Teen’s YouTube Channel Hacked by a Bully, Google Comes to the Rescue

13-year-old Thomas has a passion for technology and animation. For years he has worked on his YouTube Channel, creating content and uploading videos. Imagine his shock and heartbreak when he discovered one day that everything on his channel had been deleted, and that all those hours of hard work had been reduced to nothing. Even more upsetting was the eventual revelation that the videos had been deleted by a classmate, one that Thomas had considered a friend.

When Thomas was younger he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Children on the Autism Spectrum are unfortunately often a target of bullying, and Thomas has experienced that firsthand on multiple occasions. Usually Thomas just ignores the negative treatment and tries to believe the best in people. He never dreamed that a friend would be so cruel as to deliberately erase all of his hard work. It eventually came to light that this child had been periodically bullying Thomas all year, but Thomas still tried to forgive and befriend him.

The moment Thomas told his parents about the deleted account they sprung into action. At first the deleted YouTube content seemed unrecoverable, so his father posted about it on LinkedIn:   “Please help if anyone has any contacts at YouTube who might be able to help me get a restore of their backups. On 6/1 my 13yo son’s YouTube account was accessed by a bully at school, and all (~70) videos were deleted. Thomas has Asperger’s, and computer animation is his one area of passion. He spends many hours and days working on each one, and this collection took him about 3 years to create. Several of his videos have 100’s of k views, and one is significantly over 1M views. He is pretty devastated that this is all now completely gone. Already he is losing subscribers (~400 lost so far) as they realize that he has no videos. Thanks in advance for any advice or introductions. Please let me know if you need any more info.  His channel is dragonman9001.”

That post then caught the eye of some employees at Google who offered to help. Eventually the YouTube channel had all of its content, views, and likes fully restored, and Thomas was overjoyed.

That wasn’t the only surprise in store for Thomas. Not only did the employees at Google go above and beyond to restore Thomas’ account, but one took the extra time to send Thomas a special message and package. Here’s what the letter from the Google said:

Thomas,

 I’m so happy we were able to get your videos back. The teams here at Google can tell  you put a lot of time and effort into each and every video. Always follow your passions and keep up the great work, whether that be in video editing, computer animation, or anything else you choose to pursue. 

Fair winds and following seas,                                                                                                                                                              Alex

tHOMAS

What an incredible letter!

Thomas’ mother wrote on Facebook about their experience:

“Always follow your passions and keep up the great work…”

We had an unfortunate thing happen the last week of Thomas’ school. One of his classmates came up to him and said “Thomas, did you notice that all of your youtube videos have been *deleted*?” With that, Thomas checked and sure enough all the work on his animations that he had been doing for the past 6 years of his life, taking the time to learn new software, saving up for purchasing new animations softwares which he tediously learned, literally 100s if not 1000s of man hours to create his passion…all GONE. He had 1000s of followers, millions of page views on some of his videos. For a quirky guy with not a ton of irl friends, this meant everything to him. But where the heck did all of the videos go? Why did they just disappear?

So we contacted youtube and they confirmed that the vids had indeed been deleted. After speaking with several contacts there, we were told that the videos were likely unrecoverable. How could something like this happen? It was horrible as a parent to sit back and wonder and to see Thomas in such disbelief.

I talked to him more about what he thought could have happened. And long story short, things were starting to point back to the classmate at school. It was almost too hard to fathom that another child would do this to him, but we started looking into it. The boy had shown some signs of bullying earlier in the school year. Thomas had one day in the Fall gotten in the car red-faced and teary eyed. I asked what in the world happened, and he said that this kid had pinned him in the stairwell as Thomas was going up the steps with his heavy backpack. Thomas hates heights, so this really freaked him out. He simply could not imagine why this boy would pick on him. After days of deliberating, he finally decided to go talk to one of his trusted teachers at school. The 3 met and discussed what had happened and things seemed to settle down. I never heard any more about this boy, except that he was being a “pain.” Well, long story long, After the vids disappeared he admitted that the kid had been bullying him relentlessly all year – stealing his specials pencils and pencil case, stepping on his feet as he was trying to stand up from his chair. It was heart-breaking to hear. I was so sad that he felt that he could not share this with anyone. Thomas is the kindest, sweetest, most mild-mannered boy you can ever imagine. His motto like my Dad’s is “live and let live.” He’s a lover, and doesn’t judge others. He’s an amazing kid.

I was out of town now for rowing camp, but I asked if Tom would look into things from an IT perspective. Tom was able to track Thomas’ last login to his school so this was enough evidence to go speak to the admin. Tom met with the school and they handled things immediately, using their IT guy to confirm the computer, etc. The boy was pulled out of class and asked point blank if he did and he admitted that he did!

On the same front, Tom reached out to his IT world. He posted the request for help on LinkedIn and it was shared, liked, viewed, commented on over 26,000 times! Quickly several people at Google offered their help and worked with Tom to restore the videos, the page views, likes, subscribers, all. It was amazing!!

Anyway the reason, I decided to post this was because of this…. Last week Thomas received a package in the mail. It was from an anonymous person who works at Google. The package included a cool Google back back and this hand-written note. It meant the WORLD to Thomas. The writer told Thomas NEVER to give up his dreams not matter what, and to keep doing all the great things he’s doing with his great attitude.  <3. “Always follow your passions and keep up the great work…” I told Thomas that hopefully he can one day pass this on to someone like himself. He said he would. 🙂

How wonderful that Thomas’ account was restored, and what an amazing response from the LinkedIn community and the employees at Google! This story proves that there are kind and generous people out there, and we can make the world a better place when we support one another.

Thomas’ mother also expressed that they wish only the best for the other child’s family, saying, “It was a tough incident, but we’re incredibly grateful it turned out okay. Thomas has even forgiven the other boy in his heart and has tried to understand the unexplainable.”

Thank you, Thomas, for letting us share your story. And thank you to Google and to Alex, wherever you are.

Thomas’ YouTube channel is called dragonman9001. Please go check out his videos and show him your support!

This post was created and shared with Thomas’ permission.

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