YouTube-Google lends a welcome hand to UFO debunkers

It’s happened to lots of websites: criticism (or just a mention) of a product or a person results in an overreaction with an inappropriate claim of copyright infringement. How can you soundly explain the reasoning for why you think a certain photo is a bear, not a Bigfoot or that a UFO video is a hoax unless you are able to SHOW the actual example in a critique!

Parody or critique use is “fair use” under copyright law. Now, Google (owner of YouTube) has stepped up to support YouTubers who are victims of unfair copyright claims. In a post to their Public Policy blog on November 19, Google states they are offering their legal support to some video producers who have been subject to DMCA takedowns for what amounts to fair use. Their videos will not be removed but will be featured as examples of fair use. Google volunteered to cover the cost of any copyright lawsuits brought against them. Why?

We’re doing this because we recognize that creators can be intimidated by the DMCA’s counter notification process, and the potential for litigation that comes with it. In addition to protecting the individual creator, this program could, over time, create a “demo reel” that will help the YouTube community and copyright owners alike better understand what fair use looks like online and develop best practices as a community.

WordPress previously stood up for their users in a similar aspect. This type of support is really important as bad actors use DMCA intimidation as a dirty, cowardly way to silence their critics. Let’s face it, bloggers and content producers are often small operators who can’t afford court costs or the threat of a lawsuit.

One of the YouTube channels singled out in this new policy is UFOTheater.

UFOTheater

Click to visit their YouTube Channel

We previously featured a link to one of their “Speedebunking” videos in this post where they described the problems with videos from another YouTube channel, SecureTeam10. Thanks to work by UFOTheater and others, SecureTeam10 is well-known as a UFO video hoaxing outfit. By the way, UFOTheater has a handy “UFO Black List” of YouTube channels and web sites producing and promoting UFO hoaxes, similar to our “Beyond Doubtful sources” list of hoax news sites. Check it out!

The New York Times included quotes from UFOTheater administrator, Dean Guiliotis UFO Theater channel had three copyright complaints filed against them starting in June 2014, including one by SecureTeam10 mentioned above. Until the complaints were resolved, the channel was offline. Not fair. In June 2015, Guiliotis was contacted to be one of four YouTubers for this project.

After seeing UFO hoaxes go viral week after week when they’re promoted by British tabloids, particularly the Express, it’s nice to get some notice for UFO Theater’s perspective.

Yes, indeed!

I contacted Guiliotis (known as Constantine on the UFOTheater site) who writes about how UFOs are handled in the media and direct interaction with hoaxers and their fans. He knew of DN and appreciated our site as much as we appreciate what HE does.doubtful_post

Anomalous phenomena deserve investigation. Guiliotis believes UFO hoaxes “are an insult to real research conducted by ordinary citizens who have invested a tremendous amount of time and money trying to discover the true nature of the phenomenon.”

As is clear from the very popular tabloid coverage and online views of these non-events, UFO hoaxes “help foster a media culture focused on “anything for clicks”, cut-and-paste journalism that simply passes bogus stories from one news site to another without anybody taking responsibility to check the source.” Preach, brother. So there is a distinct need for someone to call out BS, since the news media have $ome other agenda.

Who are these hoaxers and why do they do it? Guiliotis thinks that they are attention-seekers who exploit the curiosity of their audience and make money from ads. Some, he says, aspire to be actors and filmmakers but they lack the real skills to make it in the entertainment industry so they “choose the easy path of fraud.”

“The nearest parallel to UFO hoaxing is porn,” Guiliotis says. “The material is easy to produce, the standards are far lower, and the audience is abundant and always curious about seeing something new.”

UFO hoaxers as well as people who sell ghost app photos to the local newspapers, or push Bigfoot hunts, psychic services or alternative cures, have a lot of guts (and serious ethical shortcomings) to deceive on a full-time basis. Guiliotis doesn’t know why hoaxers remain successful. “What I haven’t yet figured out is why people follow hoaxers and subscribe to their YouTube channels. Are they simply good-hearted people unaware of the debunking information? Do they not care? Do they think debunkers are government shills? Hoaxers certainly like to pander to that last idea.”

Sadly, humans will always seek out evidence to support our beliefs and bolster our worldview of choice. No matter how many times a hoax is revealed, they retain hope that the NEXT one will be the real deal.

It seems like a uphill battle to pick through crappy fakery and expose it for the nonsense that it is. SOMEONE has to do it, especially if journalists fail to. MANY regular skeptical bloggers and debunkers do it everyday.

A hundred times more viewers see, share, and perhaps believe, the hoax. The rational view is less popular but more powerful in the end as no UFOs, Bigfoot or ghosts claims have stood up to scrutiny.

We can only do our best to put an informed critical thinking-based view out there, should the viewer choose to consider it. Every once in a while a message or email will come along from someone saying thanks, a little donation gets passed along, or the media [in this case, one of the world’s biggest companies – Google/YouTube] will remind us that they appreciate the effort.

Keep on keepin’ on.

  13 comments for “YouTube-Google lends a welcome hand to UFO debunkers

  1. terry the censor
    November 24, 2015 at 10:48 PM

    Serious UFO buffs complain ceaselessly that their topic is not taken seriously, attributing this attitude to government conspiracies or the mainstream’s fear of “the truth.” But YouTube shows us compelling evidence of the real reason: the larger UFO fandom is populated by the credulous and the paranoid — and opportunists who will provide them whatever they desire.

    Anyway, thanks for pointing out UFO Theater. Looks interesting.

  2. CimPy
    November 25, 2015 at 12:28 AM

    If you dig a bit inside believer population, you will discover they usually do believe to more than one hoax among many, from no man on moon to chemical from airplanes, stepping through perpetual motion machines or any crappy kind of mystical or medical beliefs….

    …on the other hand, it is full of websites hosting any kind of the above, even able to post articles which contradict each other one day after another.

    Debunking is a never ending battle.

  3. November 25, 2015 at 3:20 AM

    Thank you Sharon for this wonderful post.
    Thanks to “Constantine” for his great work against “UFO hoaxers”.

  4. November 25, 2015 at 8:20 AM

    Left unsaid in this post but alive in my thoughts is the idea that there should be a network of these sites. Or, that existing sites should be networked to form a “rational” hub for greater reach. But, there seems little motivation for teamwork and cooperation these days. Individual efforts are great, but (as the Google-YouTube effort showed) I feel that cooperation is the ONLY way we can make a significant impact.

  5. Blargh
    November 25, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    They don’t mention one of the biggest reasons why people are “intimidated by the DMCA’s counter notification process” – namely, that it’s used for doxing. Want to silence a critic? Just file a frivolous DMCA notice (knowing that nobody has ever actually gotten in trouble for doing so) and whatever happens next is a win-win – either the video (or if you file enough of them, their entire channel) gets taken down permanently, or they file a counter notice and you suddenly get hold of all their personal information.

    PS. The NY Times link is broken (there’s a stray ” target=” in the URL).

  6. November 25, 2015 at 10:31 AM

    “I feel that cooperation is the ONLY way we can make a significant impact.”

    I agree 🙂

  7. November 26, 2015 at 11:37 AM

    I’ve had friends get angry when I present information that debunks some meme or video they shared. It’s a difficult line to walk – to offer a rational alternative without sounding like a know-it-all. Some of my friends have decided that some of the best sites – like Snopes – are part of “them.” Let’s face it – no one person will have personal knowledge in very many fields (I’m drifting away from UFOs here) – what a person accepts seems to come down to who they choose to believe. And once they sign on to a given “team” it’s hard to change.

  8. Paddz
    November 30, 2015 at 1:49 AM

    I agree with Blargh above, DMCA notices are used to silence critics. The best recent example has been the whole #gamergate thing with Anita Sarkeesian and her followers filing DMCA notices against anyone who is critical of her video’s. Hopefully now with Google & Youtubes help people can fight back against Sarkeesian.

  9. El Hanon
    November 30, 2015 at 2:42 PM

    Regarding the ethics of hoaxing, it’s not clear (to me) that any hoax can be ethically or morally sound. I’ve always been intrigued by the challenge of creating a hoax, but never could come up with an idea that wasn’t harmful in some way. There seems to be an inherent risk in leading astray, regardless of the intent.

  10. terry the censor
    December 1, 2015 at 3:40 AM

    > I’ve always been intrigued by the challenge of creating a hoax, but never could come up with an idea that wasn’t harmful in some way.\

    Check out David Simpson’s work, Conclusions from Controlled UFO Hoaxes. (I bought it inexpensively a few years ago. It’s a good read.)

    http://www.i-c-r.org.uk/publications/monographarchive.php#M46

    Or, check out a brief summary here, with links to preliminary findings.

    http://mrobsr.blogspot.ca/2012/08/experimental-hoaxing.html

  11. Badd_KungFu
    December 2, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    “$ome other agenda.” love that.

  12. Bryson
    December 5, 2015 at 11:43 AM

    I think some of the “UFO” sightings are real. I also think it is more likely military aircraft. Drone technology has taken the pilot out of the cockpit. This has enabled developing technologies, to do many types of maneuvers that would have been impossible with a person in the cockpit. Think about a helium controlled, saucer shape drone and what kind of crazy maneuvers that could do. I am sure our government has all sorts of cool “ufo”gadgets they use. Our current math & science understandings doesn’t give us much hope of human traveling through space like on the movies, but who’s to prove it is impossible?

  13. UltimateSkeptic
    December 28, 2015 at 6:20 PM

    I understand the interest in trying to artificially replicate a phenomenon. However, intentionally deceiving people is difficult to justify in almost any context, and doing so is particularly harmful where the phenomena in question are so rare or inherently difficult to evidence in the first place.

    It is often said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, and the pop culture-fication of the sciences indeed provides many a thin dish from which they attempt to make deep judgments.

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