One of the most viewed creators on YouTube is being sued by her husband and former collaborator, and his lawsuit filing may have confirmed widespread suspicions that she fakes all of her content.
SSSniperwolf, whose legal name is Alia Shelesh, has over 34 million subscribers since she joined the platform in 2013. Her bread and butter is reaction content, wherein she watches other viral videos and TikToks and reacts to them in real time on camera.
Reaction videos have caused a rift within the creator community recently over whether they should be classified as stolen content. Shelesh is at the forefront of this debate since she runs one of the biggest reaction channels on YouTube.
In July, YouTuber Jack Douglass, professionally known as Jacksfilms, posted an 11-minute video accusing Shelesh of freebooting. Freebooting is a form of piracy where someone re-uploads a video they didn’t make and don’t have the rights to.
Douglass alleged that Shelesh, or someone on Shelesh’s team, made a majority of her estimated $16 million net worth by downloading viral TikToks and editing them into her videos without giving proper credit. Therefore, she’s getting all of this revenue, but the original creators aren’t.
“Her commentary isn’t so much transformative as it is just summarizing what we’re watching,” Douglass says in his video. “It’s not even content, it’s ‘nontent.’”
In some of the back-and-forth between Shelesh and Douglass on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, in response to his video, Shelesh defended her content and said, “90% of what I upload are my ideas, people copy me and then people like you get confused.”
“wahhh I can’t stand that a female YouTuber is getting more views than me even tho I make the same content grrrr life is hard!!!!” she posted about Douglass. “Also I hate bringing gender into this but no one ever attacks the male react channels????”
In August, H3 Podcast host Ethan Klein called Twitch streamer xQc “a content thief” over his reaction videos and even invited xQc onto his podcast to debate the topic. Viewers have also called out Hasan Piker for the same thing.
Shelesh’s husband, another content creator named Evan Young, professionally known as Sausage, claims in the lawsuit that he was her collaborator when it came to making content for the popular channel. While the two are still legally married, the lawsuit says they officially broke up for good in September 2022. (Shelesh also confirmed the breakup in an X post in July.)
According to court documents, Shelesh is facing seven counts: Breach of Fiduciary Duty, Breach of Contract, Breach of the Implied Covenant of Good Faith Fair Dealing, Tortious Interference With Contractural Relations and Business Expectancy, Conversion, Accounting and Appointment of Receiver.
In the lawsuit, Young claimed that he had been curating and scripting Shelesh’s content for years. He referred to the SSSniperwolf channel as a “joint venture” and claimed when they created the YouTube account, they used a combination of personal information between the two of them.
“While Shelesh was the ‘face’ of the ‘SSSniperwolf’ YouTube channel, Young is and was at all times heavily involved in the creative content and operations,” court documents read, “including but not limited to concept origination and development, script writing, directing, video editing, posting finished videos to the channel and market research and analysis, among other things.”
A couple of YouTubers have recapped the lawsuit, including creator Atozy who posts “talk-show-style” videos about internet culture events. In a Sept. 21 video, he claimed the lawsuit “confirmed” the YouTube community’s “speculations” about Shelesh, going back almost a decade.
At the time, Shelesh’s old YouTube channel, called SexySexySniper, was dedicated to videos of her playing video games — except some viewers thought she was faking it.
“[It] was a big deal back in the heyday of the Call of Duty community, because a large contributor to her early rise was, ‘Oh, woman played video game really well. Very nice! Subscribe,'” Atozy explains. “And to pretty much no one’s surprise, she denied it.”
According to the recent lawsuit, Young is alleging that “the gameplay footage … was played and recorded by Young while Shelesh merely read and reacted to the gameplay.”
With how involved Young says he was with building and sustaining the SSSniperwolf brand, what he is fighting for with the lawsuit is money. He claimed he and Shelesh entered an agreement in 2013 to evenly split ad revenue from their channels and continued to do so until September 2022, when they broke up.
“Following the termination of the romantic relationship, Shelesh began actively taking steps to lock Young out of their business relationship,” the lawsuit alleges. It goes on to also accuse Shelesh and brand manager Kevin Gold of entering other business relationships and building other YouTube channels and not disclosing them to Young.
“She’s going to have to respond to this at some point,” Atozy says, after reviewing the charges. “Divorces by themselves are ugly enough, so I can only imagine when you also have a company together.”
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