ST. CHARLES COUNTY, Mo. — A famous YouTuber who once pulled in millions of subscribers had his account removed by YouTube as part of a mass cleansing of exploitative content on the video-sharing website.
Greg Chism, a resident of St. Charles County, ran the "Toy Freaks" YouTube channel with his two daughters. At its peak, Toy Freaks had 8 million subscribers and was ranked as the 68th most popular account on YouTube. The channel, which was directed towards young children, often portrayed the 46-year-old and his daughters portrayed as babies with pacifiers and other toddler-like accessories.
According to BuzzFeed News, one of the videos Chism posted including his youngest daughter "peeing" on her older sister.
Wednesday, the Times of London reported both Missouri and Illinois child protective services received reports of "potential abuse concerning videos uploaded" by Chism. However, the news outlet said an anonymous source, a man from Illinois, wished to give an official statement to officials.
Chism is affiliated with Freak Media LLC, a self-described publicity agency founded by Chris Estey of Seattle. The company has an address registered in Granite City, Ill. According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, Freak Media LLC filed two trademarks for Toy Freaks between 2016 and 2017, and an additional trademark entitled 'Baby Toys and Candy Freaks' in October. All three trademarks were listed as active.
BuzzFeed News reported the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services were in contact with "the Missouri Department of Children and Families hotline about the concerns raised in these inquiries."
Madison County State Attorney Tom Gibbons told 5 On Your Side the investigation began as a possible missing children report. Officials later determined the children in question were not missing or abducted, although members of Gibbons staff worked in cooperation with the Granite City Police Department in reviewing video evidence in Chism's videos.
Gibbons added the videos which raised concern for the missing children did not match the house in Granite City. There was no further clarification for which missing persons case this was in connection with. The NCMEC also worked alongside both offices.
Chism previously resided in Granite City.
5 On Your Side has not yet heard back from the Granite City Police Department regarding the matter.
Monday, YouTube reported they had deleted over 150,000 videos containing content that could be classified as "masquerading as family-friendly."
"We have always had strict policies against child endangerment, and we partner closely with regional authorities and experts to help us enforce these policies and report to law enforcement through [National Center for Missing and Exploited Children]," YouTube said in a blog post.
Several viewers and bloggers expressed dismay over the content Toy Freaks, as well as similar accounts, seemed to share on an ongoing basis.
James Bridle, a blogger on Medium, expanded on the notion last month. In his post entitled 'Something is wrong on the internet,' he described the in-depth, growing problem of graphic, surreal videos directed to children. While Bridle said Toy Freaks was mild compared to some of the other accounts in question, he noted the channel's usage of gross-out humor, as well as questionable acts of abuse or exploitation, continued the problem YouTube sought to remove.
Chism currently resides in St. Charles County.
This story will be updated as more information becomes available.