- A YouTube channel called Coffee Break released a video accusing prominent science channel Kurzgesagt of being untrustworthy and released one-sided emails of his conversations with its founder, Philipp Dettmer.
- Coffee Break says Dettmer deleted videos off the Kurzgesagt channel that had misinformation in them, but only after he knew Coffee break was working on a project that would criticize one video.
- Dettmer responded to questions in an AMA on Reddit explaining his side of the story and allowed for the full emails to be released.
Popular YouTube channel Kurzgesagt has been accused of being untrustworthy by smaller YouTuber who was preparing to release a video critical of Kurzgesagts “Addiction” video.
Kurzgesagt is a well-known science channel with over 8 million subscribers. The channel is most known for its“In a Nutshell” videos, which take complex topics and break them down into more digestible pieces.
On Tuesday, a YouTuber named Stephen, from the channel Coffee Break, posted a video where he breaks down an experience he had communicating with Philipp Dettmer, Kurzgesagt’s founder.
Stephen starts his video with the question, “Can you trust Kurzgesagt videos?” to which he responded, “No. And, ironically, the reason you can’t trust them is that this video exists at all.”
He goes on to say he is working on a series about the “pop-science” genre, and how the simplification of complicated topics can lead to misinformation.
He specifically sites a TED Talk by Johann Hari called “Everything you know about addiction is wrong,” and Kurzgesagt’s 2015 adaptation of the TED Talk called “Addiction.”
Stephen said he reached out to both Hari and Dettmer to talk about the video and ask questions about possible errors in it. He said Dettmer responded almost immediately and requested to not be quoted. As a result, Stephen only shares his half of the emails in his video and gives paraphrased versions of Dettmer’s emails.
After the Coffee Break video was uploaded, Dettmer posted an “Ask Me Anything” post on Kurzgesagt’s subreddit, so people could ask him questions regarding the video.
In the thread, Dettmer authorized the release of his half of the emails, which were uploaded into an imgur file almost immediately by Stephen.
Stephen shows his first email to Dettmer, saying that he emailed him on Feb. 2 with “some tough questions about the video on Addiction that Kurzgesagt did.”
He continued that because the video was one of Kurzgesagt’s most popular, he was “worried that some of the major claims in that video are vastly simplified, if not outright incorrect.”
Stephen also asked: “Did Kurzgesagt conduct an independent fact-checking of Johann Hari’s book before agreeing to this?”
Stephen then paraphrases Dettmer’s first email in response: “Essentially he’s not thrilled about the interview or video idea, he was worried that the video might be a call out. He basically says ‘hey the addiction video wasn’t perfect, but I feel it was good enough.'”
However, in the actual email, Dettmer directly says he would “not make a video like that today for obvious reasons.” He acknowledged that “it’s not difficult to find criqitue of Hari’s work nowadays,” but said it was not common when the video was made.
Dettmer then says that he has received “countless messages” from people who told him the video helped them, and so he could not bring himself to take it down. He concludes his email by saying while addiction is a complicated topic, he believes the video can exist as a helpful opinion.
It’s also important to note the criticisms of Hari. Hari’s argument is that addiction is largely psychological, and not chemical, a theory that has received pushed back from many experts.
The main thing to note here is a question posed by Stephen in his original email, where he askes if Dettmer was aware of a public scandal Hari had that “threw his credibility in question.”
The scandal Dettmer is referring to was from back in 2011, when Hari was accused of plagiarizing other journalists work, and then anonymously editing Wikipedia pages to discredit people who criticized him.
Stephen then describes the next two email interactions with Dettmer, saying he shared his idea and some criticism. He said that Dettmer responded by saying he was busy traveling, and told him to wait until early March for an interview.
However, there are important parts of these emails that Stephen does not talk about in the video.
In Stephen’s email, he does explain his project, but he also challenges Dettmer’s claim that criticisms of Hari’s work were not available at the time, writing: “There are problems with Hari’s work, not just looking back from 2015, but holes in his research that were easily available at the time.”
Dettmer responded in his email that he did confront Hari about the critique, but that he was not comfortable discussing it with Stephen, because he felt Stephen’s project was a gotcha video.
After showing the emails, Stephen launches into the main accusations he’s making:
“And March 3 was the day I found what Philipp had been really busy doing, too busy to answer my questions. He had been busy making my video, for me, for his channel. He even did me the favor and interviewed himself by answering all my questions.”
Stephen goes on to show clips from the video and how they correspond with the questions in his emails. He then goes on to show clips from the video where it talks about how oversimplification can be distorting and provides a brief clip where Kurzgesagt says they deleted the addiction video.
However, in Kurzgesagt’s full video, they actually go in depth as to how they conduct research and how that system has evolved over the years.
They say that some older videos do not live up to current standards and that they have been trying to figure out what to do with them for a while. The video then says they were not proud of the video about addiction and another about refugees, and so they removed them.
Stephen then accuses Dettmer of preempting his own research and stalling the interview so he could get ahead of the criticism. He adds that it is unfair for larger creators to steal content from smaller creators and goes on to say that there is no way this could be a coincidence.
However, Dettmer refutes this in the AMA.
When asked if he removed the addiction video because of the Coffee Break video, Dettmer says that he had been working on script regarding the addiction video and removing it for two years, but did not want to tell Stephon because he believed his video was going to be a “hostile takedown.”
Finally, Stephen talks about Johann Hari.
He shows a clip from “Can You Trust Kurzgesagt Videos?” which said: “The addiction video was based on only one source that has amassed a lot of criticism over the years, that addiction is purely physiological and based on the life circumstances of the individual.”
Stephen explains that Hari does not believe that addiction is purely psychological and that that idea was only a simplification that came from condensing his book into a 15 minute TED Talk.
He says if you look at Hari’s book and any interview’s he’s done, he does not actually hold such a simplified view and assets that Dettmer never read Hari’s book.
Stephen then plays a clip of a phone conversation he had with Hari, where he essentially says no one believes that addiction is purely environmental or purely chemical, and accuses Dettmer of scapegoating Hari and portraying him as crazy.
Dettmer refuted this as well on the AMA. When asked if he did read Hari’s book, Dettmer wrote: “Of course I did. After reading it, I very enthusiastically emailed him and asked him to collaborate on the video.”
Dettmer also noted that Hari wrote most of the script, “Which is the reason why it has such a big overlap with his Ted Talk.”
The Two Email’s Not Discussed
There were also two emails included in the imgur file that Stephen did not talk about in his video.
In the last of Stephen’s emails that he released, he says that he spoke to Hari, and that his story changed considerably after their conversation.
That conversation might explain why Stephen starts defending Hari’s work later in the video. Stephen also does not discuss the controversies he claimed discredit Hari and prove that his work could be considered “false information.” A fact that is worth noting because the discussion of the factual basis of Hari’s work was a huge talking point in the emails between Stephen and Dettmer.
The final email was actually from Dettmer on Feb. 21. He asked Stephen to send him questions and tells him he can talk to him the next week.
Stephen never responded to Dettmer’s email asking him for questions and trying to schedule the interview.
This fact was pointed out in a Reddit thread and Stephen responded by saying the only day he could have done the interview was March 1. He says that day he was busy polishing a video and before that he was on vacation.
The timeline here is odd because one of Stephen’s biggest complaints is that he was never given an interview before Kurzgesagt’s video was released.
However, it seems like he was given an interview, and he was just busy.
It is also clear that he never even sent the questions to Dettmer, which could indicate the interview was not actually a top priority for him.
Finally, Stephen concludes the video by saying you can only trust Kurzgesagt to do what’s best for himself and his channel and to make him look good, even if it means taking other people’s research, saying: “Simply put, I don’t think you can trust him to do the right thing when no one’s watching.”
Rogue Rocket reached out to Dettmer for comment and he responded with the following statement:
I didn’t stall him with malice in mind, but I also didn’t motivate him to work faster. Of
See what others are saying: (Johann Hari TED Talk) (Kurzgesagt “Addiction”) (Reddit AMA)
Influencer Accused of Staging Motorcycle Crash for Photoshoot
- Social media influencer Tiffany Mitchell is catching heat for posting photos to Instagram that show her having seemingly fallen off of a motorcycle after misjudging a curve.
- Many are accusing her of staging the accident for a photo-op and are saying the photos were sponsored because one of them prominently displays a Smartwater bottle.
- Mitchell has denied both claims and said she didn’t know her friend was taking the photos but added that she was happy the fallout of her accident was documented.
The Post of the Crash
A social media influencer is denying claims that she faked a motorcycle crash and used it as an opportunity to take photos for Instagram.
In late July, Tiffany Mitchell posted a series of photos from her crash which she says happened in Leipers Fork just outside of Nashville. The post quickly drew the ire of many who accused it of looking too perfect.
In the post, Mitchell described the accident as a “scary, magical series of events.” She explained she misjudged a curve, hitting the pavement as her bike slid into the grass. She also said she had been wearing a helmet.
“I was scared, and relieved, and so thankful I could move all my joints and that I never lost consciousness,” Mitchell wrote. “My friends were at my side immediately, an ambulance arrived within 10 minutes (CRAZY fast), and sweet strangers loaded my bike onto their trailer to haul it back to my house for me. I was in a haze the entire time.”
One of the photos shows a man tending to her, a helmet placed on the side of the road, and another motorcycle propped up in the background just out of focus.
Another photo shows minor scrapes over the tattoo on her shoulder as that same man holds onto her.
In another, critics point to a prominently displayed bottle of Smartwater, which many suggested may have been part of a sponsorship.
Many people flooded Mitchell’s personal Instagram and other social media platforms like Reddit to speculate about the authenticity of the photos.
“They’re lit like a paperback romance cover, and the water just appears between shots with the label in crystal-clear focus,” one Reddit user wrote. “What, did her friend sneak over and pose the bottle then scamper back out of frame? NO oil on the ground. NO damaged tire. Give me an effing break.”
Why her helmet in the first picture doesn’t look like any of the helmets from the accident pictures ?— Laetitia (@lerandombadger) August 19, 2019
Trying to count how many parts of this story are lies is like trying to guess how many gumballs are in the giant jar at the carnival. No-one TRULY knows, but we all know it is ALOT.— King Codez (@CodezKing) August 20, 2019
Others called her out for seemingly glamorizing her accident.
“We had a very close family friend die in a motorcycle accident,” a Reddit user wrote. “A lot of people have. This is fucking gross. The fact that it’s clearly fake makes it grosser, because they had to come up with it, execute it, then post it. So many opportunities to not make a terrible decision.”
In her post, Mitchell also mentioned losing her boyfriend in a motorcycle accident three years ago.
“It brought back a lot of memories from 3 years ago when Kappel died,” she wrote, “and I in utter devastation had to decide how to move through it all, and whether it was worth it to ever get on a bike again.”
Nonetheless, many online criticized her for what they said was making light of the type of accident that killed her boyfriend.
“What the fuck?!?!?!!!!! Her bf dies in a motorcycle accident but apparently when she has an accident (if she really did) it’s an opportunity to take pics and get sponsored?!” another Redditor posted. “NOT EVERYTHING IN LIFE IS A PHOTO OPP Jesus Christ.”
Mitchell Responds to Backlash
Following the backlash, Mitchell then archived her post. The move also came after Buzzfeed News reached out to her for comment. She reportedly asked Buzzfeed not to run the story because it would “draw negative attention,” but it ultimately ran the story anyway.
Monday, Mitchell posted an Instagram story talking about the article and the negative reaction she’s seen since it was published.
“I’m really sad that what I shared inspired anything negative at all,” she said. “You know, I was really, really touched by those moments that happened.”
She continued, saying she didn’t know her friend had been taking pictures after she crashed. She also said her friend had not started taking photos until after checking to make sure Mitchell was okay.
Later, when Mitchell’s friend showed her the photos, Mitchell said she wasn’t mad they had been taken.
“She would have never done anything with those photos before showing me,” Mitchell said, “and when she showed me, I was so grateful for them. You know, she didn’t know. Maybe, I would have been offended. ‘How could you take—’ That’s not how I felt. When she showed me the photos, I was genuinely grateful because having a moment that was that intense documented, I appreciate that.”
Regarding the Smartwater bottle controversy, she said her post was not sponsored and someone had actually just brought it to her. Smartwater has not made any public comments on the matter.
Mitchell said she was shocked and had a lot of emotions running through her mind, but ultimately, said she wanted to share the moment.
“I archived the post because if there is a lot of attention brought to my feed because of that, I don’t want to leave that really vulnerable thing that I care a lot about that I shared open to any kind of hatred,” she said. “You know, I want to protect that. I want to protect that moment.”
See what others are saying: (INSIDER) (Independent) (Cosmopolitan)
Instagram Couple Apologizes for Disrespectful Post at Bali Temple
- Czech Instagram influencers Sabina Dolezalova and Zdenek Sloukat apologized after posting a video that showed Slouka splashing Dolezalova’s butt with holy water at the Beji Temple in Bali’s Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.
- The post received backlash after it was re-uploaded by a Balinese senator, with many calling the couple’s actions disrespectful.
- Slouka and Dolezalova later posted a second video apologizing for the incident and said they did not realize the water and the temple were holy.
Backlash in Bali
Two influencers apologized after receiving backlash for posting a video of themselves playing with holy water at a temple in Bali.
The now-deleted video was posted by Czech fitness influencers Sabina Dolezalova and Zdenek Sloukat at a temple in Bali’s Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary in Ubud.
In the video, Dolezalova bent over and lifted her skirt while Slouka splashed holy water on her butt.
The couple came under fire for the video after Balinese senator Arya Wedakarna reuploaded the video on his Instagram account saying it was “insensitive” and that the influencers were “harassing” the temple.
Many people reacted to the post, condemning the couple for disrespecting Bali’s culture and calling for them to be kicked out of the country.
“This is completely insensitive to local culture,” one user wrote. “Before you travel to another country you should read up on local culture and educate yourself.”
Dolezalova and Slouka posted a video apologizing for the stunt, which Wedakarna also shared on his Instagram along with a screenshot of a private message Dolezalova sent him apologizing for the incident.
“We are so sorry about the video from yesterday,” Slouka said in the video. “We dishonored the holy temple and holy water in Ubud and we didn’t know it. So we are so sorry about what happened and apologize to you.”
“We had no idea that was some holy water or that there is a holy temple so we really didn’t want to do anything bad,” Dolezalova added. “We are so truly sorry and we hope you gonna forgive us, and now we are just finding what we can do to fix it.”
But the outrage did not end there. Some responded to the apology video saying that it seemed insincere or fake.
Others who spoke Czech pointed out that the influencers must have known it was holy water because the person filming the video told them it was.
“They knew very well it was holy water the woman filming this says it out and loud,” one user wrote.
“You apologized just because you got caught,” another user said.
After the video went viral, Bali’s governor Wayan Koster announced that the government would do more to protect holy sites from tourists.
“In the future, if there are tourists behaving like that we should just send them home, they are being disorderly coming to Bali,” he said in a statement. “We will give them this warning.”
According to The Telegraph, the couple tried to make amends with the people of Bali by participating in “a ritual purification ceremony where they wore traditional clothes and touched pressed hands to their heads as a show of respect.”
Wedakarna argued that the ritual should be mandatory for tourists who publicly disrespect Bali in the future.
“They made a mistake sullying our island,” he told reporters. “Anyone who violates our traditions must take part in a purification ritual.”
Dolezalova’s manager also told the Czech site Sezman that the situation had been resolved.
“Sabina and her friends are continuing on holiday as planned,” he said. “A voluntary contribution was proposed to the local village. Whatever amount Sabina and her friends give, it is up to them and purely voluntary.”
See what others are saying: (The Independent) (VICE) (Yahoo News)
Creators File Lawsuit Against YouTube Over Alleged LGBTQ+ Discrimination
- A group of LGBTQ+ creators have filed a lawsuit against YouTube and Google claiming that YouTube flags, suppresses, and demonetizes LGBTQ+ videos.
- The lawsuit claims YouTube restricts content featuring certain LGBTQ+ tags such as “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” or “transgender.”
- YouTube has denied such claims in the past but has not responded specifically to the lawsuit.
The Lawsuit Against YouTube and Google
Several LGBTQ+ creators are suing YouTube and its parent company Google for allegedly discriminating against LGBTQ+ content on YouTube.
Among the accusations, the creators claim YouTube restricts recommendations, demonetizes, and alters the thumbnails of LGBTQ+ videos.
Creators Bria Kam and Chrissy Chambers of BriaAndChrissy, Amp Somers of Watts The Safeword, Chase Ross, Linsday Amer, Chris Knight, Celso Dulay, and Cameron Stiehl all filed the class-action lawsuit Tuesday in San Jose, California.
“Our LGBTQ+ content is being demonetized, restricted, and not sent out to viewers which has highly affected our ability to reach the community we strongly want to help,” Chambers said in a video posted the same day.
In the suit, Kam and Chambers argue that their channel previously earned about $3,500 each month but now only generates about $400-500 monthly.
After posting a music video called “Face Your Fears,” Kam and Chambers said the video was categorized under “restricted mode.” The video was filmed as a dedication to the 2016 Orlando Pulse Shooting, and it features Bria and Chrissy kissing in front of anti-gay protesters.
“They flagged our pride,” YouTuber Chase Ross said. “They did not allow us to buy ads. They restricted us, they demonetized us, and they did not stand up for us.”
Last year, Ross, who often posts about trans issues, accused YouTube of age-gating his videos for including the word “transgender” in the titles.
“Growing up, I was in a very religious household,” said Amp Somers of the sex education channel Watts The Safeword. “I didn’t get any sort of gay education, alone queer education, that applied to me and the sex I was going to have. I created content on the internet that I wish I would have had growing up, but we’re finding it harder and harder to create content on this platform. Google and YouTube continue to censor us and tell us that we’re not breaking any rules but that our content is still not allowed and going to be restricted on this platform.”
YouTube Content Selection and Enforcement
The creators also claim YouTube is restricting LGBTQ+ content featuring words like “gay,” “lesbian,” “bisexual,” “transgender,” or “queer.” Notably, YouTube does not publish its algorithm, which can make it hard to tell if your content is actually being suppressed.
While a YouTube spokesperson replied with “no comment” to the lawsuit, YouTube has denied similar claims in the past. Last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki pushed back against claims that videos are demonetized for falling under LGBTQ+ categories.
In an interview with vlogger Alfie Deyes, she said, “We do not automatically demonetize LGBTQ content… We work incredibly hard to make sure that our systems are fair.”
She also said YouTube does not have a policy to demonetize a video if it has a certain word in the title, and said both the process for recommending videos and determining ads are independent of each other.
On Wednesday morning, after news of the lawsuit spread, Wojcicki posted Deyes’ Aug. 4 video on Twitter, though it’s unclear if the timing is related.
Another part of the lawsuit says because YouTube is the largest video streaming website, it holds a near-monopoly.
The suit states YouTube “used their monopoly power over content regulation to selectively apply their rules and restrictions in a manner that allowed them to gain an unfair advantage to profit from their own content to the detriment of its consumers.”
The creators use the argument to claim YouTube “goes easy” on some of its biggest creators and cite content from James Charles, an issue that has also been raised in the past with YouTubers like Logan Paul and Felix Kjellberg, also known as PewDiePie.
“[YouTube] continue[s] to restrain the innocuous travel videos of Watts The Safeword under its Restricted Mode, age restrictions, and demonetization rules and practices, while allowing objectively and sexually explicit content that Google/YouTube sponsor and/or profit from to run unrestricted on the YouTube platform,” the suit alleges.
It continues by citing examples from a recent video on the beauty YouTuber’s channel showing him wearing a G-string and spanking a woman’s bare butt while at Coachella.
Even though Watts The Safeword features more mature content, the channel says it personally applies the restricted mode filter to its more sexually explicit videos.
According to the Washington Post, “eleven current and past moderators, who have worked on the front lines of content decisions, believe that popular creators often get special treatment in the form of looser interpretations of YouTube’s guidelines prohibiting demeaning speech, bullying and other forms of graphic content.”
YouTube has also denied those claims.
Following this lawsuit, many online said they were standing with the creators suing YouTube and Google.
Some on Twitter even shared their own experiences trying to generate LGBTQ+ content on YouTube.
my LGBTQ videos on youtube have been restricted and/or demonetized from day 1, causing me to lose the watch time i needed. when i earned the amount of watch time back, youtube REFUSED to reinstate my monetization, and i couldnt justify making LGBTQ+ content anymore.— 𝙖𝙪𝙩𝙪𝙢𝙣 🔜 colossalcon east (@autumnhause) August 14, 2019