Monday, June 10, 2013

Something Weird on YouTube

Yes, I know that there is a lot of weird stuff on YouTube. Every day, it seems, one of my kids is talking about something truly bizarre they saw online, usually somebody doing something loud and messy.

But I'm talking about something I've seen just in the last couple of weeks while searching for recent content. Let's say I'm trying to find videos of "cute baby animals." And I want the latest videos, so I ask the search engine to sort by upload date. What do I get?

Well, to be fair, I get quite a few videos of cute baby animals. But I also get a lot of slideshows by users 
with usernames like "beautyTube9" and "TrickPics." These are real usernames, and they are junking up the search results with these slideshows. Why do I object to slideshows?

Well, I don't, really. But I do object to slideshows that are composed completely of stolen material, and that are generated and uploads by automated programs, or "bots."

How do I know that this is what's happening? Well, let's look at the stats for TrickPics. This account was started on YouTube on June 1st, and as of this writing has posted 2,706 videos. Somehow, I don't think this user really manually posted 270 slide shows a day. Especially because all of these videos were actually posted between June 1st and June 2nd. That's 1,353 videos a day.

The user beautyTube9 joined on June 5th and has posted 2,142 videos. This user (or this user's bot) is still posting, as of an hour before this writing.

There isn't an easy way to report these users to YouTube, because their violations don't easily fall under any of the pull-down menus for reporting a user, and it's very time-consuming to report each individual video. And even if I had that kind of time, I don't even have a basis for making a complaint, because I haven't seen them using any of my material, and only the copyright holder can make such a complaint.

So meanwhile, these user are making the task of looking for recent legitimate content that much harder. And the weird part is, I don't see why they are doing it. A lot of the videos don't seem to be monetized, they aren't getting a lot of views, and there are no links in the descriptions (which consist only of keywords). So what is the point of all this?

And more to the point, how do we get rid of it?

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