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Deceptive advertising or misleading content is a controversial bait-and-switch act of using polished YouTube thumbnails, misleading titles or other to lure users into a YouTuber's place when the video itself is often unrelated to the topic that is often featured on the title or the thumbnail.

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This example of typographical error is no longer used.


Clickbait is a pejorative term describing web content that is aimed at generating online advertising revenue especially at the expense of quality, or accuracy relying on sensationalist headlines to attract click-throughs and to encourage forwarding of the material over online social networks.

Clickbait Thumbnails[]

During the early days of YouTube, clickbait thumbnails were often achieved by quickly flashing a picture of an attractive female and/or breasts during the middle, when the content itself may not feature the woman at all. Once YouTube added the thumbnail feature, it was much easier to add clickbait thumbnails.

Click bait glamrock bonnie

As of recent times, a clickbait thumbnail can often be shown as images featuring a red circle or arrow pointing to a blurred focus in the image, with the recent YouTube audience being quite fond of creepy/conspiracy theory videos, where this type of thumbnail is seen most often. Clickbait thumbnails may also use logos, such as the FaZe logo or Roblox logo, and have red eyes and/or fake tears to trick someone into watching their videos. Notable examples are Realmatt (not anymore), Glacial - Roblox (not anymore), Oboat and others. Usually, at the beginning of the video, they use a trick to get more likes and subscribers by saying "You have 5 seconds to like and subscribe or this spider (bad luck) will appear on you."

Screenshot 20230121 120034 YouTube

An example of "natural disaster"-type clickbait thumbnail

Another type of clickbait thumbnail is when a certain natural disaster is over, there might be a video with a misleading title and badly photoshopped thumbnail (e.g., a thumbnail of an unrelated destruction with an image of tornado over it or something else).

Fake/Misleading Titles[]

The YouTuber uses a misleading title to grab a user's attention and get views when the title is actually not related to the video at all, such as when the title of the video is in all caps.

Fake/Misleading Thumbnails[]

The YouTuber would use a misleading thumbnail to grab a user's attention and trick them into thinking the actual content is in the video, such as an image edited with Photoshop of the content in the video to exaggerate the result. Another example would be the YouTuber photoshopping themselves onto the thumbnail with an over-exaggerated reaction.

Provocative Thumbnails[]

Much like the pre-custom thumbnail era, there are numerous videos with thumbnails of women in scantily-clad outfits to attract viewers. Sometimes they are actually featured in the video itself. This type of advertising is used by obscure music curators, such as the Deep House music channels.


Watch this before youtube bans it..(Hurry Up!)

An example of a provocative thumbnail.

3:00 AM Challenge Videos[]

The 3:00 AM Challenge is a recent trend of clickbait content featuring creators seeking paranormal activity at 3:00 AM, which some call "the devil's hour" or "the witching hour." The YouTuber is often seen attempting to call a well known character on their phone, playing hide-and-seek with dolls or asking Siri spooky questions on his/her iPhone at 3 AM, though whatever happens in the video is obviously completely staged.

Channels infamous of making this type of content include, RubyRube and N&A Productions, as well as YouTuber ImJayStation who is believed to have popularized the trend. They often cater to a younger audience, featuring names and figures well known in kids television or films, such as Boss Baby.

Fake content[]

Fake accounts[]

Fake pewdiepies 11

An example of fake accounts

Fake Accounts are the most controversial type of users on YouTube, a user creates an account that pretends to be a well known character or famous person (such as Mario, Sonic, PewDiePie, etc.). They create misleading videos such as fake giveaways for free iPhones, iPads, MacBooks and money and fake investing advice. They also spam and flood comments, fake a nationality, age, gender, country or any information of a person, use bots to generate subscribers, comments, views and other. Creating fake accounts is against terms of service and community guidelines. Also, software being used to create automated fake accounts is illegal and can lead to real-life problems with the law enforcement and/or cause a account being terminated/banned.


Malvertising (malverts, malicious [software] advertisements) is a type of cyberattack in which the perpetrators use online advertisement platforms to propagate malware and other unwanted software, these types of YouTube videos/ads will have links to downloads containing viruses and trojans, often promising free downloadable content such as a film or software. Phishing is a type of social engineering scam in which the victim is led to either leak personal information or download malicious software, due to said scam appearing as a legitimate content/information to said victim.

Fake Full Movies[]

Stolen full movies

An example of stolen full movies.

A user uploads a video with the title similar to "[blank] FULL MOVIE HD". The video is often 30 minutes to an hour long (about the length of the movie) with a thumbnail of the starting screen card, though no actual movie in the video itself, instead, text instructing them to click on the link in the description to a questionable site.

Fake tutorials[]

YouTubers who create tutorials in their videos to trick viewers into thinking they work but actually don't. These too, often consist of malware-ridden links in the description. Channels infamous due to this reason are 5-Minute Crafts and Troom Troom, though they do not upload malware-ridden links in descriptions.

Free products scams[]

Free in-game currency scams[]

A user uploads a video with the title "I Got Free (Number) (In-Game Currency)!!!" or "How to get Free (In-Game Currency) by Watching a Video!" This does not work because you have to pay when buying virtual currency and vulnerable people who play such games are more likely to click on these sites. This usually ends up in a stolen account and/or stolen real life information, even credit cards.

Free credit cards, debit cards, gift card codes[]

Videos with credit cards can be easily found. These usually are fake, or real (in very rare occasions). If they are real, any purchases you make on them might be charged back, resulting in your losing your items or even getting banned on that website/game/application. Gift card codes usually are fake, made up, or already redeemed by the original person 'giving them away'.



Many videos are infamous for having very long titles, as well as overusing symbols in them like the exclamation mark (!), being written in all caps, and using first person pronouns.


When a YouTuber is losing relevance, they will eventually resort to targeting other YouTubers and eventually igniting drama/beef with them in order to stay in the spotlight. Other times, they might make up lies about the YouTuber themselves, especially about something controversial.

Some, on the other hand, mock deceased YouTubers or one of their deceased family members.