Emma Chamberlain‘s online shop has temporarily closed after a fan claimed the website was selling a DM from the YouTuber for $10,000.
On March 18th, Twitter user @itslaylas shared a screenshot reportedly taken from Emma’s store for a “personal thank you note from Emma in Instagram DM” listed for $10,000 or $902.58 a month with ShopPay installments.
“why is emma chamberlain charging 10K for an instagram DM this is wild,” Layla wrote.
Though celebrities and influencers charging for personal messages or videos is not a new phenomenon, Layla’s post quickly racked up millions of views and thousands of responses from fans outraged by this steep price.
Other fans came to Emma’s defense, claiming her team likely “made her” offer this service and she listed it as overly expensive so that no one would actually buy it.
Following the backlash, Emma’s store was temporarily disabled. Cozack, Inc., the team behind Emma’s merch, has since issued a statement calling claims that Emma was selling DMs for $10,000 “false and inaccurate”. Rather, they say the listing was created for testing purposes in 2018 without the YouTuber’s knowledge.
“These reward ideas were never run by Emma since they were not meant to be available for sale or reward, but simply intended for internal testing purposes. What we suspect is that data was activated and crawled by Google’s SEO indexing system and discovered by an individual who then began spreading false information to press outlets,” they wrote, presumably referencing Layla’s screenshot and tweet.
Layla spoke with Buzzfeed about her discovery earlier this week. She told the outlet that she simply Googled Emma’s podcast and stumbled upon the listing. She said initially assumed the price was a typo.
“The test program was never discoverable on the main page or product listing site, which is another reason that Emma had no knowledge of this,” Cozack’s statement continued. “With the internet’s tendency to create false narratives around sensationalized stories we wanted to provide you with the truth firsthand and from the source. The site is currently down for internal review.”
On March 21st, Layla added the statement to her Twitter thread.
Layla said she tweeted the screenshot because she was curious about the price and thought it was a typo.
“The link was accessible on multiple sites including reddit so anyone could have tweeted it,” she explained.
In light of Cozack’s statement, user @gaboureycinabon came to Layla’s defense.
“‘Tendency to create false narratives’ like we didn’t just react to what was public information,” they tweeted in reference to how Layla discovered the listing.
Layla replied, “they made me sound like some dark web hacker when I am literally a random grad student like it’s not that deep”.
Just three days after Layla posted about the DM, Emma addressed the claims in a brief statement to E! News.
“A few days I started seeing comments asking why I was selling a DM for $10k. I assumed this was an online scam, as I had never offered to sell a DM for any amount of money, let alone $10k,” she begins.
The content creator explained that she initially thought her site had been hacked. But after seeing nothing “out of the ordinary,” she escalated the concern with Cozack.
“I immediately got in touch with my merch company Cozack who further investigated and put the site under construction while looking into the issue,” Emma says.
There is currently no further information on when her online store will return.