YouTuber Jonathan Saccone Joly, who began his estimated €1.8m vlogging career by filming his family’s daily life in Cork, has deleted every video from his channel in a shock move which he says is for the benefit of his four children.
Dublin-born Jonathan, 42, began documenting his life with now-wife Anna over 12 years ago on YouTube, racking up 1.73 million subscribers and social media stardom since.
The couple welcomed their first child in 2012, moving to the UK a short time later where they had three more children. They recent announced that their second-eldest child is transgender.
Through YouTube vlogs and multiple videos on Instagram and TikTok, Jonathan, who recently revealed he is non-binary, documented seven-year-old Edie’s transition from a boy to a girl.
Despite having gained the title of Europe’s most successful family vlogging channel, Jonathan has deleted the Saccone Jolys’ entire back catalogue of videos so his children can “curate their own life story on the internet”.
The move comes as the family faces heavy scrutiny in recent weeks from social media users.
Older vlog footage, as well as clips from a TV documentary featuring the family, have arisen and been challenged by TikTok content creators in particular.
Addressing his decision in a TikTok video posted in recent days, Jonathan said: “Just because everyone tells you that at one point, it is right, doesn’t necessarily mean that that will always be right.
“If you’re a parent and you have children, you know how socially aware your children are and that’s when I started thinking, maybe it’s time to not only stop doing it but also to sort of erase it.
“I love my children more than I love my YouTube videos, I just want to give them an opportunity to curate their own life story on the internet.”
In the video he outlines his motivation for starting the hugely successful channel, stating that “at the time, nobody else was really doing what we were doing”.
“It felt like we were doing the right thing because everything around us kept telling us ‘keep going’,” he continued.
He stated that he developed “a lot of mental health problems” during the 12 years of vlogging due to the “huge pressure of having to keep going”.
He explained that the onset of the pandemic meant their agency and management “went away”, as well as their staff.
This led to his decision to write his memoir, adding that if given the choice he “wouldn’t do YouTube today the same way I did YouTube when I did YouTube”.
The YouTube star hasn’t deleted content featuring his children on his TikTok or Instagram channels, where he has 2.2 million and 1.1 million followers respectively.
Speaking in a video about the “drama” surrounding his content in recent weeks, he said the decision to delete his videos isn’t because of backlash on social media.
He said he was “really sad” when deleting the videos, but that it was something he’d planned for a while.
He added that he explained to his children that he deleted the videos because they didn’t consent to being filmed when they were younger.
“Some of my kids are old enough to be able to not consent to being on the internet,” he said.
“They’re also old enough to tell me they want to do it.”
Speaking about Edie, he said “people are twisting it and saying it’s me forcing her… it’s not the truth”.
“She can be a he, a they, a them, I don’t care. Anyone can be anything they wanna be, I’m not trying to make other people trans – I’m just trying to make my child happy,” he said.
He added that Edie would come home from school crying after being bullied, mentioning how he has “lifetime trauma to deal with” following his own identity issues as a child.
“Maybe I over-celebrated her, I apologise if that has offended you but my child is so happy.”
He addressed recent TV clips which have resurfaced on the video sharing app in recent weeks.
“It’s TV man, they stitch us up a little bit,” he said of the the Stacey Dooley documentary which aired 2019.
In the show, Stacey asks the two eldest children if they like being filmed, to which the eldest, Emilia, says no.
She also quizzes the father of three on his content possibly exposing his children to predators online.
Mr Joly also defended his use of CCTV around his home , saying “there were so much invasions of privacy” in the past.