<videovortex> The Political in the Political Economy of YouTube

Geert Lovink geert at xs4all.nl
Thu Oct 5 09:35:12 CEST 2017

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/04/las-vegas-shooting-youtube-hoax-conspiracy-theories <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/04/las-vegas-shooting-youtube-hoax-conspiracy-theories>

A quote:

"It appears YouTube is actively helping these videos reach wide audiences. Searching for “Las Vegas shooting videos” immediately leads to a wide range of viral videos suggesting that law enforcement and others have purposefully deceived the public. Some label the tragedy a “false flag”, a term <https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/09/las-vegas-shooting-false-flag-government-infowars> conspiracy theorists typically use to refer to mass shootings they say are staged by the government to advance gun control.

YouTube <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/youtube> told the Guardian that this footage and other specific conspiracy videos that appeared after a generic search did not violate its standards. Complaints about YouTube enabling fake news follow reports that within hours of the tragedy, both Facebook and Google were actively promoting rightwing blogs <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/oct/02/las-vegas-shooting-facebook-google-fake-news-shooter>and conspiracy sites, some misidentifying the shooter and claiming he was a Democrat who opposed Donald Trump. The proliferation of politicized propaganda comes as Silicon Valley corporations are facing increased scrutiny <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/02/facebook-says-up-to-10m-people-saw-ads-bought-by-russian-agency>over their role in allowing false news <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/21/facebook-adverts-congress-russia-trump-us-election> to reach millions on their platforms, possibly assisting Russia’s efforts to interfere in US politics <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/30/blacktivist-facebook-account-russia-us-election>. 
Conspiracy theories about mass shootings are nothing new in America, but some fear YouTube’s popularity and algorithms are exacerbating the problem. In addition to automatically suggesting Las Vegas conspiracy footage to people with basic search requests <https://twitter.com/josh_emerson/status/915418788400652289?refsrc=email&s=11>, YouTube has promoted a wide variety of fake related content to people who watch a single propaganda video.

After the Guardian watched one questionable video highlighted on the main Las Vegas shooting search page (from a gun rights advocate suggesting the facts didn’t add up), YouTube promoted: “Government Staged Las Vegas Mass Shooting” (215,000 views), “PROOF: MEDIA & LAW ENFORCEMENT ARE LYING ABOUT THE VEGAS SHOOTING” (660,000 views) and “PROOF Las Vegas shooting <https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/las-vegas-shooting> FALSE FLAG hoax” (70,000 views). The site automatically played a “Las Vegas HOAX Exposed” video (150,000 views)."

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