Fake online videos on YouTube

Nowadays, more and more people begin to pay attention to aesthetics, they start to care about their appearance, clothes, even the things they use or the decorations in their home. We can see a lot of beautiful pictures on social media, but we all know that they are most likely edited, such as remove acne on the face or brighten up the sky. But have you ever thought that this is an act of deception? There was a report about a mother who found a photo of her daughter on social media being reposted by other users. She discovered that in that photo, her daughter, who had brown eyes, had been photoshopped to blue eyes. Someone re-edited the photo and re-uploaded it. He’ll leave other users wondering and also makes trouble to the little girl’s parents, which is disrespectful behaviour (Chen, 2017).

As we know, the Internet is becoming more and more convenient, and a lot of people use and rely on it. No matter where we go, it’s not hard to see ‘phubbers’ around us, They all share with a common feature which is keep playing with their phones or tablets. Whether is chatting with friends, watching videos or using social media apps, It’s all connected to the Internet. The convenience of the Internet has indirectly increased the spread of those false facts. We all know that YouTube is one of the world’s famous video-sharing website. Every day the number of views on the site is a staggering number, which means that the quality assurance of the videos we see on YouTube is not that high, you can’t imagine how fast the contents or videos are going around on the Internet. This essay on manipulation and deception of online videos is growing. The tools can be easy or advance so no matter who you are, you can edit and upload a video easily. However, the intentions are not nefarious all the time. There are also different kinds of “fake” videos we can see online.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Online Video Technologies

Since long time ago, it is not difficult for people to avoid some spread of fake news. People often can’t wait to share a lot of things not yet confirmed with others and then causing a lot of unnecessary trouble. When people want to break the rumours, they often use photos or videos as evidence. However, with the development of technology, some retouching software, such as Photoshop, are becoming more and more popular, and even photos cannot be truthful proof of the authenticity of messages. We can easily find some fake photos on the Internet, such as changing the colour of eyes or hairs, which shows how easy it is to change a photo into something different. Videos are more difficult to edit than photographs, so in the past few years, they have been more reliable by comparison. But at the same time, editing techniques are also improving. Computer generator imagery (CGI) is one of the applications of computer graphics to create or contribute to images and videos. It has a wide range of uses, most of which are used in visual arts, advertisements, films, television programs and others (Rouse, n.d.). It’s not hard to see many things related to CGI, such as Tik-Tok, a popular mobile application, which also has some continuity with CGI. It is an application that allows users to shoot video, and users can choose the filters or special effects they want.

Deepfake is a technique that use Artificial Intelligence (AI) to synthesize several images. It can fake the characters in the video and then making a fake video that people barely recognize. In 2017, a Reddit user, Deepfakes, uploaded a fake video. In the video, he used Deepfake technology to change the face of female stars from others’ bodies, which seriously affected the reputation of female stars and left viewers wondering whether it was a real video or not. Since then, the technology has received a lot of attention and people called that technology, Deepfake. Deepfakes has also released an app, FakeApp, that makes it easy to make so-called “fake video” that will speed up the technology’s growth and widespread use. These fake videos have unpredictable consequences.

Profit and Fun Driven “Fake” Videos

When you have something want to buy but don’t know the quality of it and whether it is worth it or not. People often go online to find reviews of such items or just go to YouTube to search so-called “Unboxing or Reviewing” videos. Since 2010, YouTube has seen a dramatic 871% increase in the number of unboxing videos uploaded by video creators. Just like the stores or products we can see nowadays, it is gradually growing, popular, and diversified (Cozmiuc, n.d.). Unboxing videos are not just ordinary things. You can see everything you can think of, such as newly adopted pets, cosmetics, food, and even children’s toys. The audience of those videos are not just young people who spend a lot of time online, but young children and the elderly.

What is the unboxing video? As the name implies, whenever we buy something new, we need to open the package before we use it, while some people will film the process of buying and unpacking the box, and also attach the experience of using it, so that audiences who want to buy the same thing can have more suggestions. But are these reviews really their conclusions? We all know every single company want to make its products popular. In addition to advertising, users’ reviews of the products are also a good way to promote. Before buying a product, consumers will make sure it has a good rating. According to a survey by BrightLocal, 84 per cent of people trust online reviews, it was a staggering number (Heinzman, 2019). Companies also realize the influence of a good review on their products. Many companies are now sponsoring popular and influential YouTuber, letting them use their products for free and asking them to advertise their products because they have many followers on YouTube or other social media. But we don’t know if they actually use their products, or if the reviews they give are true. They may just be paid by the company for endorsements, so they have to get good reviews for their products. Some YouTuber even copy reviews from others and then modify them to become their own product reviews and even exaggerate the benefit of products. These are baseless, they are just using their popularity and trust to help product companies cheat consumers. Here, all we need to know is that a lot of good reviews do not necessarily mean that the product is the best. Of course, there was maybe our own problem. For example, cosmetic, just because you see the results of other users are great, doesn’t mean it’s the right product for you.

Photo by @matfelipe on Unsplash

As mentioned earlier, the reason why Tik-Tok video is popular is that it makes it easy for users to make videos, and there are many special effects to choose from, such as enlarging the eyes or making the face look smaller. This is also a kind of cheating. As mentioned before, companies often invite popular youtuber because they have many followers on YouTube or other social media. They will shoot video of some product reviews which may lead those followers to blindly follow their “idols” and ignore the real function of the product. The best way to get a good product should and need reference more than a few user reviews, or ask friends around you, or go directly to a physical store and ask the clerk so that you can better buy products suitable for yourself and really useful. As long as some editing actions are taken, the product will look particularly attractive. Besides, there are also a lot of people shooting some challenging videos, such as do extreme activities, or some magic shows and so on. We don’t know if they actually did it, or if it was just computer tricks. And at this time, there will be a lot of people started to follow and challenge after seeing those challenge videos. They are ignoring the dangers and the possibilities and just try to imitate them. Try to imagine how frightening it would be for someone who has never been trained to ride a high-speed bike, or to engage in actions that could probably hurt him.

Mayhem Driven “ Fake” Videos

In 2018, BuzzFeed published a fake video, in which former US President Barack Obama said something he had never said before in a video, in order to make people realize that this new technology, deepfake, can cause serious danger if not used properly. In that video, Obama is voiced by Jordan Peele. Buzzfeed started by pasting Peele’s mouth to Obama’s after that replaced Obama’s jawline to match with the mouth movements. Buzzfeed made it look like Obama support for Black Panther’s Killmonger and insulted President Trump. The purpose of the video is not to spread “fake news”, but to make a warning about the future of fake news (Whitwam, 2018). At the same time, there are different kind of deepfake video has been uploaded to various online platforms (Eadicicco, 2019). More and more celebrities or some political figures are taken as the main character of the video. Most of them are intended to satirize or denigrate public figures, while some are just intended to entertain the public and make the characters in the video do or say something different. While these videos may be harmless, but at the same time, the development of technology has raised some concerns. People are likely to use technology to spread misinformation or damage the reputation of others.

In addition to celebrities and politicians, people can also be used to bully their friends or classmates. Product companies can also use deepfake’s technology to make their products more attractive and increase sales (Economist, 2019). Once these videos are uploaded on YouTube, many users will see that. Good video content can be well echoed, while misinformation content will only cause more trouble than necessary. And according to experts, the use of deepfake to spread misinformation won’t slow down anytime soon. “Technologically speaking, there is nothing we can do,” said Ali Farhadi, Senior research manager for the computer vision group at the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. “The technology is out there, people can start using it in whatever way they can. “ (Eadicicco, 2019). There is no way to put an end to these behaviours compulsively, that is, it depends on how consumers or audiences themselves can distinguish between right and wrong.


All in all, YouTube can be known as one of the top video sharing websites as everyone can easily access it. As mentioned earlier, there are more and more photos on the Internet that have been edited or modified, and people often distinguish between truth and lies. Once the misinformation spread, the consequences are unimaginable. This implies that it can also be used as one of the media to spread the wrong information to the public. YouTube should start improving its technology and even the uses of analyzing tools in order to prevent those suspicious content to be uploaded to YouTube. As mentioned before, YouTube is already on its way in finding the solution besides taking some relevant measures. However, some special cases cannot be ruled out. For instance, some manufacturers will buy the click- through rate (CTR) to boost the sales volume of their product or even some misleading videos. Ultimately and most importantly, the users must know that the responsibility to prevent the dissemination of these misleading information as well as videos cannot be wholly undertaken by YouTube. In fact, there are several ways to check if the video on YouTube is real or not, you can search the title of the video in Google or other websites, check the transcript and topic at the same time and always look for quality irregularity in the video and do digital sleuthing (Catipon, 2018). That way, all of us can feel more secure and visit YouTube better.

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Bridget here. A digital media designer who always exploring a variety of creative styles. I am passionate about any whimsy and simple cute things.