A video was posted on his YouTube channel explaining the situation in his own words:
Scott Manley was streaming Fractured Space, a 5v5 space combat game that was being given away for free over the weekend. Unfortunately, Mr. Manley had the stream key visible at the beginning of the livestream.
A stream key is a code generated by services such as YouTube (as detailed here) that allow YouTubers to stream directly to their channel with an outside program such as XSplit or Open Broadcaster Software. Anyone who has the stream key for a particular service such as YouTube or Twitch can then use this software to stream directly to the channel with no other authorization.
According to Scott Manley himself, the YouTube stream would not close out after he had finished his livestream for the night and so he assumed that it would eventually close down on its own. Unfortunately, it did not. People who had seen the key then used it to stream via Xsplit or OBS.
Every time a new person streamed, the previous stream would begin processing as any other livestream does on YouTube. The frequent changes in streamers resulted in dozens of videos being sent out to the subscribers of Scott Manley and caused his subscription numbers to plummet by at least 9,000 according to his channel’s stats page on social media statistics tracker Social Blade.
Some of the people streaming attempted to altruistically keep it away from trolls and other malicious people who had an opportunity to cause damage to the reputation and livelihood of Scott Manley. While there were quite a few people successful in this endeavor, there were unfortunately also quite a few people successful in showing pornographic and copyrighted content during the short bursts of time that they were able to control the channel. As a result of these violations of the YouTube community guidelines, Scott Manley has lost many of his YouTube privileges, including the ability to livestream and the ability to post videos longer than 15 minutes.
I reached out to Scott Manley for comment via e-mail and he had the following to say:
It was a mistake on my part that revealed the key, and that was compounded by the youtube streaming UI not working properly and making it impossible for me to close the stream event after I’d finished. So the stream hung around all day with people popping into chat asking when it would start.
Then people started using the key to stream content, there were multiple people, and every time it switched a new video would be posted to my channel. So my subscribers were getting dozens of notifications of new videos, mostly garbage. About 13,000 people unsubscribed as a result.
Some of the content posted violated copyright or community guidelines (porn), I could laugh at everything else but given the number of kids who watch me the porn was insensitive. Regardless, because of this a number of yotube priviledges were revoked and the stream shut down. Before I got the message first thing on Sunday morning.
I tried to clean everything up contacted youtube support, sent messages to lots of people, and posted a quick explanation video.
About 7000 people have resubscribed. Youtube still hasn’t responded to me in 24 hours.
There’s a lot of people sharing blame here, I hope youtube spends more effort on fixing the shortcomings of its system, and I hope other people pay attention to my stupidity and are more careful with streaming credentials.
And I hope I get all my priviledges back so I can have a proper laugh about this whole event.
Scott Manley has stated in the update video that he will be focusing on streaming on his Twitch channel in the meantime while he waits for YouTube to sort things out on their end. He also expressed his gratitude for the people who resubscribed to his channel after the unauthorized streams had ceased. Scott Manley is still short several thousand subscribers compared to his numbers on Saturday. If you unsubscribed to him as a result of the constant videos in your subscription box you can now safely resubscribe.
Scott Manley is best known on YouTube for his entertaining and educational videos about space and space-related video games, most notably Kerbal Space Program. His most popular videos include an explanation of the power needed to destroy a planet and a beginner’s guide for Kerbal Space Program (which has since been supplanted by a multi-video series).
Scott Manley is respected in the YouTube community for his unerring positivity as well as his passion for space and science. I’m a fan of his videos and they’ve helped me be slightly less terrible at Kerbal Space Program. I hope that YouTube gets its act together and helps him sort through this disaster as well as rectify the backend issues that apparently allowed these hijacked streams to continue for far longer than necessary.
Are you a fan of Scott Manley? What do you think of the claim that YouTube’s backend made it difficult to terminate the stream or change the stream key while it was hijacked? Does this impact your view on YouTube’s usefulness or quality as a streaming service? Let us know in the comments below!