YouTube sets the record straight: “Me at the Zoo” is still the oldest YouTube video.
“Me at the zoo,” uploaded on April 23, 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 in the world. But earlier on Thursday, a video began circulating that somehow had an even earlier upload date: April 5, 2005.
Entitled “Welcome to YouTube!!!”, the 48-second video definitely looks like something that could have been used to test out a mid-century video website. The video has only one image: a low-resolution image with a YouTube logo that says “Welcome to YouTube!!!!” which is credited to Chad, Steve and Jawed, a likely reference to co-founders Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim. The video is supported by Van Halen’s iconic song ‘Jump’.
But if you watch the (now unlisted) video on YouTube’s website, you will probably see some suspicious red flags. You may see a “Live chat is turned off for this premiere” message below the video. Premieres let people pre-schedule videos to play at a specific time with features like live chat, and they definitely weren’t a thing on YouTube in 2005. You could also see that the video was uploaded by a mysterious account called enn who joined YouTube in September 2005which is months after this supposed earliest video was posted to the site. The account claims that the login date was “reset during a database update”.
As I was writing this article, the description said the video “premiered” on April 5; for a video this old, there normally wouldn’t be a “premiere” descriptor before the date. (The description also references a Discord server filled with sketchy-looking links and messages containing derogatory insults, which I strongly advise against visiting.) But shortly before publication, the video premiered again 23 hours ago.
In a statement to The edge, YouTube spokesperson Kimberly Taylor said that “We are aware of an issue that caused the upload date of this video to change, and we 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 kickstarted over 17 years of creativity on YouTube.”
We’ve tried contacting the uploader on Discord for comment, but they don’t accept friend requests or DMs from people who aren’t their friend yet.