YouTube has to figure why this keeps happening, and fast.
YouTube is no doubt looking inwards at its algorithm after a false conspiracy theory tying Tom Hanks to QAnon, the right wing conspiracy theory, was its top search result for the actor. The last time we reported on a false right wing conspiracy theory spreading through YouTube was it calling David Hogg a crisis actor, which is a fake thing and a thing he is not.
This is how bullshit spreads: If you searched for “Tom Hanks” on YouTube this week, your top results were QAnon conspiracy videos claiming that he is a pedophile. https://t.co/VEhb99YhD8 pic.twitter.com/zbXpgjnCLC
— ishmael (@iD4RO) July 30, 2018
Right wing conspiracy theorists have taken over YouTube’s search results — and this time with shockingly effective results. The actual fake news spread, the kind that led to events such as Pizzagate to become popular in the right wing conspiracy sphere, allowed also the QAnon theory to spread. So what is QAnon? QAnon is the — and we can’t emphasize this enough, absolutely fake and outlandish — conspiracy theory that Mueller wasn’t hired to investigate Trump, but that Trump hired Mueller to in fact investigate a worldwide pedophilia ring made up of the Democrats (especially Hillary Clinton) and big Hollywood celebrities. NPR has an excellent rundown of the conspiracy theory.
Far be it from us to point out that it’s very convenient that all of the enemies in this conspiracy theory are left leaning people. In any case, the conspiracy theory is beginning to spread into the mainstream, and people are critiquing platforms such as YouTube for not doing more to combat the spread of this fake news. Case in point — on Monday, videos accusing Tom Hanks of being a pedophile by the QAnon conspiracy theory base were the top search for the actor’s name on YouTube.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) July 30, 2018
Again, we cannot stress enough — all of this is fake. The actor who, as described by Wired — is a monogamous, clean, personality who donates to Democrats — is the perfect target of the kinds of groups who would want to invent these kinds of stories about him. Additional targets of this conspiracy theory have been Steven Spielberg and a Mexican construction company called Cemex. Like Hanks, both of these are unfounded and serve to meet the goals of this theory, which mostly allows Trump supporters to see their guy as a hero even as it becomes clearer and clearer that his goals and America’s goals are not exactly the same.
That link leads to the Putin story by the way. Like, I want to be coy, but I want you to know where it leads. I’m not too coy!
YouTube has since taken down the video from its results, but this isn’t the first time the platform has allowed a completely false video spouting a conspiracy theory to rise on its platform. You may remember our report on the amount “David Hogg is a Crisis Actor” videos that YouTube has allowed to reach the top of its searches (David Hogg is not a crisis actor).
Will YouTube shape up, or is this simply something we should not expect out of the video platform we have grown to trust? Will this end with YouTube’s CEO speaking before congress much like Mark Zuckerberg did earlier this year? Or will the platform recognize its role in spreading conspiracy theories? Look, I’m not that optimistic, so I know what I think will happen. For now, let’s just hope that social media curtails the spread of actual fake news and doesn’t just promote it alongside real new out of some weird sense of fairness.
Let’s see what Tom Hanks, one of the kindest men in Hollywood, is actually up to.
There’s no hot water. Why is there no hot water? Hanx. pic.twitter.com/AdsLpGQ3ow
— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) July 30, 2018
That is a very cool sink, Mr. Hanks.
What do you think of the story? Do you think YouTube has a chance of shaping up? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter at @WhatsTrending.