On April 3, 2018 (Tuesday), Nasim Aghdam walked into YouTube’s headquarters (San Bruno, CA) and shot three employees before dying from a self-inflicted gunshot. Nasim was a YouTube content creator (also known as “YouTubers” or YouTube influencers) and micro-influencer (she had multiple accounts on YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook, in addition to Telegram, a popular Iranian social media network) with content on veganism, health, animal rights, among other varied topics.
Chief among her varied content included several videos and posts expressing anger at YouTube’s recent demonetization policies. Alongside YouTube’s growth as a dominant video platform and community, many YouTube creators or YouTubers have successfully built audiences and subscribers in the hundreds of thousands sometimes millions with millions of views on their videos or vlogs.
YouTube, in response to brands pulling their ads — ads that were served alongside extremist videos and potentially harmful videos (e.g. Logan Paul’s suicide forest video), revamped its monetization policy effectively making it much more difficult for new or smaller content creators to receive ad revenue via YouTube’s Partner Program.
Nasim described YouTube’s demonetization policy as censorship preventing her from sharing her views on vegan lifestyle, animal rights, and other topics.
While details of YouTube’s first shooting and Nasim Aghdam continue to come to light, here’s what is known:
YouTube Shooting Timeline:
January 19, 2018: Nasim legally purchases a 9mm Smith & Wesson at an undisclosed San Diego dealer
March 31, 2018: Nasim’s family files a missing person report in San Diego County
April 3, 2018 (1:40 am): Mountain View police find Nasim a couple of miles away from YouTube’s headquarters asleep in her car (via license plate listed in missing person report)
April 3, 2018 (~2 am): Mountain View police call and speak with Nasim’s family.
April 3, 2018 (~3 am): Nasim’s family calls back the police informing them of Nasim’s YouTube videos. At present, there are differing reports on whether or not Nasim’s family warned the police about her angst and possible travel to YouTube’s headquarters.
April 3, 2018 (morning, a few hours prior to shooting): Nasim visits a local gun range
April 3, 2018 (before 1 pm): Tweets (both real and fake) surface of an active shooter at YouTube’s headquarters
April 3, 2018 (evening): Nasim’s social media profiles and website are removed
Presently, there’s no evidence connecting Nasim to the victims shot. The victims of the YouTube shooting admitted to Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital include two women who have since been discharged (Tuesday evening) and a man who’s progressed from serious to critical condition.
Prior to the shooting, Nasim shared her ire towards YouTube via videos and posts across her social media channels. She believed that YouTube and other online networks censored people like herself in order to prevent her from sharing on veganism and related topics:
According to Nasim’s social profile (many if not all have since been removed), she described herself as a “vegan artist, bodybuilder, and animal rights activist:” BuzzFeed reporter Brianna Sacks shares the following about Nasim with an adjoining photo possibly of Nasim at a rally:
Like Facebook, Instagram and many other social media sites, YouTube introduced advertising on its platform to turn its free service into a profitable business. The addition of ads generates revenue for YouTube and gives YouTuber influencers a means to make money.
The term demonetization refers to the rules and restrictions YouTube enacts that determine which YouTubers qualify for its ad program, YouTube Partner Program (YPP). In response to advertisers pulling their ads served alongside unsafe brand content, YouTube changed their monetization rules requiring YouTubers to amass at least 10,000 video views prior to enrolling in its Partner Program. Once enrolled, YouTubers’ videos were eligible for advertising so long as they met the platform’s community guidelines and advertiser guidelines.
On January 16, 2018, YouTube announced sweeping changes to its monetization policy. As of February 20th, a YouTube channel must have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of video views within the past 12 months to qualify for its Partner Program. As a result, creators who used to make ad revenue are no longer eligible and/or videos previously earning ad revenue demonetized due to stricter content guidelines.
Related Post: What To Know About YouTube’s New Demonetization Policies
According to The New York Times, Nasim was both popular and ridiculed in her home country Iran. Since the shooting, many YouTubers and influencers of all types and sizes have shared their thoughts on the incident and Nasim Aghdam.
Casey Neistat, who previously has been vocal about and experienced demonetization himself, called Nasim a “monster.”
While some of Nasim’s complaints have also been publicly shared by other YouTubers, others, even those who have complained adamantly and experienced significant demonetization on their videos, have different stances on what Nasim characterized as “censorship.” Luke Rudkowski, an independent journalist of half a million subscriber channel WeAreChange, was quoted in The New York Times on Nasim: