To YouTube : Halt Ads on Doomsday Videos

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This is an international petition to YouTube. The ad revenue provides a strong financial incentive to unethical hoaxers and people of diminished responsibility to post videos that terrify many people including young kids, to the point that many become suicidal and need treatment from doctors for months or years.

We value freedom of speech, and are not asking them to take them down. Just to remove the ads. YouTube already removes ads from many videos on ethical grounds. We think most advertisers also would want these ads stopped. What company promoting cheap holiday deals, would want their ad to show on a video that terrifies young kids?

The screenshot is of a video by TopMan 2.0 which as you see is getting many comments from children as young as 7 scared they will die. See:

  • I am only 9 i am going to die
  • Im 7 ಡ- ಡ why!!!!!! (if you follow that link it makes it the highlighted comment at the top of the page)

It has numerous ads as the video plays. He also has teeshirts he sells as merchandise below the video. He has had well over a million views from it. Over 1.2 million views as of writing this which would make his earnings possibly as much as $4,000 from this one video, according to this YouTube video earnings calculator, but given how ad heavy it is, and the teeshirts as well, it may be earning him much more.

Nowadays 70% of children age 5-7 watch YouTube (UK figures). This video has attracted hundreds of comments from them, saying their age and that they are afraid to die. There is no way that the author of the video doesn't know the effect of his video on young children.

For my debunk see my

I started this petition after an earlier video in 2016 which racked up millions of views. The Telegraph did a countdown timer to the end of the world on their "silly season" news item about it, which terrified the scared people who PM'd me and emailed me about it. It was republished with a new date, finally reached nine million views in total, and had an estimated $12,200 to $30,000 in revenue.

For more about this see my

HIGH EARNING VBLOGGERS EARNING THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS FROM DOOMSDAY VIDEOS

TopMan 2.0 has only this one fake doomsday video. But others specialize in them as the only form of video they do.

Steve Olsen, a fake doomsday vblogger, told Metro Magazine in 2018 that he earned $50,000 a year from his videos, SocialBlade at the time estimated he earned $20,700 as the upper estimate.

There are dozens of other channels that specialize in fake doomsdays. These are the highest earners I know of, using SocialBlade's upper estimate which seems likely to be more accurate:

  • End Times Prophecy News $153.8K (Specializes in Trump based end of times)
  • Paul Begley $149K (rapture prophecies) and asks for donations probably earns far more.
  • Planet Nibiru $134K
  • The Planet Around Earth  $46.2K
  • SKY WATCHER MATT ROGERS $32.5K
  • WSO (Steve Olsen) $20.7K - he says he earns $50K
  • PLANET X NEWS $20.1K (Scott Cone)

If the rest scale up like Steve Olsen, these would all be earning around $50,000 a year or more, solely from fake doomsdays. More here:

LIVES RUINED BY THESE VIDEOS

We hear from many people whose lives have been ruined by watching these doomsday videos. We know that such stories can cause suicide. In 2012 this is a clear example:

David Morisson, who used to front NASA's "Ask the Astrobiologist" talked about how he received numerous questions from these scared and suicidal people in the run up to 2012, including many who self identified as young kids, and  heard anecdotally of several suicides over the fictional 'Nibiru' that was supposed to hit Earth that year. See his video here.

Thankfully none of the people we support have yet committed suicide. However, given the large number of suicidal people that contact our support group, I think it is likely that these videos have caused at least some suicides.

Most of those who we help are under treatment by health professionals, usually diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders. They tend to get obsessed by these videos and spend much of their waking hours searching for them before they get treatment for it, getting more and more scared and retreating from ordinary activities.

We hear of people who end up locking themselves in their rooms, reducing contact with friends and families to a minimum, including partners and children, in order to search online for doomsday videos to try to relieve their anxiety that the world will end, but getting more and more scared. We hear from members who can't eat, can't sleep, who are afraid to leave their house, and who find themselves vomiting with fear. Most of us have probably never been scared enough to discover that you vomit when you are in extreme fear.

When they get treatment it typically takes them weeks to  months to recover. These are people normally with no previous history of anxiety or depression. They often report that they were normal happy children or adults until they saw one of these stories, and they wish they could roll back to before they saw the story.

OUR DOOMSDAY DEBUNKED GROUP

If you are affected by this, or you have a friend, colleague or relative who is, do join our Doomsday Debunked group on Facebook, and we also welcome debunkers to help debunk the fake stories.

YOUTUBE ALREADY HAS SIMILAR POLICIES FOR SEXUALLY SUGGESTIVE VIDEOS, ONES THAT DEPICT EXTREME VIOLENCE, AND SO ON

YouTube already removes ads from many videos on ethical grounds.

  • Sexually suggestive content, including partial nudity and sexual humor
  • Violence, including display of serious injury and events related to violent extremism
  • Inappropriate language, including harassment, profanity and vulgar language
  • Promotion of drugs and regulated substances, including selling, use and abuse of such items
  • Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown
  • See YouTube tightens ad rule enforcement, demonetizing numerous videos.

SUGGESTON TO ADD NEW CATEGORY

We are asking it to add a new category, something like

  • Promotion of doomsdays and end of world scenarios

Many lives are being ruined by these videos and even one suicide is too many.

We are not asking YouTube to remove ads on videos about 'Flat Earth' or our "second sun" or other such topics. This is specifically for videos that predict a near future terrifying major disaster.

REQUEST TO YOUTUBE

We ask YouTube to remove ads from all videos that promote Doomsday scenarios on the basis that these videos make vulnerable people suicidal, so it is immoral to reward views of them with ad revenue.  Also we do not believe that YouTube advertisers would want their ads to be shown on such videos.

This should be part of their work to combat fake news.

YouTube, please do what you can to help with this. Please halt all ad revenue on these videos.

WE WELCOME THE YOUTUBE INITIATIVE TO REDUCE RECOMENDATIONS OF BORDERLINE CONTENT - BUT MORE IS NEEDED

See their blog post here:

  • "We’ll continue that work this year, including taking a closer look at how we can reduce the spread of content that comes close to—but doesn’t quite cross the line of—violating our Community Guidelines. To that end, we’ll begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways—such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11."

This may help a little, but the fake doomsday videos are often discovered via social media on Facebook, or twitter, or through the sensationalist press, as happened with the Telegraph article about the world ending on 29th July 2016.

As another example, Paul Begley's videos warning viewers that the world is about to end often feature as news stories in the Daily Express, go to the top of Google News for the day, and are widely shared and reshared on Facebook by scared viewers telling their friends the world is about to end. This then leads not only to new views but also to many new subscribers to his channel.

The ads provide a financial incentive to these video creators to make viral scary Doomsday themed video stories. It's only part of the entire ecosystem of "fear porn" but if YouTube can remove the ads from these videos, it would make a big difference. Surely also most advertisers wouldn't be keen to promote such videos.

FOR EVERYONE

Please sign and share our petition and help put an end to monetizing of doomsday videos on YouTube. Thanks!

WHILE YOU ARE HERE, TWO MORE PETITIONS YOU MAY WISH TO SIGN

The YouTube videos are part of a whole ecosystem of fake doomsday news that you find if you start to search for these stories.

The sensationalist press including the UK 'red top'' tabloids and the US doomsday TV channels often dramatize fake doomsdays and scare many. The mainstream press also sometimes run fake doomsdays including a New York Times story about Yellowstone so bad that the lead researcher tweeted the Snopes debunk. The petition is to journalists to take particular care over 'Doomsday' stories like this, to be as careful checking them as they would be for, say, a fake obituary. Do sign and share our petition here if you agree:

And then Google, Apple and Facebook run these fake stories as 'news'. For some searches the top results in Google News are 'red top' tabloid stories about a planet supposedly about to hit Earth in the near future.

These papers such as The Sun and the Daily Express and Daily Star are well known in the UK for writing nonsensical sensationalist stuff, with a distinctive red top to the paper so that you know what it is you are buying. They shouldn't feature as "news" at all: young people and those from other countries, not knowing their reputation, see them in Google News and just see it as "news" and believe what they say.

They then get terrified that the world is about to be destroyed by an impact with this totally fictional planet 'Nibiru' and other absurdities. Do sign and share our petition here if you agree:

PLEASE CHECK OUT THE REASONS FOR SIGNING

To get an idea of how this affects people do read the heart felt comments on this campaign by some of the signatories in the "reasons for signing" - and do share  your own story when you sign.

Thanks!

Robert Walker (admin and founder of Doomsday Debunked)