If there’s a single person that’s been absolutely monumental in the Tesla right-to-repair community, it’s
Elon Musk Rich Benoit, though you might know him better by his YouTube channel name, Rich Rebuilds. Recently, Benoit uploaded a video announcing that he was selling his latest Tesla project in favor of buying something powered by gasoline, but to his surprise, YouTube notified him that his video was taken down within hours of posting it on Twitter. Did he violate the platform’s terms of service? Did YouTube mistakenly remove his video? According to Benoit, he suspects something a bit more sinister than that: fanboys.
In Benoit’s video, titled “Why I’m selling my Tesla and going back to Gas,” he rebuilds a 2013 Tesla Model S P85 from start to finish while narrating the reasons why he’s switching to internal combustion. But soon after uploading it, the link went dark—Rich had angered the hive.
Benoit believes that “Tesla fanboys” ganged up on his video to force the removal. In an email to Vice, he pointed out a disproportionate number of dislikes on his video within 15 minutes of uploading it. Given that his following of more than 735,000 subscribers is heavily tipped towards EV lovers, he believes that die-hard fans were upset with the video’s content and flagged the video.
“People clearly did not like the content even though there was no cursing,” Benoit told Motherboard. “I’ve been on YouTube for several years now and I’ve never had a video pulled, so having a video pulled within five hours after announcing that I’ll be replacing my Tesla with a gas-powered vehicle doesn’t seem like a coincidence.”
After tweeting a photo of the takedown, Benoit immediately received support from Tesla owners who denounced the actions. Others asked for proof that it was indeed Tesla owners who flagged the video.
Behind the scene, Rich was working to get his video back up. By the following day, YouTube ruled that the video was taken down in error and reinstated it; however, the video was taken down again just 40 minutes later.
To make things worse, several days later Benoit received a notice from Tesla that his referral code (which Benoit was planning to use for a discount on a next-generation Tesla Roadster) was permanently terminated for violating the program’s “good faith” policy.
Several tweets from the pro-EV YouTuber suggest that this process began quite some time before his video was flagged, though the timing and impact of the ban couldn’t have been more untimely, especially as his Twitter threads began filling with comments about how the video made people feel like they wasted their referrals.
Benoit’s love for cars and the future of electrified propulsion came together in 2016 when he uploaded his first video to YouTube—the start of a series of Tesla rebuild videos that would make him the face of aftermarket Tesla repair. So don’t think for a minute that a flagged video or terminated referral account is going to keep Rich out of the rebuild game.
“I own Teslas and always will. My wife owns a Tesla Model X. My daughter drives a Model S. My kids under 9 drive mini power wheels Teslas. I also have another Model X and a Model S personally,” he explained.
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