Leona Lewis at GQ Men of the Year 2011

YouTube has sensationally wiped billions off the face of video views in a move aimed at bringing the popular video sharing site’s reputation into line, the Daily Dot reports.

Hardest hit in the clean-up was the music industry, and in particular Universal Music which saw more than a billion views wiped off its videos.

It has been revealed that global record labels allegedly hired armies of hackers to substantially increase the view counts of videos by major artists on their books such as Universal and SONY, the latter of which is responsible for acts like Rita Ora and Labrinth. SONY lost more than 850 million views in one day.

Leona Lewis’ YouTube channel lost 24 million views. Twenty-four million!

The massive clean-up has effectively meant that all of Universal’s music videos have been removed from YouTube and SONY have only been left with three.

As record labels tried to make excuses for the sharp drop in their videos’ view counts, YouTube hit back saying

This was not a bug or security breach. This was an enforcement of our viewcount policy.

This is a major embarrassment to music artists around the world, especially US artists, such as Nicki Minaj on Universal, who base their egos on how many YouTube views their videos or channels have.

Many artists nowadays hype their popularity based purely on how many YouTube video views they have, even though they may not have sold any records.

At the same time, many YouTube channel owners rely on these view counts to determine their YouTube revenues, which for some, is their livelihood.

Krept-n-Konan

People have been complaining for years about fake views on YouTube and it has constantly been denied by artists and labels. Krept & Konan have been famously accused of buying fake views for their videos, as have others, but it has been widely regarded that these were just rumours fuelled by people trying to sabotage their success.

It remains to be seen how this will affect artists in general, but more importantly there are concerns about the way this will affect the relationship between YouTube and the music industry as a whole, a relationship which has never been rosy.

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