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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 27th April 2018 > A Conspiracy of Algorithms

A Conspiracy of Algorithms

YouTube is finally reckoning with its misleading videos



LOUIE VELESKI HAS SOME interesting opinions. He thinks ghosts exist and humans have never been to the moon. A resident of Melbourne, Australia, Veleski expounds on his points of view on his YouTube channel, Better Mankind, which earns him up to $5,400 a month.

Conspiracy theories, it turns out, are very profitable for the YouTubeinclined entrepreneur. On his channel, Peladophobian, Ryan Silvey, 18 and also from Australia, posts videos like “School Is Illuminati” and “Donald Trump Is Vladimir Putin.” Though satirical, the videos may be lumped in with other contrarian or esoteric posts in search results. Silvey makes more than $7,500 a month on average from advertisements that some of his 628,000 subscribers view.

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THE NEW IRON CURTAIN? For years, Russia has tried to weaken and divide the EU, supporting groups ranging from Catalan separatists in Spain to British Brexit activists. The Kremlin had offered loans to France’s National Front and used its propaganda channels to whip up fake news about the persecution of Russian minorities in the Baltics. According to Political Capital, a Budapest based think tank, Russian-based trolls, Twitter bots and social media sock puppets have been put to work, boosting exaggerated stories of crimes by immigrants and “selling pro-Kremlin narratives within a tabloid, conspiracy package.”