Words: Lydia Ellery
My name is Lydia Ellery, and around 11 years ago I made my first YouTube video under the name "Squid Game".
"Squid" was a silly nickname from school, and it was the first idea for a channel name that came into my head. I made videos reviewing my favourite games, and eventually would manage to turn that hobby into a career. I am now a member of the Yogscast, and a full-time streamer. At the same time I made my YouTube I also started an Instagram account under the same name, and eventually my Twitch channel, too.
And if that name sounds familiar right now, it's probably because you've heard of, or even watched, the show Squid Game, which has become a huge hit for Netflix - it's reached number one on the streaming platform in 90 countries (a video game is now in the works, too). I was first alerted to the Netflix show by a friend, and didn't really think much of it other than it being a funny coincidence. I had no idea the show was going to blow up to be a global sensation, and would lead to some of its fans actually harassing me online.
At the beginning of Squid Games' popularity, I'd get only a few messages from people confusing me for the show. But then I started getting tagged so much by people that I had to turn notifications off, and that's still relentless. My pictures also started getting filled with comments such as "give me your username", and "why the hell is this squid game???".
This then moved onto abusive private messages from fans thinking the show, or a fan of the show, deserved the name "Squid Game" more than I did. To them it's completely unfair that I have the handle, and I assume they don't realise I've had it for as long as I have. I made sure to have two-factor authentication active, as I was also seeing so many attempts of people trying to hack my account.
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Eventually my account was reported so much by these people to Instagram for "impersonation of someone else" that Instagram actually banned my account altogether. When this happened I was really upset and frustrated - I had worked so hard and for so many years to build my brand up, and at 30,000 followers on Instagram I was really proud of what I'd achieved. To have Instagram take that away with no warning was worrying. I also heard from lots of people about how they'd been banned from Instagram and never got their account back, or how Instagram had taken people's usernames off of them in favour of giving them to famous people with no warning.
Ermm I think so many people have been trying to log into my account or reporting it (squidgame) that instagram have banned me. Very not cool.- Lydia (@SquidGaming) October 8, 2021
The story made the top of Reddit, was reported on by different sites and YouTube videos, and got enough attention on Twitter that eventually my account was given back to me. However, it's only been a day and I'm already getting messages calling for me to change my name, or offers to buy my account off of me. I've even had an account with just shy of a million followers offering to buy my account for a couple of hundred pounds - which I declined.
I won't deny that it's been good exposure, in a way. I stream on Twitch full time, and having the same name as the show has definitely helped with traffic as people click on the name curious to see if it belongs to the show.
However, in terms of SEO and branding, it's safe to say that my name will be forever eclipsed by the show. It used to be that I was the first result when searching for "squid game", whereas now I'm completely lost under countless articles about the show.
I also have to use social media for my job, and now it's impossible to find messages that are genuinely meant for me on my Instagram as they got lost in messages from the show's fans. I've also received abuse on Twitter from people assuming that I've only just made the account to try to get attention.
I know they say "any publicity is good publicity", so I'm definitely looking on the bright side of this situation. But I can't deny that this has been a weird and frustrating experience.
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