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#Elsagate: a subreddit that's sleuthing out the weird videos of Youtube Kids

Published: December 1, 2017
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Source: Boing Boing

Last month, James "New Aesthetic" Bridle published an influential essay exploring the prolific and disturbing video-spam that had come to dominate Youtube Kids, in which seemingly algorithmically generated videos endlessly recombined a handful of Disney characters and assorted others engaged in violent, abusive and even psychosexual conduct, over a soundtrack of a few repeated public-domain kids' songs, with all sorts of trickery designed to uprank them in Youtube's play-next, recommendation and search results -- keyword stuffing, duration-stretching and more.

The videos' origin remains mysterious, though. Who the actual fuck is making these? A rogue AI? A farm of minimum-wage machinima animators? A single demented genius with a legion of copycats who are just as much in the dark?

Enter the Elsagate subreddit, where they are sleuthing out the production methodologies, corporate structure, history and practitioners behind the phenomenon. They're already making some progress: for example, this post credibly identifies Realillusion's Crazytalk Animator as the software used by the Youtube Kids spammers.

Another post connects the videos to a mobile game spam that did the same recombination in the world of free apps for parents looking to entertain their kids.

That said, there's a lot of heat alongside the light -- some users are convinced that there's a Pizzagate-style conspiracy to groom children for sexual abuse, and obsess over alleged hidden codes in the videos, while other redditors tell them to cut it out.

Worth watching, in any event!

Elsagate [Reddit]

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