Warning: some of the comments featured in this article may be upsetting
A YouTube Spotlight video about refugees has become a flashpoint for white nationalism and far-right political views. The video, which follows seven YouTube creators getting to know refugees around the world and “sharing their stories”, has been bombarded with negative and comments and dislikes since it was uploaded on the 20th June.
Here are some of the most-liked comments from the video
Maybe there will be some positive discussion and debate oh wait no never mind:
What’s going on here?
Rather than any kind of standard political discourse, the tone of the top comments (and the vast majority of the rest) on the video are highly aggressive and lean towards white nationalism, xenophobia – and even nazism. At one point the top comment was from an account called ‘Adolf Hitler’:
Aside from overt white supremacist rhetoric, the commenters also seem strangely fixated on the idea that YouTube is deleting their comments and dislikes. It is the right of any channel to delete comments they find unpleasant, so YouTube may well be exercising that right, but deleting dislikes is … not a thing. It is likely that the claim of deleted dislikes is being spread in order to energise people into thinking that this is some kind of ‘battle’, instead of what it really is: a bunch of people yelling at a video.
The attack on the video seems to have been co-ordinated by 4Chan trolls
We found evidence of 4Chan users encouraging trolls to attack the video, which they described as “disgraceful”
There is precedent for this
For whatever reason, YouTube Spotlight is a lightning rod for negativity. It is likely a combination of the highly visible nature of the videos (meaning your comment will be seen by a lot of people) and YouTube’s commitment to making videos about social issues. A video produced for International Women’s Day was, in tragically predictable fashion, also the subject of a lot of hate.
Any positive comments?
It is actually genuinely difficult to find positive comments beneath the video, likely because the section has become such a charged, negative space that people who are in favour of the video are not bothering to comment because they don’t want to have to deal with the replies. All in all it’s definitely not the reception YouTube will have wanted, but as they have promoted conversation around refugees, they likely will not regret the move.