YouTube Shorts: A Utopia for Bots and Scammers


Ben Jensen, Journalist

Every social media app has been implementing a new way of sharing short videos. 

Instagram introduced “Reels” after the rise of TikTok, and Snap Chat has implemented a similar feature. YouTube also hopped on the wagon and implemented “YouTube Shorts.” This new type of video sharing was at one point a new legitimate way to make your YouTube channel grow. The algorithm allows Shorts to be shown or recommended to more people than regular videos. In fact, many small channels would get thousands of views on a Shorts video, but on a regular video it would get under a hundred views.


This algorithm trick, however, has given rise to bots and scammers that receive thousands of views and subscribers for little to no effort and constant spam.


In Game Currency Scams

While watching Shorts, you may come across hundreds of videos all claiming to offer an unrealistic amount of in-game currency for a video game, or app. One of the most common examples are Robux scams. 


Robux is the in-game currency for the popular online multiplayer game, Roblox. This game is usually played by kids ranging from 5-14 in ages. Because of this age range, scammers use unrealistic offers like “Free Robux” or “Unlimited Robux” to lure kids into a Robux scam. 


These scams are posted by bots on YouTube shorts using the same video and post it hundreds or thousands of times in order to trick the algorithm into having their videos seen more. In every video, the bots will always say “Click the link in the about section and answer some easy questions.” When the link is clicked, you will be taken to an unsecure website where you will be asked questions. The questions ask for when your birthday is, what’s your real name, in-game username, account password, age, gender, e-mail, and possibly a phone number. Many people on YouTube have even reported that these scams have also been asking for country, state, city, and postal zip codes. 


Another in-game currency scam is a “free v-bucks” scam. V-bucks come from the popular battle royal game Fortnite, and they’re used to purchase in-game cosmetic items, such as skins, emotes, usable items, and other cosmetics. V-buck scams have been all over the place since the rise of Fortnite; in fact, EPIC Games has handled the scams well by making it clear to their users that these are in fact scams and no one should share their password with anyone who asks for it. These scams would usually say that they offer “EPIC developer account” or “a website that generates v-bucks.” 


Many YouTubers have addressed this problem of in-game currency scams, and the only solution to the problem is to report the account for spam (or don’t click on them in the first place). 

Gift Card Scams 

YouTube bots have also been posting videos of a person offering gift cards, usually for stores, or for in-game currencies. The video is made in a “do this, for this” sort of fashion. The bot would ask that you subscribe to their channel and like their post in order to potentially receive a card. However, no one ever receives a card. These bots are created to gain a high subscriber count so that the owner of the bot would receive a YouTube play button, a common prize for a channel’s milestone. 


r/askreddit Bots 

Across all social media platforms, there has been a massive influx of r/askreddit bots. r/askreddit is where a question would be asked on Reddit, where anyone can answer that question. This subreddit has been home to many stories and interesting questions. From this, many legitimate YouTube channels were created to showcase many questions and answers from the subreddit. 


However, after the release of YouTube Shorts, many YouTubers either created or bought an algorithm that creates these r/askreddit videos at a rapid pace. Each video is almost exactly the same. The process of making them is all nearly exactly the same. In fact, a YouTuber even publicly released his video making bot to the public for free, which only exacerbated the problem. Each video has the same subway surfers/Minecraft background, horrible text to speech, and repeated questions.


As of now, there is no solution to this because YouTube sees these videos as legitimate videos and not published by bots.


Animation/Video Spam Bots

Animators on YouTube have been experiencing a serious issue, where people would steal their animations or artwork and use a bot to constantly post them on YouTube shorts. A common theme of these animations is kid-like animations related to gaming, like Minecraft, or Five Nights at Freddy’s, or popular cartoons. 


YouTube’s algorithm is actually more beneficial and lenient to videos that are made for kids, which means that they’re likely to be recommended or more frequently shown on Shorts. This means that people who steal animations will receive a very high view count and maybe a high subscriber count. As to be expected, YouTube hasn’t really done anything besides removing the bots.


Explicit Photo Bots

Surprisingly, there is an extraordinarily high amount of explicit photo bots on YouTube shorts. They’re incredibly frequent and are starting to become a serious problem. The videos are made in the exact same way but sponsor a different theme. Each video has some sort of person dressed in a kid’s costume, like a Spider-Man costume, and pose sexually. There is also a message on each video to “check the comments” or to “read the description”. In the comments or in the description, would be a very suspicious link. Many people have reported that these links lead to an explicit site that steals your information, or it’s just a link to a virus/malware. The main problem with this is that these bots are being exposed to minors and other young users. 


Random Advertising Bots

Although not as serious as the explicit images bots, some people are trying to sell a certain product that’s meant to solve a problem, such as relieving stress, eyeglass solutions, or even promoting a drink. However, these advertisements have also utilized bots, and constantly spam the same poorly made, reused tik-tok ad. Sometimes these ads also hint at sexual or offensive themes regarding their product. This is also a problem on other social media platforms, and not really a big problem as a community. 



The YouTube algorithm should be reformed because of how easily it is to exploit it for views, likes, and subscribers. As of today, more and more bots are pouring into the Shorts and absolutely ruining the whole experience. YouTube has done almost nothing to solve this problem, and are continuing to let this happen. In fact, hundreds of real YouTubers and content creators have voiced their displeasure with YouTube’s current state. Due to YouTube’s poor and flavorist management, it’s possible YouTubers will not see a solution to this problem.