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“Cyberbullies aren't worth the time and energy”

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YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are booming – especially with kids and teens. These social media platforms offer tons of fun videos, including music and so-called “let’s play” videos as well as educational tutorials – and thus satisfy the need for distraction and entertainment – especially now during the coronavirus crisis. But how should you react if there is negative feedback to your posts or your TikTok account gets hacked?

Greneey has had a YouTube channel for over twelve years. In an interview, the 25-year-old from Winterthur tells us how he ended up in this profession, what about it fascinates him – and gives tips on how you can protect yourself against cyber risks.

You are a professional online gamer and YouTuber. How did that come about?

I started my YouTube channel in 2008. Originally, with the idea of uploading videos about games. At the time, I was still in school and had just finished my secondary schooling and started an apprenticeship in computer science. After running my YouTube channel as a hobby for ten years, I wanted more: To turn my hobby into a career. To achieve this goal, I went to film school and took the leap to becoming a professional – to making videos professionally.

How often do you post content as a career YouTuber?

I upload one to two short videos to YouTube per week. They include tips and tricks for creating online content. Livestreams in which I can directly interact with my viewers are more irregular. But I try to stream once or twice a week. The topics of my livestreams vary, for example, I can game with my community or edit photos with them.  

The career aspiration of becoming a YouTuber or Influencer appears to be growing in popularity – what do you think about that? 

Online platforms have gained an enormous amount of attention among the wider public in the past few years. Companies are taking advantage of this trend and shifting their advertising to social media. If companies want to advertise more on platforms like YouTube or Instagram, then they have to have more people who use their channels.  

Showing yourself on the Internet also has downsides. Have you had any negative experience? 

Unfortunately, mean comments are part and parcel of the Internet. Every once in a while, I get negative comments about my appearance. But it doesn’t bother me because I know that not everyone is going to like my green hair. My advice: Delete and ignore such comments. And maybe talk to a friend about them. Cyberbullies aren't worth the time and energy.

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What is the biggest risk with gaming?

Nowadays, many games sell in-game items. These can include special weapons, stickers, or other digital goods. Here, there is the risk of spending more money than you intended or falling victim to credit card fraud. As a precaution, I use a one-time credit card. I can load money to the card, which is then unusable after making a purchase. In this way, I protect myself against excessive consumption as well as against the risk of credit card fraud. 

Unfortunately, you don’t recognize hacker attacks like how they are shown in movies: A black screen and a talking skull. They are subtler and are often only noticed after the fact.

Greneey, YouTuber

How can I notice a hacker attack?

Unfortunately, you don’t recognize hacker attacks like how they are shown in movies: A black screen and a talking skull (laughs). They are subtler and are often only noticed after the fact. Irregularities in your credit card statement are signs of a hacker attack. That’s why I recommend thoroughly looking through your credit card statement. If there are bookings that you haven’t made, notify the bank immediately. The bank can block the card and launch an investigation.

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Do you have any other tips on prevention?

The most important rules are as follows: Be careful what you disclose about yourself and use strong passwords. Under no circumstances should you use the same password for everything or one that is easy to guess – or that is very personal, for example your first name. I have also have a “zero-knowledge policy.” I use a password manager: It knows my passwords, I do not. Another tip: Use a sentence or several words strung together as a password. Mix special characters between the words and replace letters with figures. So "My morning begins with coffee" becomes: My!morn1n9*b391ns!w1th*coff33".

Do you have any closing tips for young YouTubers?

I would like to tell everyone one thing: Give it a try. But be careful what information you want to share with the public. It is a cool world and, even after twelve years, I’m still having a lot of fun.  

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