YouTube is setting the record straight: “Me at the zoo” is still the oldest YouTube video.
“Me at the zoo,” uploaded on April 23rd, 2005 and featuring YouTube co-founder Jawed Karim standing in front of elephants at the San Diego Zoo, is an important piece of internet history, as it marks the oldest video on one of the most influential video services on the planet. But earlier on Thursday, a video started circulating that, somehow, had an even earlier upload date: April 5th, 2005.
Titled “Welcome to YouTube!!!”, the 48-second video definitely looks like something that could have been used to test out a mid-aughts video website. The video has just one image: a low-res graphic with a YouTube logo with the text “Welcome to YouTube!!!!” that’s attributed to Chad, Steve, and Jawed, a likely reference to co-founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim. The video is backed by Van Halen’s iconic song “Jump.”
But if you watch the (now unlisted) video on YouTube’s website, you’ll probably spot some suspicious red flags. You might notice, for example, the “Live chat is disabled for this Premiere” notice under the video. Premieres let people pre-schedule videos to play at a certain time with features like live chat, and they definitely were not a thing on 2005 YouTube. You might also spot that the video was uploaded by a mysterious account named enn who joined YouTube in September 2005, which is months after this supposed earliest video was posted to the site. The account claims that the join date was “reset during a database update.”
While I was writing this article, the description said that the video “premiered” on April 5th; for a video this old, there typically wouldn’t be a “premiered” descriptor ahead of the date. (The description also points to a Discord server that’s filled with sketchy-seeming links and posts with derogatory slurs, and I strongly recommend against visiting it.) But shortly before publishing, the video reverted to premiering 23 hours ago.
In a statement to The Verge, YouTube spokesperson Kimberly Taylor said that “we’re aware of an issue that allowed the upload date of this video to be changed, and are working on a fix. Rest assured, the oldest video on YouTube will always be ‘Me at the zoo’ which was uploaded on April 23, 2005 by one of our co-founders and helped kickstart more than 17 years of creativity on YouTube.”
We tried contacting the uploader on Discord for comment, but they aren’t accepting friend requests or DMs from people who aren’t already their friend.