Conspiracy theorists take advantage of YouTube algorithms
Conspiracy theorists take advantage of videos posted online that spread misinformation and spread disturbing content, including false claims about Keir Starmer.
YouTube and the video platform’s filmmakers make money from ‘charity, banking and phone ads’ that appear when the misleading videos are viewed, according to The temperature. The platform uses an algorithm to “serve advertisements from organizations such as Amnesty, Vodafone, Disney and HelloFresh” alongside videos that spread false and dishonest information.
One such video went viral “days” before Starmer was “ambushed by an angry mob” outside Parliament last week, the newspaper said.
The video, titled “Boris Blames Keir for Failing Evil BBC Saville (sic) (hands clapping emoji) Huge Starmer Fail”, has been viewed “over 150,000 times” and “includes footage of the questions from the Prime Minister”.
The creator of the video is Alex Belfield, a former BBC Radio 2 presenter who is awaiting trial for harassing Jeremy Vine and seven other former colleagues. His YouTube channel has 373,000 subscribers and includes content about the 5G conspiracy. He is thought to have earned “up to £500,000 a year” from advertising on YouTube.
The videos on Belfield’s channel have been viewed “hundreds of millions” of times and are frequently pushed by conspiracy news platforms such as Resistance GB to encrypted messaging app Telegram. William Coleshill, the owner of the Resistance GB platform, was “one of the protesters who ambushed Starmer”, the Times said.
Anti-vaccination and conspiracy theorists are active on a range of platforms as social media giants struggle to effectively tackle Covid-19 misinformation.
The brother of former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, Piers Corbyn has ‘stepped away from man-made climate change denial to campaign on a more fashionable conspiracy – that the pandemic is fake and that Covid vaccines -19 are dangerous,” reported Sky News.
Corbyn has become something of a “Covid-denial influencer,” the broadcaster said, appearing as a “flagship act” at anti-vaccination rallies and protests across the country. The conspiracy theorist told the broadcaster he “accepts that Covid-19 exists but denies that coronavirus is anything other than a type of flu”.
In an email to Sky News, Corbyn insisted ‘there is no pandemic’, while leaflets distributed by his Stop New Normal conspiracy website declare ‘End all Covid Vax’ and “The Covid – the virus of symptoms does NOT EXIST!… There is no proof!”.
He is believed to have raised “around £45,000″ in donations via his conspiracy website as well as through fundraising campaigns on CrowdJustice, while other fundraisers set up for Stop New Normal are worth ” at least £3,700″.
A survey of The Independent also found that Spotify, Apple and YouTube have all distributed podcasts featuring Corbyn “during which he shares falsehoods” and calls the pandemic a “hoax”.
A former Conservative councilor in Enfield, north London, Coleshill is now editor of Resistance GB, a conspiracy theory news platform that has been instrumental in releasing videos of Starmer being assaulted in Westminster.
Footage of the incident bearing the Resistance GB logo is “shared widely on anti-vaccine social media and beyond”, said The Guardian. On Telegram, a social media platform used by many far-right activists, a post showing the video was viewed 90,000 times in less than 24 hours.
Coleshill was suspended from the Conservative Party in 2018 for making ‘racist remarks’ about a Labor colleague, the Enfield Independent.
The Independent reported in October that Coleshill had also recorded himself chasing Michael Gove through Whitehall, demanding: ‘How do you justify the unlawful lockdowns that have been imposed on this country? According to The Guardian, he also “confronted” Labor MP Jess Phillips and BBC journalist Nick Watt.
Edward Freeman, an anti-lockdown rapper who goes by the name Remeece, hit the headlines after visiting UK schools ‘blasting his anti-vaccine anthem Don’t Tek Di Vaccine to students outside the school gates,” said The Observer.
A video on his YouTube channel features the lyrics: “You’re injecting who? We’re pulling our kids out of school, Pfizer you’re a big fool, Try walking a mile in my shoes, Foot soldiers, we don’t watch the news, Burn the tyrannical rules.
The monetized video has been viewed nearly 20,000 times, “alongside ads from companies such as Smile Direct Club, the orthodontic company,” the Times said.
The Observer reported that his songs are “actively promoted” to Spotify users in “playlists generated by its content recommendation engine”.
Some songs referenced other conspiracy theories, “including claims that satanic pedophiles run the world and that the Sandy Hook school shooting in the United States that left 26 people dead was a hoax” .
Spotify removed several of the songs that were flagged by the newspaper, which it said violated rules prohibiting content promoting “dangerous, false or misleading content about Covid-19” that could pose a threat to public health. .
But the findings have ‘fueled debate’ over the streaming giant’s handling of misinformation and it has come under closer scrutiny over its relationship with podcaster Joe Rogan, who has been accused of spreading misinformation on Covid-19.
The Brighton-based mother-of-four runs a 90,000 strong Facebook group called ‘Save Our Rights UK (SORUK)’ and previously worked for Labor MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle.
Although Creffield has “categorically denied” that SORUK is a conspiracy theory group, Sky News claims the group has “shared media questioning the pandemic, appeared alongside well-known conspiracy theorists and encouraged people not to take the vaccine.
SORUK is funded by donations, and in January Creffield launched a new social media platform called Autarki, which costs £20 a year or £2 a month.
Creffield was fined more than £20,000 for breaching Covid-19 restrictions by staging anti-lockdown protests in London on May 29 and June 26 last year, according to TheArgus.
Kate Shemirani was ‘one of the most famous faces’ of anti-vaccination and anti-mask activists to emerge in the early months of the pandemic, says The Jewish Chronicle in September 2020.
She rose to prominence after using social media accounts under the name ‘Kate Shemirani – Natural Nurse in a Toxic World’, to promote ‘her own take on the pandemic’ through which she garnered a large following online, said The Independent.
A former registered nurse, she was struck off by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) in June 2021 after months of suspension for spreading false information. The NMC concluded that her behavior was “far below the standards expected of a registered nurse and constituted misconduct.”
In a speech at an anti-lockdown rally in July 2021, she “compared medical staff to Nazi war criminals, made explicit reference to their executions and demanded that people collect the names of doctors and nurses in the UK,” said The Guardian.