Friday, April 6, 2018

How YouTube's Malicious and Insane Conspiracy Theorists Finally Came Home

by Nomad

One Sunday Morning in Texas

On November 5, 2017, 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley walked into the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, armed with a Ruger AR-556 semi-automatic rifle. He was wearing black tactical gear, a ballistic vest, and a black face-mask featuring a white skull.

Within minutes, Kelley had killed 26 and injured 20 others. After a high-speed chase, the shooter was cornered by police and took his own life.
It was a story we have, unfortunately, become quite familiar with.

The subsequent investigation was lead by the Texas Rangers and assisted by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. They concluded that the shooting was not motivated by racism or anti-religious views. It was apparently sparked by an argument between the shooter and his mother-in-law. The investigator found that Kelley acted alone. 

Of the twenty-six victims, ten of the dead were women, seven were men, seven were girls and one was a boy and one an unborn child.
The oldest victim, Dennis Johnson, 77, was a church elder and a veteran of both the U.S. Navy Reserves and the Army National Guard.
Another victim as Annabelle Pomeroy, the 14-year-old daughter of the pastor of the church. (For a complete list of the victims and their stories, follow this link.)

In the aftermath of the shooting, after the news organizations had thoroughly explored the details of the case,  something very strange and disturbing happened. Led by Fake news websites and far-right activists, half-baked conspiracy theories about the incident began to surface.

They claimed the whole thing never happened.

A Special Kind of Cruelty

Imagine being a traumatized survivor of a mass shooting or a devastated family member and suddenly finding yourself facing self-appointed conspiracy theory crusaders who claim that the horrific events never took place at all. Imagine, after all you endured, being accused of being a conspirator in a so-called "false flag operation."

It's really hard to comprehend the cruelty in such thinking.
According to these people, the faked incident was designed to manipulate the public as part of a deep state agenda. They claim that attacks were carefully orchestrated for political purposes with non-existent victims and crisis actors as grieving relatives and witnesses.

The investigative site VICE recorded a confrontation between two such conspiracy theorists and pastor Pomeroy. Robert Ussery, (who identified himself as Side Thorn), and Jodi Mann, (aka Conspiracy Granny), went to the site of the attack with cameras. This included interviewing townspeople and trying to get them to admit that the tragedy was "manufactured." The pair were eventually arrested.

But not after denouncing Pomeroy as a "filthy liar" and  "a demon." Both were charged with trespassing and resisting arrest, and Ussery was also charged with making a terroristic threat and possession of marijuana.

Why do people like Ussery and Mann exist? What motivates them? They would answer that they are simply in a quest for truth but they seem much less interested in the facts and investigating the events than in self-promotion.

And as we know there are more enough websites and social media platforms out there willing to disseminate and promote their hare-brained and malicious ideas.

YouTube and the False Narrative

Actually, Side Thorn runs a conspiracy website called "Side Thorn Journalist." They also have quite a following on YouTube. Sadly, these types of crackpots are more common than you'd think. On Youtube, one can easily find dozens of videos making similar outrageous claims.

Following the shooting at Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, that left seventeen students and teachers dead, a video emerged claiming that David Hogg, a student, and outspoken gun control advocate, was actually an actor. That video quickly racked up hundreds of views and for a short time, shot up the top spot on
YouTube’s “trending” rankings.
Hours later, after the accusation had made its rounds on social media, YouTube yanked the clip, citing its policy against harassment and bullying.

A spokesperson for Youtube explained in a statement that the incident was an exceptional case.
“Because the video contained footage from an authoritative news source, our system misclassified it. As soon as we became aware of the video, we removed it from Trending and from YouTube for violating our policies. We are working to improve our systems moving forward.”
Such excuses from YouTube simply does not match the facts. It was not the first time.  Victims of the Las Vegas shooting were also outraged after conspiracy theory videos appeared on the site which claimed that the Las Vegas mass shooting was a hoax.

Soon after the Las Vegas shooting, the BBC took a closer look at the YouTube conspiracy theorists.

As the Guardian noted:
One video on the first page of results on the Google-owned video platform Wednesday morning was called Las Vegas ‘Shooting’ … Did It Actually Happen? and questioned whether the attack was “fake” and if victims were “actors”. It had more than 250,000 views after one day on the site.
What was YouTube's response in this case? Officials for the company explained that the conspiracy video and others like it did not violate its standards.
And that's part of the problem.
Why isn't accusing shooting survivors of being "crisis actors" and involved in a conspiracy- with no evidence whatsoever- considered a form of harassment and bullying? 

Critics have charged that YouTube simply hasn't accepted responsibility for the quality of the content it actively promotes.   
The proliferation of politicized propaganda comes as Silicon Valley corporations are facing increased scrutiny over their role in allowing false news to reach millions on their platforms, possibly assisting Russia’s efforts to interfere in US politics.
Clearly, YouTube, like Facebook and Twitter, has its own a fake news problem. Just like other forms of social media, it is susceptible to exploitation by those who wish- for whatever reason- to sow chaos through fake news. 

Karma Comes A-knocking

But this week, Karma had a shocking trick to play. In yet another mass shooting event,  Nasim Najafi Aghdam entered the company's San Bruno headquarters and shot and wounded three people before killing herself.

Although Aghdam's true motives for her rampage are unknown, she did leave us with a few clues.  She was apparently angry with YouTube's policies. She left this on her website and implied she was being suppressed by the corporation.

Almost immediately, a video- produced by the person calling himself FATALLYDEMONIC'S CHANNEL!!!-  appeared. He was promoting the idea that the event was.. you guessed it.. a false flag operation perpetrated by "LEFTIST" and "the U.N./GLOBALIST SOROS SPONSORED FILTH to BAN OUR GUNS and END OUR FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS!!!"

Here's a screenshot of the content creator. Honest.

Few of the comments actually questioned the conspiracy theory. In fact, the majority agreed with the supposition. One commenter called the San Bruno incident a "100% staged event."

Here's another unretouched example:
Exactly! Ever since everyone been being so controversial about the gun issues there more shooting happening more and more, but i believe its just a set up to repel our rights slowly but efficiently to convince the the population it was the pubics idea to make the repeI of our Laws! its all a set up im not saying the victims who got hurt Arnt "Real victims" because they are but it was planned out to happen by our own gov, and i do feel sympathy for those who got shot but still it could be a set up, people do get hurt Durring false flags but its the goverment who plans this shit, they dont care who get in there way the more the better for The, all do is control the way the public thinks about our current rights.. :/
By the time, I finished writing this post, a second video appeared claiming the YouTube shooting was a false flag operation. And then came another.

I hope YouTube executives, who claim to be working to improve "their systems" have had a chance to watch the kind of content they give a platform to.