YouTube has become one of the biggest social media platforms today. Its popularity has grown immensely in a matter of a decade and still continues to pull in millions of users each day. YouTube is a site that allows users to not only watch videos, but upload their own content to gain subscribers, views, and money. The platform was not always this mainstream, but it is interesting to see how much it evolved to be so in a short period of time. YouTube, overall, has affected many people’s social practices, ways of seeing and sharing content, and continues to integrate different types of social media into one site.
The platform was created by “former PayPal employees, Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley, and Steve Chen in 2005” (Fitzpatrick, 2010). Hurley and Chen had filmed a video prior to the creation of the site and there was no way to share it at the time as the technology computers had and the websites that made up the internet then were not as finely developed as it is today, so files were large and unable to travel around quickly (Wasserman, 2015). Also, after seeing the 2004 Superbowl wardrobe malfunction with Janet Jackson exposing one of her breasts, the men felt as if there were no available ways of finding and sharing the clips, so they came up with the idea of a video sharing site (Cosgrove, 2015).
The name of the site was to target its users, hence the word “you,” and “tube” was referring to the integral piece that allowed people to watch television (McFadden, 2019). Hurley was the one to get the “name, logo, and domain trademarked on February 14, 2005” (Dickey, 2013). Once the site went live soon after, Karim was the first person to post a video called “Me at the Zoo,” which was eighteen seconds long, and he spoke of the elephants seen in the background (Jawed, 2005). The site started gaining traction a few months later after a Nike ad was posted about a “Brazilian soccer player who had received his Golden Boots;” it was the first video to receive one million views (McFadden, 2019). Google ended up buying the company in 2006 and since then, thousands of videos have been created and billions of views and users have been accumulated, especially in recent years as the platform has given opportunities for creators to make careers out of making videos. A major predecessor of YouTube was Netflix because its mail service allowed customers to rent DVD’s and it was one of the only video-sharing services around. It is interesting that even though Netflix served as a forerunner to YouTube back then, Netflix has become one of the biggest video streaming services in today’s culture, making it one of YouTube’s biggest paid streaming competitors. Other competitors include free and paid streaming services such as Vimeo, Twitch, DailyMotion, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and Facebook videos (Bhasin, 2018).