Concerns for British fashion vlogger Marina Joyce continue online but her power over her audience is truly frightening
A YouTube fashion vlogger is causing quite a stir online after she released a video that her fans claim contained a hidden plea for help.
The strange events that followed and the campaign to 'save' her raises concerns about how much influence YouTubers and bloggers have over their audience.
Marina Joyce, a YouTube star from the UK, has a large following on social media and over 700,000 subscribers on YouTube. Believing she may have been being held captive against her will, Joyce's followers started a rampant hashtag campaign on Twitter last night to try and raise awareness.
Some followers even went as far as contacting her local police station in Enfield.
What caused the furore? Joyce asked her followers to meet her in London's Bethnal Green after she seemed to show erratic, unusual behaviour online and displayed what fans believed to be signs of distress.
The star then allegedly posted a video that was blacked out but saw the blogger telling her fans to avoid the meetup, that she was being held against her will, and that the captors were dangerous.
Fans also claim that other videos on her YouTube channel show her trying to signal for help and there are visible bruises on her body.
Despite the police tweeting that they had visited the star's home and confirmed everything was okay, Joyce's fans became increasingly worried as the morning went on and nothing had been posted by Joyce herself.
A number of the YouTuber's fans even made their way to Bethnal Green for 6:30am, ignoring warnings from other high profile YouTubers, like Alfie Deyes, pleading with people to stay at home.
As expected, Joyce was nowhere to be seen in Bethnal Green and is in no immediate danger. She has since posted to her social accounts to let fans know she is okay.
#savemarinajoyce— Marina Rose Joyce (@MarinaJoyce7) July 27, 2016
Im TOTALLY fine guys, i am feeling very good today and its actually so heartwarming to see so many people care about me
This strange series of events raises huge concerns about the influence YouTube stars can have on their audience.
Joyce has over 700'000 subscribers but this is actually a very small amount compared to some of the most popular 'vloggers' on YouTube who have millions of subscribers.
It raises the question: if a vlogger with just a fraction of that amount can cause this much of a stir, what would happen if it were a bigger YouTuber?
As demonstrated this morning by Joyce's followers, they were willing to put themselves in potential danger in order to help her. This gesture could be viewed as either selfless or stupid but either way, it's irresponsible for the YouTuber to have allowed the pandemonium continue.
YouTuber and blogger meetups aren't an uncommon occurrence. Higher profile bloggers would often have security and the events may be ticketed but in the case of smaller bloggers, they are sometimes more ad hoc and in public places.
In this instance, should the YouTuber have been in real danger, she was inviting her followers to face the same risks.
Where does the responsibility lie when it comes to policing these impromptu meetings?
A large majority of the biggest YouTube stars have a very young teenage following who are eager to get a glimpse of their favourite vlogger in real life, and may be unaware of the potential danger they could be putting themselves in.
Hopefully, this incident will raise awareness of the potential risks and enable YouTubers and their fans to be more responsible when engaging in meetups in the future.