On Saturday, YouTuber Alia Shelesh, a reactor known as Sssniperwolf with 34 million YouTube followers, posted a series of photos on her Instagram Story of the home of John Douglass, a comedian known to his 4.9 million YouTube subscribers as JacksFilms.
“Should I go visit JacksFilms? He lives five minutes away from my shoot,” Shelesh wrote.
Though the photo was quickly deleted, it quickly spread around her five million Instagram followers and eventually to Douglass, who wrote on X that Shelesh “just doxxed me on her IG.” In follow-up posts, Shelesh claimed she had no “ill intentions,” that Douglass had been “harassing” her, and that accusing her of doxxing is “defamation.”
Over the weekend, Sssniperwolf started trending on X, and calls for her to be de-platformed echoed throughout the social media platform. YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit harmful or dangerous behavior, which includes “threats or doxxing.” What started as a conversation about what reaction content means on YouTube, has now developed into an internet-wide feud and a mob of viewers that wants to see someone be held responsible.
For the uninitiated, reaction content has become the de facto way for creators to feed the algorithm. There are reactors that ask the original creator for permission and credit them, transforming the work so that it falls under Fair Use.
For his part, Jacksfilms has been making content for 17 years, consistently speaking up against reaction thieves and the concept of freebooting, or downloading copyrighted content and posting it elsewhere. Though Sssniperwolf started in the gaming space, her audience exploded when she started posting compilations of freebooted videos, often not crediting the original creators in the video or description. These videos offer her limited reactions, mostly describing what’s happening on the screen or just making odd noises, pulling in millions of views. According to Socialblade, her videos have received over 181 million views in the last 30 days.
YouTube has even seemingly endorsed Sssniperwolf. This year, she spoke at YouTube’s Industry Keynote at VidCon Anaheim, and on X the platform said she “is the creator of our dreams.”
In response to what Jacksfilms felt was a “terrible message to creators”, he started a channel solely dedicated to reacting to Sssniperwolf’s videos, satirizing the low-effort content with his own takes and commentary. In August he started streaming his reactions on Twitch, creating a game of Bingo full of her reused quotes and repeated editing effects.
Shelesh is not happy with Douglass’ take on her content, insulting his “hairline” and insinuating he only reacts to her because of her gender in now-deleted tweets. In her eyes, she’s the trendsetter, and others are just harassing her. In response to an accusation on X that she steals ideas, she wrote, “90% of what I upload are my ideas, people copy me and then people like you get confused.”
All of this culminated in the alleged doxxing attempt and calls for deplatforming. On X, YouTube responded to one user asking what its policy on doxxing is, and the platform said it doesn’t “allow harmful behaviors like threat & doxxing.” But the site hasn’t made an official public statement. Under YouTube’s Harassment and Cyberbullying policies in its Community Guidelines, the site prohibits “harmful behaviors, like threats or doxxing.”
Merriam-Webster defines doxxing as “to publicly identify or publish private information about (someone), especially as a form of punishment or revenge.” It’s fair to say that what Shelesh did falls under the category, especially since it seemed to be done out of malice and had a negative impact. According to Google Trends, searches for Douglass’ address shot up after the dox.
YouTube did not return a request for comment by publication.
Update, Oct. 23, 11 am ET: YouTube announced on Oct. 20 that it temporarily suspended Sssniperwolf from its platform.