My experience at the pointy-end of YouTube content moderation

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In August I published a video called Trump, QAnon and The Return of Magic. It’s about the increasing popularity of magical thinking, decision-making that’s based entirely on feeling, with few concessions to reality. While I poke fun at these beliefs throughout, the video ultimately is a plea for empathy and patience with people who believe in conspiracy theories like QAnon.

The video was well received and decently popular. It was a staff pick at Vimeo and led to my first assignment with The New York Times and a companion video about what to do about Q.

QAnon has been banned from all platforms. Anons (people who follow Q) are clever and resourceful at exploiting systems to their own ends. And if they can’t post their own vids, they’ll try to suppress videos that are critical of their beliefs. I wasn’t surprised to wake up one morning to an email notifying me that The Return of Magic had been removed from YouTube. Anons might have mass reported it or it might have gotten swept up in a QAnon dragnet. All the same, it had been removed from YouTube. …


2020 was nobody’s favorite year and yet, it was a good year for my endeavors. In a surreal plot twist, the near-decade of work I’ve been doing in conspiracy culture suddenly became highly relevant. The bizarre claims and reasoning I’ve been neck-deep in for years emerged as a dominant force in American culture. I was ready to contribute to the conversation, I did, and I’ve still got plenty more to say.

Here’s everything I produced this year. I think some of my very best work is in this lot.

First and foremost, I finished This is Not a Conspiracy Theory! This brain-busting mega-doc was in production for eight years. You can buy it here right now and it should be appearing on additional platforms in the near future. If you backed the Kickstarter, DVDs and Blu-rays are in the works. You can watch the trailer/opening of This is Not a Conspiracy Theory above. …


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Many of us are plummeting into crowdsourced nightmares about Bill Gates or 5G or the deep state. How can we prevent ourselves from getting lost in the funhouse?

Everything is a remix. Every song, every movie, every meme, every idea, every invention, every discovery. Everything we create is copied, transformed and combined from our culture.

And just like our creations are remixed from the world around us, our beliefs are remixed from what we watch, read and listen to.

And this is a disturbing idea. It’s one thing to remix a song or a story or a product, it’s another to remix… yourself, your identity. It’s like programming yourself… without really knowing it.

The number of paths you can choose from is endless and each one leads to a different version of yourself. …


On the power of endings and closing credits and the perils of auto-play next

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This story is also available in video format on YouTube.

Endings are special. Endings are those final, fleeting moments before a chapter of our lives closes forever. They’re a small window where we acknowledge that a time has passed and will never return.


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This story is also available in video format on YouTube.
https://youtu.be/4Dn8NuiMADY

When people say “diversity” they’re generally referring to three things: race, sex, and sexual orientation—and increasingly, people are referring to gender identification. But diversity is also about something else that it’s important we remember. It’s also about thinking differently, about looking at the world in different ways.

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