Bot Sentinel released their report this week into their investigation into the targeted and coordinated hate campaign against the Duchess of Sussex. Bot Sentinel’s investigation was purely for Twitter, and the 80-plus Twitter accounts which are responsible for the bulk of the hate campaign. But Twitter isn’t the only social media company, and it’s not the only way hateful trolls can organize and monetize their hatred, racism, sexism and lies. Many of the bigger hate accounts also have Instagram accounts and YouTube channels. Newsweek points out that YouTube is a major way these anti-Meghan trolls are monetizing their hate:
Meghan Markle trolls are making money for YouTube by spreading hatred of her through their videos, Newsweek can reveal. One account, Murky Meg, has 85,400 subscribers. When viewed by Newsweek, a video with more than 62,000 views carried an advert for human rights charity Amnesty International.
The YouTube account has produced more than 300 videos criticizing the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and also carries adverts for Murky Meg merchandise, including branded cups, T-shirts and bags for between £10 and £15 ($13.75 and $20.63).
Amnesty told Newsweek it advertised through YouTube using a package that applied the company’s strictest controls on hateful content—but its ad was placed on Murky Meg’s channel all the same. In a statement, it said: “As is common practice, Amnesty International UK advertises on YouTube using their strictest safety settings which should automatically prevent ad placement alongside content that has been classified as hateful or sensational. Amnesty campaigns against online abuse and urges social media companies to step up in their efforts to tackle and remove any harmful content.”
Another account, HG Tudor, has 79,600 subscribers and when viewed by Newsweek carried adverts from a law firm and a text-to-speech company. The owner also monetizes through a blog that offers audio consultations at $150 for a one-hour session and suggests customers from across different time zones. An example of just one of numerous videos is titled, “Harry´s Wife Part 78.10 : The Case of the Stolen Balls (Meghan Markle).”
The revelations come after data analysis agency Bot Sentinel identified a network of 83 accounts the company said were part of a coordinated hate campaign against Meghan. Founder Christopher Bouzy referred Newsweek to the HG Tudor YouTube channel and added: “It’s being monetized. I would be shocked if the core accounts were not being monetized in some way, whether they’re being paid by someone to do this, whether there is some other financial motive behind this. I just cannot see these accounts spending so much time each day and there is not something else behind it. Is it just hate driving them?”
He added that Twitter would also be making money out of the hate accounts: “If they’re tweeting 300 or 400 times in a day then that’s pretty substantial. The tools that we’re using indicate there’s a potential reach of 17 million-plus users and that’s pretty significant. Twitter is in the business of monetizing users, views and interactions. They’re not in the business of shutting down accounts, that’s going to hurt their bottom line.”
I would assume that YouTube advertising operates much like blog advertising, in that companies hire a third party to simply place their ads across a spectrum of YouTube channels. It’s not like Amnesty International is aware of all of the individual channels on which their ads appear. It doesn’t work that way. So this is a failure of YouTube, similar to Twitter’s failures in shutting down hate accounts. It’s up to companies like YT, Instagram and Twitter to deplatform hate using their own tools to do so! Also: my feeling is that it’s probably easier to make money off hate on YouTube as opposed to Twitter. But I seriously doubt the “ringleader” hate accounts are only being paid through social media and YT.
Photos courtesy of YouTube, Archewell.