The unfortunate drawback of being a Youtube Partner is that you inherit all of the risks that a conventional television celebrity would inherit without any of the financial advantages those celebrities have.
What “risk” am I talking about?
The chance that you might gain the attention of crazy people whose lives have so little meaning they need to obsess over trivial nonsense, to the point they wholeheartedly believe elaborate fantasies they have invented about themselves and decided to involve you in; otherwise known as ‘stalkers‘.
I was once click bombed and had my reputation digitally assassinated by a group of stalkers. This was a very traumatic experience for me because they were trying to not just drag my name through the mud but also take away my business’ ability to earn revenue on Youtube.
Here is a video I created while I was going through the experience,
I’m telling you this upfront so you know two things; firstly, that I was click bombed and managed to keep my Adsense, and secondly that I understand every emotional thing someone who is being click bombed is going through.
This guide should help you retain your AdSense if you are being click bombed and if you haven’t yet, it can still help you by explaining what click bombing is, why people do it and how you can detect it before it is too late.
Understanding the Motivations of Click-Bombers
There are some uneducated folks who will insist Youtube Partners who get click-bombed have done something to “deserve” the harassment. These arguments are incredibly misinformed about the psychology of the mentally unbalanced.
I mean, can you tell me what Jodie Foster did to convince John Hinckley, Jr to shoot President Reagan?
I’ll tell you what she did; ABSOLUTELY <CENSORED> NOTHING!
However if you ask John Hinckley, Jr what she did he will weave you a fantastical tale of romance, adventure, and all kinds of other nonsense – all of which only ever existed inside his imagination!
Stalkers are a problem for everyone, but your probability of getting a stalker dramatically increases as awareness of ‘you’ increases. This is why celebrities get lots of stalkers, and Youtube Partners are no exception. If other people value what you say and you build a following — even a modest one — you can be certain that someone is going to demand your full attention simply because they believe if someone like you gives them attention they must be pretty important. Basically they want to leech off your popularity to make themselves feel special.
If you really get to the heart of it, stalkers are not at all interested in what the person they are stalking is doing. It is quite irrelevant to them. The stalker is focused entirely on themselves and what they can get out of the stalking, and that my friends is attention; and the worst is that the attention doesn’t necessarily need to come from you.
The attention can come from other people, like angry members of your fanbase, law enforcement officials or even other stalkers with a like-mind.
I should stress the latter, because it is very relevant to what we will talk about here. Before everyone became super connected through the internet, stalkers were isolated from other stalkers. They were loners and the kinds of crazy stupid things they could do were fairly limited.
However, now because of places like Youtube, Facebook, Skype and 4chan, they can form tight-knit stalker communities without needing to leave their bedrooms. They form strong friendships with other stalkers and assist one another in their stalking activities, sharing information and tactics to obtain attention.
This is a significant problem and it’s not being well addressed by places like Youtube and Facebook because there is so little information about these subcultures and how they function, even though the truth is they function much like any other kind of internet subculture; only instead of sharing images of funny cats they share people’s home addresses and software for clickbombing Youtube Partners.
Harassing you simply becomes an activity shared by the group, fed by the elaborate fantasies they invent about what you have done to deserve their wrath in order to justify their actions. This new breed of internet troll does not necessarily harass people to gain attention from the target, but rather to be praised by the group for how much of a good troll they are.
Of course, feeding the trolls by giving them the attention they crave makes things worse.
So I know about this stuff because I was stalked last year. I had information about myself and my family posted all over the net, including phone numbers. Dozens of videos and blog articles from anonymous trolls were made accusing me of everything from being a child molester to a dishonorably discharged soldier, and none of it was true. They dislike bombed my videos and internet movie database listings. And it required a strong effort to get Youtube and other services they used to remove this material; even to this day some of it still exists.
You might think that when third parties come across their videos, forum posts and comments on my videos, it will be obvious the stalkers are trolling…. but that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the trolling appears to be something else entirely and successfully deceives people. Rumors tend to be perpetrated by people who seek to obtain a measure of admiration from the person or group they are leaking information to., and some of these folk are not against fabricating information. Several individuals came out of the woodwork claiming to have some special insight or relationship with me in order to gain praise from the group for having shared the “information”; some of this shared “information” was a mixture of true information (stuff you could find in Google searches) and lies.
For example, my Youtube page listed my location as San Antonio, TX and I had mentioned in videos that I was a disabled Veteran. An individual suddenly appeared who made a series of videos claiming that he knew me from my active duty days and he met me when I was stationed at Fort Sam Houston, which is located in San Antonio, TX.
The truth is that I have never in my entire life been inside Fort Sam Houston; I had only recently moved to San Antonio, TX. Everything this individual said about me was a complete lie, based on what little information he had gathered about me from my Youtube page. But it was enough to convince several people in the stalker community that what he said was true, and they spread his lies in their own videos and blog posts about me. And he gained a lot of praise from his fellow stalkers for his actions.
You can find more information about the tactics internet stalkers use to harass their victims by reading the book
I spent months trying to do damage control and ensure I also posted wherever they were spreading lies, explaining the truth so that others who stumble across the posts in Google search results for my name don’t get the wrong idea. However, it was like chopping heads off a hydra; responding to one forum post simply resulted in several more popping up and soon there was a feeding frenzy as several troll communities banded together to milk whatever attention they might get out of cyber stalking me. Pretty much every blog I own was attacked, including my Facebook fan page which forced me to disable any of my fans from posting to it for a week.
I knew that giving them attention would not make things better, but I felt I had no other choices. Unlike some who are stalked I did not have a large fanbase to drown out the lies. If someone posts an insult on a Madonna video you will find at least a few dozen die-hard Madonna fans quickly respond to defend Madonna and legions more will click the ‘Dislike’ and ‘Spam’ buttons on the comment to make it hidden. This is not the case for someone like me who has a very small fanbase for my show.
However, the harassment only quieted down once two things occurred,
1) I started ignoring the trolls completely. I also disabled ratings on my videos so they could no longer dislike bomb them, and made posting comments to my videos and blogs approval only. This deprived them of ways to get attention from others by harassing me, since nobody could see their harassment.
Depriving them of ways to spam my videos infuriated them initially, but they eventually got bored and stopped trying to spam my videos.
2) Their group imploded on itself. This shouldn’t surprise anyone; there is no honor among thieves and the same goes for the mentally disturbed psychopaths who get their kicks by harassing people on the internet. Eventually they started turning on one another, using the secrets everyone shared about themselves to harass the weaker members of their group who were now a much easier target than I was.
(If you are wondering why I know so much about this, it is because I was sent a Skype chat log from the stalker group which detailed the whole shebang from their point of view. Like any good soldier, I studied it. After all, if you want to defeat your enemy you must first understand your enemy).
My assessment of the situation is that the stalkers turned to click bombing as a final resort in order to demonstrate to the target and each another that they have power and influence. The click bombings occurred after their months of ‘Report this video’ flag-bombing and Google forum posts did not result in the loss of my Partner account, and I began completing ignoring them. So they turned to click bombing to “teach me a lesson” and the lesson I was supposed to learn is that they have power over me.
I imagine this is the same motivation for all click bombers; to demonstrate they have power and are important.
When their actions failed to revoke my Partnership they became frustrated at each other and the group fell apart on its own due to the internal conflicts.
Anyway, pretty much nothing for Youtube Partners. This blog article is designed to change that. I survived a clickbombing and while I cannot say this will work for everyone, I can tell you this is what worked for me.
My primary occupational specialty in the United States Army was 11B; that’s Infantry. I can tell you that the absolute worst situation you could ever find yourself in as foot soldier is one where you cannot go on the offensive and all you can do is hold a position, defending yourself against wave upon wave of attack.
This is because the enemy has all of the advantages; they can attack you whenever they want and from whatever direction they want. They can bolster their forces with reserves, whereas your forces are surrounded. And because you are trying to hold a position the only resources you have are those with you in the position, whereas the enemy can keep supplying their forces with more and more resources.
And this is true in many other things, including publishing content on the internet.
The unfortunate thing about click-bombings is that you cannot “attack” the click bombers, and you cannot “recruit” anyone to help you defend against the click-bombings. You also have very limited means to defend yourself due to lack of information on what they are doing, such as what videos they are targeting. This is because AdSense doesn’t tell you what videos earned what clicks, and Analytics is very slow to update this information.
Step 1) Monitor Your AdSense Like a Hawk
All you can do is defend against their attacks and hold your position, but unlike real-life you cannot hear a gunshot or explosion to alert you to the attack happening. Click-bombings are silent attacks and there is only ONE place you can even see that they are taking place.
Your AdSense account.
I will repeat this for emphasis: The ONLY place you can see that a clickbombing is happening is from your AdSense.
Youtube Analytics WILL NOT tell you it is taking place. This is because Analytics does not update in real time and often has a delay of 2-4 days before it has actually made anything resembling a realistic earning statement, let alone an accurate view count. AdSense, on the other hand, is updated in real time.
By the time Analytics finally updates your account may already be shut down.
Everyone who uses AdSense should religiously monitor their AdSense account; and I am not exaggerating this.. You must catch it happening within the first few hours or your AdSense might be shut down by Google’s automatic algorithms for detecting invalid click activity.
I check my Adsense several times a day as a force of habit whenever I check my email.
If you are a Partner through another network (like Machinima for example) there is no way for you to know if you are being click bombed and hopefully someone at that service will be looking out for this stuff.
For everyone else who has their own AdSense connected to their Youtube account, this is what a clickbombing in progress looks like when it first begins,
This is a screenshot I took of the first clickbombing attack that happened to me. I caught it within 2 hours of the attack’s start (I know this because I had checked my AdSense an earlier, and then on a whim checked it again before going to bed. Plus the screenshot clearly says I last logged in two hours prior). I snapped this screenshot as soon as I recognized what it was.
For those unfamiliar with AdSense I will explain what you are seeing in the photo, and I have circled the only important information to us concerning click bombings (my earnings and other personal information has also been deleted as displaying that would violate the AdSense terms of service agreement).
‘Hosted AdSense for Content‘ is the label AdSense uses for Youtube earnings. I don’t know why they don’t make it more obvious, but that is what it is.
‘Page views‘ is the number of times an ad was displayed on your Youtube videos.
‘Clicks‘ is the number of times someone clicked on an ad.
‘Page CTR’ is the click through ratio of your videos. Generally speaking you should never see a Page CTR that is higher than 15%. Anything more than that is incredibly suspicious because the overwhelming majority of people DO NOT click on ads. Whenever you see large numbers of clicks on ads, you are most likely being click bombed (This is something even advertisers should be aware of, so they can realize when they are being ripped off by ad display networks).
You will notice in the above screenshot my Page CTR was about 37%. So you might think to yourself, “Oh, your Page CTR was not that high. It’s just 37%. You were just over-reacting.“
This is the screenshot I took when I refreshed the page,
The Page CTR is now 68.78%. Still think I was over-reacting? I hope not.
(I actually have the entire Skype log of the group who was doing this click bombing to my channel. It was sent to me a few months later when the group fell apart due to internal drama between the members, and basically they all started turning on one another. The log detailed about six months of harassment and included the organizing and execution of the click bombing attacks, and the dates of the log matched the activity in my records.)
Anyway AdSense eventually started trying to fix the damage, and dropped the earnings. I can’t show you how much it was but at certain points it was saying I had earned over a thousand dollars. Had I been paid those earnings the advertisers would have been very upset because they had been ripped off, and that is ultimately what the click bombers do; they try to make it look like the Youtube Partner is having their ads click bombed.
Why would a stalker want to do this? It’s because Google assumes the only people who might be benefited from click bombings are the owner of the channel, so they have an algorithm that will disable your AdSense if it detects a large amount of click activity. The account remains disabled until a live person at Google investigates it. The problem is it can take weeks, even months, for anyone to ever respond to you.
Meanwhile you will lose your Youtube Partnership because in order for an account to retain ‘Partner’ status it MUST be associated with an AdSense account. Even worse, some Partners who have had their Adsense disabled have attempted to make a new AdSense account and connect their account to it, but Google has a policy that says an individual may only have one AdSense account and making additional accounts will result in the termination of all accounts, so eventually those Adsense accounts get detected and closed. Eventually the Youtube Partnership is lost.
Essentially, click bombers use Google’s own policies against Youtube Partners they wish to harass by tricking the algorithms into shutting the account down.
Step 2) File an Invalid Click Report and Email Youtube Partner Support!
The only way to defend against them is to monitor your AdSense for suspicious activity and file an invalid click report with AdSense as soon as you notice something is wrong.
This must be done from the AdSense account that is affected. Include as much information as possible. Feel free to even file several dozen emails, to make sure someone sees it!
Additionally, I submitted an email to Youtube Partner support which included screenshots of the invalid click activity and the following message,
“To whom it may concern,
I am being click bombed, as these screenshots demonstrate. Picture 7 shows that I have attempted to disable ads on my videos yet ads are still showing and the click bombing is continuing. I own the Youtube Partner channels jfreedan,TheRPGFanatic and NinjaGKaiser. As the clicks are independent of views, I don’t know what channel is being attacked.
I hope you will not disable my Partner accounts, as I have done everything I possibly can do to prevent this aside from deleting my channels.
ManagingMember, Martell Brothers Studios, LLC”
I received the following reply,
“Thank you for emailing YouTube Partner Support.
You can find an answer to your question at the following Partner Supportresources.
– Find educational materials and chances to connect with the creator community at the YouTube Creator Hub: http://www.youtube.com/creators/
– Interact with and get answers to your questions from other Partners and YouTube experts at the YouTube Partner Forum:
– Search for step-by-step guidance and platform/feature information in theYouTube Partner Help Center
– Stay up-to-date with known site issues at the YouTube Known Issues Page:
You can also sign up for our product and program-related email communications from within your YouTube account by following these instructions:
The YouTube Partner Support Team
This is obviously a worthless form letter that provided me with no useful information, but that is beside the point.
The important thing is that someone at Youtube Partner Support might have forwarded my email to someone else who handles invalid click activity at AdSense.
Even if that didn’t happen, I now have a record that I promptly and correctly reported the invalid click activity was occurring to several parties at Google
This is important because if I did have my Partnership shut down I would be able to use this email in efforts to convince someone at Google that I was responsible in monitoring my AdSense click activity and should have it restored. This is a big deal because I have no record of my invalid click activity submissions, because Google does not send you a copy of the report you submit nor any email indication that they received it.
It is not enough to simply do one or two things when defending against something like this. You must use all possible resources at your disposal and take action to help yourself in the worst case scenario, which is having your Partnership revoked.
By emailing Partner Support ahead of time, you make it easier for the decision to be appealed and your Partnership re-instated should that occur.
Step 3) Disable ALL Ads on EVERY Video!
Having said all of this, you need to physically disable ads on every video you have put up. This is because the option to disable ads on all videos on your account does absolutely nothing.
I don’t care what the text says. It is broken. It does NOT stop displaying ads on your videos. Ads continue to be displayed and they keep clicking away. After toggling ads off using that box, I waited for TWO HOURS for the ads to stop being displayed and ads CONTINUED until I literally went into each and every video and disabled the ads manually.
You must go into EVERY video you have monetized and uncheck ALL the boxes for ads. If you are like me and have hundreds of videos on all your accounts, this can take over an hour to do and is incredibly tedious.
But it is the ONLY way to make the clickbombings STOP.
Do this to ALL videos you have!
I did not want to shut off my ads. I actually waited several days for AdSense or Youtube Partner support to respond, and in the meantime I left ads on my videos and kept submitting invalid click reports. I never heard anything back from AdSense about this matter. The click-bombings only stopped when I shut off my ads, because the trolls got bored or thought they had won.
I then left ads off my accounts for two weeks to ensure I got off the radar of the stalkers, so they could feel like they “won” and find something else to do.
Unfortunately this means the only way to protect yourself is to lose money. That sucks.
I wish I had better advice to give you, but Youtube has been very unhelpful in assisting Partners with this problem. Sure, my account wasn’t disabled but had they communicated with me and re-assured me my account would not be disabled, I would have been a lot less stressful for that entire period of time. I also got little to no assistance from other Partners, as they had no experience with the matter or wanted to chime in about how it must be my fault and I deserve it.
Nobody who is click bombed “deserves it”. Click-bombing is a malicious scam that is easily performed by anyone. All it requires is any software designed to enhance your mouse so you spam several clicks with just one mouse click, and use software that makes it appear that you have multiple IP addresses. It requires no actual technical skills to perform.
Someone who has never used a computer could be taught to do it in five minutes, it is that easy.
I could post the method here but I do not want to assist anyone who is seeking to do it. But it is a childishly easy thing to perform and Google should be embarrassed that their ad display network is vulnerable to it and that their own policies designed to protect advertising clients are actually hurting the people who make Youtube profitable — the Partners.
I hope this guide is useful to you.