereas most users are looking for a genuine resolution to their problem." He added that Reddit can "tend to 'upvote first, ask questions later' when it comes to consumer issues".

It's yet another example of what can go wrong when internet crowds feed off misinformation. In 2013, a throng of Redditors collaborated to try to identify the Boston Marathon bomber, only to falsely accuse a student who had done nothing wrong. As OhNickel said on YouTube, sites like Reddit are ripe for anyone who wants to take "advantage of people willing to believe something without any proof".


Comments

    Absolutely pathetic.

    But why is it if I side with Hello Games or Nintendo or whatever against similar idiocy 'I'm just supposed to accept' on the internet about something remotely corporate-sounding, I'm a shill or a stooge, yet if I say Reddit should 'get with the times' or 'see things for what they are' I'm told it's not possible.

    Youtube isn't able to escape some blame here either, nor are the other social services people wantonly used simply to send abuse.

    There's a clear and present danger from the 'free speech free speech at any cost!' zealots who are then taken advantage of and used as rent-a-mobs in situations like this. Where they are recruited matters, and the sites should be held accountable. What are some of the worse sub-reddits people can name? If you make one up, would people know one way or the other?

      Yeah, I've lost count of the number of times I've been called a "Blizzard fanboi" etc due to trying to inject some realism into a discussion/complaint session.

        The trick is finding the forum most suited to what you already believe.

        You will never be called a Blizzard Fanboi if you only post on the Blizzard forums, you may even be looked down on as a hater!

        This way we can all have our safe spaces and be sure of how correct we are.

          Nah, official Blizzard forums are where the players go to complain. Check out the WoW forums and it's full of people complaining about WoW, saying how crap the game is, why they're quitting etc.....note - you need an active subscription to post on the WoW forums.

          That's actually one of the places I've been called a Blizzard fanboi the most...or a Blizz "white knight" is another one of their favorites.

          Personally i think of myself as more impartial than anything...which is probably why I disagree with the ranting internet complainers most of the time.

      Internet lynch mobs? Never! /s

      Don't even TRY to inject sensible discussion into the VR subs .... or say anything favourable to Oculus in /r/pcgaming or /r/pcmasterrace.

      Last edited 09/05/17 1:14 pm

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