YouTube Conspiracy Videos Rake in Big Bucks; Plus: Brien Foerster Plans Colorado Seminar on Lost Civilizations and Elongated Skulls
It’s been a bit of a slow week, and I must confess that I have rather little to talk about today. One thing that is worth mentioning, though, is an article in the forthcoming issue of Newsweek in which the magazine analyzes the potential risk that fringe history and conspiracy theory videos pose to YouTube. The Alphabet company site is overflowing with conspiracy videos, and Newsweek attributes this less to public belief in conspiracies than to the economic incentives YouTube created to produce conspiracy videos in a desperate bid to garner eyeballs and thus ad dollars with the most extreme content, using the example of a video by Shane Dawson suggesting that space aliens were responsible for the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner a few years ago:
…the site incentivizes content creators to wander close to the extreme-views edge because they entice users to click. That video by Dawson about the disappeared plane garnered 8 million views, likely earning him—and Alphabet—thousands of dollars. AlgoTransparency, a website that tracks what videos YouTube recommends to visitors, notes that searching for the phrases “Is the Earth flat or round?” or “vaccine facts” in February led to videos claiming to show proof the Earth is flat or evidence that vaccines cause autism, respectively, about eight times more often than videos without a conspiracy bent on these subjects. When Veleski began producing conspiracy-type videos, he received more views—and more money—for them than for those focused on alternative medicine and health topics.
And we’re not talking chump change, either. One Australian conspiracy theorist earns $5,400 per month spouting conspiracy theories, while another earns $7,500 per month with fake conspiracy videos—though it’s not clear how many of his viewers understand that they are jokes.
YouTube is a cesspool. Every time I go there, even after signing out and clearing my browser, anything I look for quickly descends into bizarre and frequently racist conspiracy theories. It’s even worse than the History Channel for any historical topic, since History is confined by standards and practices, while YouTube videos are limited only by the site’s patchwork of prohibitions on illegal or grossly unethical conduct. And what is worse is that many in the audience can’t distinguish between a conspiracy theorist’s YouTube video and a professionally produced documentary.
Newsweek also reported that Alphabet, the parent of Google as well as YouTube, understands that they might lose viewers and thus revenue if they can’t control the amount of fake material on YouTube. “Our brands may also be negatively affected by the use of our products or services to disseminate information that is deemed to be misleading,” according to the company’s 2017 annual report. As a result, YouTube is taking steps to limit the impact of conspiracy theory videos. This is why, incidentally, conspiracy theorists like David Wilcock and L. A. Marzulli are so angry about YouTube’s policy changes. They’ve geared their entire business model to producing outrageous claims that can be monetized through advertising and delivered to viewers through high ranking search results.
The other thing I want to mention ties in since Brien Foerster is a YouTube personality himself and uses the site to promote his paranormal tours of Peru. Foerster is busy setting up an “All Day Ancient Civilizations Seminar” in Boulder, Colo., for June 9, at a price of $55 per ticket, and just take a look at the topics, as given on his website, with the originally syntax and grammar intact:
The Inca and Pharaohs did not create megalithic works such as the Great Pyramid.
We’ve seen that the Egyptians left a text recording the efforts made under Khufu to build the Great Pyramid. The Spanish watched native Peruvians hauling megalithic blocks—though Foerster is, on a technicality, right that the “Inca” didn’t claim to have built many of the sites, since some had been built by pre-Inca Andean cultures. Akhenaten’s skull—or one believed to belong to him--exists and is seemingly not artificially elongated but the apparent result of a genetic condition. We could go on, but the point is clear: Foerster sells mysteries without much regard for the truth, nor is he much interested in keeping up with his supposed field of expertise.
4/20/2018 09:34:25 am
I’ve always felt that those of us who live in the real world understood that the conspiracy nuts were simply manipulating the system so that they could use it to line their pockets, and the websites that carry this disinformation to the readers/viewers simply want those ad dollars. No big surprise there. But that these companies are just now seeing the damage that could happen to “them” for allowing this nonsense to go on for so long and thus pollute minds and viewer opinions of these same companies is sad. I would have thought that they would have done professional research into the programing to understand longterm effects to their credibility, and more importantly, at least to them, the “bottom line”!
4/20/2018 10:34:47 am
Exactly right, if you are not careful you wind up with scores of videos 'proving' the Earth is flat or that Native Americans are descended from West Africans (as proven by the Olmec Stone Heads.) being recommended to you and you either have to start blocking recommendations or simply browsing YouTube without signing in to preserve your peace of mind.
4/20/2018 12:59:59 pm
No one worries while the money's rolling in. It's when revenues are threatened that people grow a conscience. What's truly scary is that there are enough idiots out there that make this kind of crap profitable.
4/20/2018 02:27:07 pm
It's all part of the zeitgeist. Try this editorial from today's Guardian:
4/20/2018 03:29:38 pm
“Akhenaten’s skull - or one believed to belong to him - exists and is not elongated.”
4/20/2018 04:05:05 pm
Sorry... the word "artificially" got left out. It is my understanding that the slightly elongated skull is the result of genetic factors rather than artificial deformation.
4/20/2018 04:34:00 pm
"Sorry but the KV55 skull is elongated"
4/20/2018 04:12:29 pm
Any time that "Bananas" Foerster spends in the States, is time that he not spending molesting the people of Peru, and conning gullible tourists.For that, those of us in South America, are ever thankful.
4/20/2018 04:37:13 pm
No, no,, you can keep him down there, we don't want him back.
4/20/2018 05:55:55 pm
Google has an ongoing problem with monetizing YouTube, and the advertisers have little control over placement. Copyright owners also have real problems with piracy of content. But as these are commercial problems and not technical ones, Google does not have a firm grasp on how to handle them. The problems also are in an entirely new field, following on the development of the new technology of desktop video.
4/20/2018 06:55:27 pm
Facebook and YouTube and other aggregate channels for hosting, posting and monetizing videos all carry bots and little alogorithms designed to sell ads and search for topics of interest. Yours being a fringe and myth site, is noticed by said bots and the ads come up accordingly. The producers of the content can tailor lesser bots when downlaoding their own videos, called tags, which they use to link the video to someone else's, or other similar topics.
4/22/2018 03:55:33 pm
Time was that all your local conspiracy theorist (CT) could hope for was a few free drinks from those listening to his/her yarn. The very best CTs could write a book and make a few books.
5/4/2018 08:50:46 pm
Jason, one of the friendlier YT science/skeptic channels is doing a series on Foerster's alien skull claims: https://youtu.be/ViCMuAXhOjQ
5/18/2018 12:29:28 pm
5/18/2018 12:55:03 pm
(A little addendum here.)
9/6/2018 07:47:18 am
Jason, you are very wrong about Khufu leaving texts about building the pyramid! This diary was written by a manager of the quarry and I have read it myself. All it speaks of is the RESTORATION. It does not in any way say they built it or show plans of any kind. He was known for rebuilding and preserving just like he did on the Sphinx. There is also a steel that proves the pyramids were in exsistance before Khufu. Im not a fan of conspiracies at all but I’m also not a fan of bad info like yours!
9/6/2018 07:52:57 am
I meant stele. Sorry for typo I’m on my phone. I forget it’s name offhand but it’s well known to any archaeologist. They don’t display it which makes me suspicious. Again I don’t like aliens or conspiracy but I do know it’s common sense they do cover up info like the German scientist guys who dated the Khufu signature in red ochre and proved it was a 19th century fake! I also think that Robert school guy is bogus. The pyramid was known to be pumping water as a machine so the erosion came from that run off not rain!
3/11/2020 10:44:07 pm
I've been following them for sometime now, and I find, questing, what's really going on, because they don't give a differential, true answering the questions. What the way their eating, what there eating, why don't they share info., I noticed that Emery, is also trimmed down and moved as well. I've looked up to these guys, thinking and hopping this is the real deal of Truth!!?. Since I was little I had a lot of things happening to me and it was hard going threw it by myself. It's all about this stuff. Yes they are making lots of money now, shouldn't it be free, except for all the time they invested!?. I would think, that would make sense! Please, looking for answers, like everyone else. Peace be with all of Us!
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I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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