posted by Benedict Townsend

Caspar’s December video about HIV has drawn hefty criticism for its thumbnail

On the 26th December 2016, YouTuber Caspar Lee released a video entitled ‘Living With HIV’. The video itself is actually fantastic: It shows Caspar in his native South Africa talking to a young man named Lyoiso, who lives with HIV. Caspar has called Lyoiso an ‘incredible guy’ and says that, ‘it was such a lovely experience and I hope you can take something from his amazing energy in this video.’ The video is sweet and highlights an important issue. So far so good, right?

Well, this is where things take a turn. You see, when choosing a thumbnail (the picture that accompanies/advertises the video) Caspar opted not to use a still from the video or a picture of Lyoiso, but rather a picture of himself looking noticeably sad and pensive. This picture of a worried/serious Caspar, when accompanied with the title of the video: ‘Living With HIV’, can easily be (mis)interpreted as indicating that it is Caspar himself that is living with HIV.  Take a look at the thumbnail for yourself:

 

 

You could argue that this misunderstanding is the fault of the observer, not the viewer and that maybe people won’t have necessarily have come to that conclusion. The problem is that tons of people interpreted the thumbnail that way and they are not happy about it all:

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Is It Clickbait?

The main disgust directed towards the video clearly comes from those who feel that it is a nasty example of clickbait. Clickbait is a concept that is widely known but also widely misunderstood. Making an alluring thumbnail or catchy title is not clickbait, that’s simply good advertising. What is clickbait is when your catchy title or thumbnail has 0% to do with the actual content of the thing it advertises. So, for example, if we had written this article about people being annoyed at Caspar’s thumbnail, but in reality there were no people annoyed, that would have been clickbait.

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In the case of Caspar’s HIV video, the argument from critics is that Caspar is click-baiting the viewer into thinking that he is revealing thathe himself has (presumably secretly) been living with HIV. This would be a huge revelation and a video that a ton of people (including people who may not usually watch Caspar) would be interested in watching, out of curiosity. By making it appear that the video is about him having HIV, he would be able to draw in a ton of viewers to his video and get him lots of views (and advertising money). At least, that’s what critics are saying.

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If true, this would obviously be insanely cynical and insensitive, because it would be playing not only on people’s worries (or morbid curiosity) about Caspar’s health and wellbeing but would also turn one of the most dangerous viruses and sensitive social topics in the world into a tool for getting more YouTube views. This is then just made even worse when you consider the actual content of the video.

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Regardless of what side you may be on, we can agree that it’s unfortunate that this issue has sidetracked the conversation away from what is, genuinely, a very nice and well-meaning video. If we had to advise Caspar, we’d tell him to change thumbnail to something clearer, so that the focus can stay on his conversation with Lyoiso. What do you think of the issue? Let us know in the comments below, or on our Facebook page. You can also watch Caspar’s video right here: