FROM BUZZFEED CREATOR TO (IN)DEPENDENT YOUTUBER - MANAGING PRECARIOUS LABOUR THROUGH GOSSIP
Keywords:precarity, YouTube, Buzzfeed, gossip, platform studies
AbstractSeveral known Buzzfeed Creators have left the company’s toxic culture by beginning a career as YouTubers. They hoped that their Buzzfeed audience would migrate to support their company-independent channel. Often represented as a move towards independence by creators, cultural production research (Nieborg & Poell, 2018; Burgess et al. 2020) has shown that creators are platform and audience dependent for viability. Therefore, we are questioning whether being an (in)dependent YouTuber would be more precarious than being an employed Buzzfeed creator. How does the migration from Buzzfeed to YouTube creator offer both independence and a host of new contingencies? Situating a content and discourse analysis of “Why I left Buzzfeed” YouTube videos and comments within academic and popular discourse, we understand these videos as sources of ‘gossip’ (Bishop, 2018) defined as “loose, unmethodological talk that is generative” (2590). Gossip can be beneficial to ex-Buzzfeed creators building on their Buzzfeed association to boost algorithmic visibility. Additionally, gossip is a valuable form of knowledge exchange for content creators to stay informed on discourse, support one another, and communicate their perspective on former Buzzfeed content. Gossip also allows us as researchers to break through the blackbox of YouTube content creation to better comprehend precarity as multifaceted. We hypothesize that creators have to balance different aspects of precarity depending on Buzzfeed as employer or YouTube as distributor. The imaginary of independence is a false friend as both employed and self-employed creators are dependent on platform governance and their platform public (Mniestri & Gekker, 2020) for success.
How to Cite
Mniestri, A., & Richter, V. (2021). FROM BUZZFEED CREATOR TO (IN)DEPENDENT YOUTUBER - MANAGING PRECARIOUS LABOUR THROUGH GOSSIP. AoIR Selected Papers of Internet Research, 2021. https://doi.org/10.5210/spir.v2021i0.12211