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“Reply Girls”, are female YouTubers who are known for uploading videos in response to an already popular or trending video in an attempt to capitalize on the high view counts. They typically use sexually suggestive thumbnails, often with prominently exposed cleavage, to solicit views.
Canadian YouTuber Alejandra Gaitan created a new YouTube channel titled “thereplygirl” on July 18th, 2011, where she began uploading videos using thumbnails showing exposed cleavage (shown below, left) as replies to up-and-coming YouTube videos. On August 9th, 2011, YouTuber MeganLeeHeart, created the “MeganSpeaks” YouTube channel, in which she began uploading reply videos with similar exposed-cleavage thumbnails of arrows pointing at her chest (shown below, right). Within seven months, the channel received over 10 million views and thousands of dislikes.
On February 11th, 2012, YouTuber icklenellierose uploaded a video titled “Dear Reply Girls” (shown below, left), in which she criticizes the trend for being annoying and obtrusive. On February 15th, YouTuber Skweezy followed suit by calling for YouTube viewers to boycott reply girls videos (shown below, right). Within one year, the video received over 1.1 million views and 8,600 comments.
On Feburary 23rd, a thread titled “Reply girls’ ruining YouTube” was posted to the forums for the Minecraft podcast Yogscast. The original poster argued that the reply girl videos were actually spam and thereby violate the YouTube terms of service against “misleading descriptions, tags, titles or thumbnails in order to increase views.” The same day, a rage comic about reply girl videos (shown below) was submitted to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) gamer subreddit /r/gaymers. On February 24th, The Daily Dot published an article describing the reply girl phenomenon as “Tittiepocalypse” and commented on the use of cleavage photos in thumbnails as well as the growing backlash against the videos.
On February 23rd, 2012, YouTuber blogger HappyCabbie published a post titled “MeganLeeHeart threatens to have someone killed,” which included embedded screen shots of a message from Heart threatening another YouTuber with violence if they copied her video descriptions. Two days later, YouTuber cheekizms uploaded a video featuring footage from Heart’s old SkitsNVlogs web series and messages showing Heart threatening other users with physical harm.
On March 5th, 2012, The Daily Dot reported that Heart had been accused of working with accomplice and boyfriend Brian Martin, also known on YouTube as LifeInATent, to use bots to take out competitor reply girls videos with a screenshot of an e-mail sales receipt for “540K YouTube Viral Views” billed to Brian Martin (shown below). However, this has been contested by Heart, who claims the receipt was photoshopped. On May 16th, The Daily Dot ran an interview with reply girl Alejandra Gaiten, who claimed Heart threatened to release her personally identifying information and physically harm her.
Anti-Reply Girl Script
On February 26th, 2012, a “YouTube Anti Replygirls” script was submitted to the hosting site Userscripts.org, which allowed users to remove known reply girls videos from their YouTube pages, including lauratickled, supercomicbookgirl and bot accounts like JessicaReview.
On February 27th, 2012, a Change.org petition was created urging Google and YouTube to take a stance against the video spam. Within 24 hours the petition had received over 3,000 signatures. Several complaint threads have been created on the YouTube Help forum calling for the service to put an end to the reply girls videos on the site.