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YouTube Discloses Glitch That May Have Inflated Total Channel View Counts

Video site downplays impact, claiming system overcounted views only on 21 days over recent six-month period

YouTube said it has discovered an error in how it tabulates lifetime view counts on channels — a bug that may have inflated total video views to date.

The Google-owned video giant said that it is working to correct the glitch over the next few days. “As we fix this issue, you may notice lower total view count numbers across these features,” YouTube said in a post on its support site on Friday.

For example, PewDiePie — the gaming vlogger who runs the most-subscribed individual channel on YouTube — currently has 14,652,762,481 total all-time views since April 2010. Now, YouTube says such tallies may be incorrect.

However, YouTube claims the problem would not have skewed total view numbers very much. The system overcounted views only on 21 days over the course of the six-month period from August 2016 to January 2017, a YouTube rep said.

According to YouTube, the incorrect view counts appear on a channel’s “About” page (which shows views for all your public videos), on the playlist view counts on Playlist pages, and on the channel view count reported by any third-party services that use data from the YouTube data API as well as the YouTube Analytics Watch time report.

YouTube said the issue does not affect revenue or reports; subscriber counts on watch and channel pages; or video view counts below the player on watch pages.

Last summer, YouTube announced that it had fixed a glitch that caused channels to display inaccurate subscriber counts. With the update, public subscriber counts on channels changed to reflect the recent purge of inactive or bogus followers, according to YouTube.

And two months ago, YouTube creators began complaining of a dramatic drop in views for individual videos, which may have been related to changes YouTube appears to have made to its suggested-videos algorithm. That led PewDiePie to claim he would delete his channel in protest over the issue once it hit 50 million subscribers — before revealing that it was all a joke.

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