YouTube’s Advertising Hellhole Urges People to Waste Money on Mystery Boxes

Will Sommer for The Daily Beast:

Untold riches are promised on Mystery Brand, a website that sells prize-filled “mystery boxes.” If you buy one of the digital boxes, some of which cost hundreds of dollars, you might only get a fidget spinner—or you might get a luxury sports car.

For just $100, users can win a box filled with rare Supreme streetwear. For only $12.99, they can win a Lamborghini, or even a $250 million mega-mansion billed as “the most expensive Los Angeles realty.”

Or at least that’s what some top YouTubers have been telling their young fans about the gambling site—with the video stars apparently seeing that as a gamble worth taking, especially after a dip in YouTube advertising rates.

Yikes.

Sailor Moon’s Long-Lost Americanized Bizarro-World Counterpart

Cecilia D’Anastasio has the fascinating story behind the version of Sailor Moon created for a western audience that never aired. I don’t give a shit about Sailor Moon, except that it was valuable in broadening the audience for different kinds of animation outside of the typical Ninja Scroll-tier of garbage that was popular at the time, but this was still worth reading:

Decades later, the pilot for the American Sailor Moon show has achieved mythological status. That pilot—the only episode ever made—vanished into thin air, its remains scattered across the internet like animated ashes. Fans have labored to piece together the show’s history on Geocities-style websites with infinite-scroll Sailor Moon fan art and labyrinthine lost-media wikis. For over two decades, they’ve searched for its only episode with no success. I was unable to play bystander to a piece of lost anime ephemera. Immediately upon hearing about the legendary American Sailor Moon pilot, I knew I had to try to find it. I would not rest until I’d exhausted every lead.

YouTube Suggested Conspiracy Videos to Children

Let me check one thing, I’ve forgotten since the last time, should we let algorithms written by an advertising publisher decide what is OK or not for kids to watch? James Cook:

Search for “UFO” on YouTube Kids and you’ll mostly find videos of toys that are clearly fine for children to watch. But one of the top videos claimed to show a UFO shooting at a chemtrail, and we found several videos by prominent conspiracy theorist David Icke in the suggested videos. YouTube removed the videos from YouTube Kids after we contacted it about the issue.

One suggested video was an hours-long lecture by Icke in which he claims that aliens built the pyramids, that the planet is run by reptile-human hybrids, that Freemasons engage in human sacrifice, that the assassination of President Kennedy was planned by the US government, and that humans would evolve in 2012.

Ah, that would be a “no” on the algorithms by an advertising publisher then. I’ve never had more love for the PBS Kids apps and video programming.

Star Trek: Continues is Excellent

With most fan-made productions you’re kind of left to go “oh it’s good… for a fan show.” That isn’t the case for Star Trek: Continues’ continuation of Star Trek’s original series. Continues is better than the new reboot movies, it’s also better than many of the shows after Deep Space 9. This show’s cast is excellent, the episodes are entertaining and have just the right amount of morality while still leaning into what made TOS so good.

Unlike Discovery you won’t have to subscribe to CBS’ crappy streaming service to watch Star Trek: Continues. Above is their playlist that has the full run of the show for free.

Don’t Let Children Watch “YouTube Kids”

James Bridle has a terrifying and important article, it’s pretty long but the most important point is that people and businesses are systematically generating new videos for YouTube that appear to be tame pirated copies of shows like Peppa Pig but after a few minutes they change to be really awful and the YouTube app and site for kids don’t filter these out:

A step beyond the simply pirated Peppa Pig videos mentioned previously are the knock-offs. These too seem to teem with violence. In the official Peppa Pig videos, Peppa does indeed go to the dentist, and the episode in which she does so seems to be popular?—?although, confusingly, what appears to be the real episode is only available on an unofficial channel. In the official timeline, Peppa is appropriately reassured by a kindly dentist. In the version above, she is basically tortured, before turning into a series of Iron Man robots and performing the Learn Colours dance. A search for “peppa pig dentist” returns the above video on the front page, and it only gets worse from here

The reason why this crap skates by is because YouTube (and Google, and other companies) refuse to take responsibility for moderating what they host. Instead of hiring more people to moderate these things, the moderation is offloaded to algorithms and viewers.

Even if you only start a video on an official channel, auto play and the recommendations next to and after the video may take a viewer to another one.

tl;dr: Don’t let your kids watch YouTube. If you don’t have kids, please let your friends who do know about this problem.