A popular YouTuber with a massive following in the electric vehicle community announced in a video last week that he was selling his latest salvaged Tesla in favor of purchasing a gas powered vehicle. Within hours the video was flagged and taken down by YouTube.
Rich Benoit runs the popular YouTube channel Rich Rebuilds, where he uploads videos of himself tinkering with and rebuilding salvaged Tesla vehicles. His channel has over 700,000 subscribers and over 80 million views.
In a video published to YouTube last week titled “Why I’m selling my Tesla and going back to Gas,” Benoit announced he would be selling his recent Tesla project—a rebuilt 2013 Tesla Model S P85—in favor of purchasing a gas powered vehicle.
“This video is going to be a little bit different. In this episode I’m going to re-building a Tesla Model S,” Benoit can be heard saying in the originally published video. “It’s going to be from start to finish in one episode, while I talk over the reasons why I’m switching back to gas. Kind of ironic, isn’t it?”
The video was only up for a few hours before being taken down by YouTube for violating Community Guidelines.
“The Tesla fanboys formed like Voltron and ganged up to flag my video for removal on youtube,” Benoit said in a tweet. “The video which was flagged for ‘inappropriate content’ was about me selling my Tesla and buying a gas car instead.”
Most of the comments online were in support of Benoit, though some asked him to provide proof that fans of Tesla had flagged the video.
In an email to Motherboard, Benoit pointed to the high dislike ratio on his video within the first 15 minutes as the reason why he suspects it was in fact die hard fans of electric vehicles who flagged his video.
“People clearly did not like the content even though there was no cursing,” Benoit said. “I've been on YouTube for several years now and I've never had a video pulled, so having a video pulled within five hours after announcing that I'll be replacing my Tesla with a gas powered vehicle doesn't seem like a coincidence.”
He also said that after submitting an appeal, he received a message from YouTube stating the video had not violated Community Guidelines and had been reinstated. Motherboard also watched the video and it doesn’t appear to violate any of YouTube’s Community Guidelines.
"With the massive volume of videos on our site, sometimes we make the wrong call," a YouTube spokesperson told Motherboard. "When it's brought to our attention that a video has been removed mistakenly, we act quickly to reinstate it. We also offer uploaders the ability to appeal removals and we will re-review the content."
Benoit explained he would still be uploading Tesla content to his channel, but as a car enthusiast simply wants to diversify his online content to both gas and electric vehicles and not be tied to one car. He also noted his family still owns several Tesla vehicles.
“I own Teslas and always will. My wife owns a Tesla Model X. My daughter drives a Model S. My kids under 9 drive mini power wheels Teslas. I also have another Model X and a Model S personally,” Benoit said.
After reuploading the video it was once again flagged and taken down.
“I have given up yes,” Benoit said when asked if he would try uploading again. “It's not worth it me trying for a third time.”
Update: This story has been updated with comment from YouTube.