You probably don’t know Paul Weedon by name, but you’ve probably seen him get punched in the face. He is the man behind the “I can’t believe you’ve done this” meme, an old, viral video in which he talks to the camera for a few seconds before someone off camera sucker-punches him mid-sentence.
It’s a canonical internet video that has spread far and wide since Weedon uploaded it to YouTube 14 years ago, and for reasons that he doesn’t understand, yesterday YouTube decided to remove it, citing its violence policies. Weedon has tried appealing YouTube’s decision, but the company denied his request.
“I got an email from YouTube late last night informing me that it had been taken down because it had violated their ‘violent or graphic content’ policy, which seemed a bit mad after all this time,” Weedon told Motherboard (disclosure: Weedon has written for Motherboard about becoming famous for the video.) “I’d maybe understand it if the video was new, but it’s been on YouTube for over a decade. At that point you’d have thought they’d have flagged that there was an issue with it and dealt with it.”
Weedon said he has no idea why the video was removed now, but he’s not worried about it disappearing from the internet.
“It’s got nothing to do with YouTube trying to clean up their image as there’s far worse content out there that they’re clearly not going to do anything about,” Weedon said. “I’m just sort of bewildered by the whole thing, but more than anything I’m just frustrated that a bunch of re-uploads of it are still allowed to stay online while mine has been taken down.”
As Weedon notes, it’s extremely easy to find many versions of the video still on YouTube, while his original upload was removed.
Weedon has shared his experience with YouTube’s appeal process on Twitter, which he believes he’s exhausted at the moment.
“I’ve reached out to YouTube’s creator support team twice, and both times they’ve basically just quoted their policy on graphic violence back to me,” Weedon said. “I don’t really know what my options are, aside from asking other more prominent YouTubers to kick off about it on my behalf.”
Weedon’s experience with Google’s hamfisted approach to moderation is far from unique. Just last week, Motherboard reported that YouTube has locked the Google accounts of the owner of a YouTube channel focused on the history of military technology for “terrorism-related content.” The accounts were restored after an outpouring of criticism from military enthusiasts and historians.
Update: YouTube restored the original “I Can’t Believe You’ve Done This” video after Motherboard reached out for comment.
“Upon review, we’ve reinstated this video. Due to the large volume of uploads, we sometimes make mistakes in removing content. When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it,” YouTube said in a comment to Motherboard.
Now we can watch an internet classic again: