- 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)
Twitch Sues Two Users for Creating Hate Raid Bots That Targeted Black and LGBTQ+ Streamers
Twitch said the two users were so relentless in their racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ+ hate raids that they forced some creators to stop streaming.
Twitch Sues Two Users
Twitch has filed a lawsuit against two of its users for allegedly creating hate raid bots that targeted Black and LGBTQ+ streamers with racist, sexist, and anti-LGBTQ+ content.
The users named in the lawsuit, filed late Thursday, are CruzzControl and CreatineOverdose. While their legal names are currently unknown, Twitch said it traced one to the Netherlands and the other to Austria. It added that it will amend the suit to include their real names once it learns them.
Twitch said both users began using bots to flood streamers’ chats with hate-filled messages in August. Despite multiple suspensions and bans, Twitch said the two continually created new accounts to continue their hate raid crusades.
According to the lawsuit, CruzzControl operated nearly 3,000 bots that were used to spam the discriminatory and harassing content. Meanwhile, CreatineOverdose used “their bot software to demonstrate how it could be used to spam Twitch channels with racial slurs, graphic descriptions of violence against minorities, and claims that the hate raiders are the KKK.”
Twitch didn’t just stop at accusations of hateful actions and rule-breaking. It even claimed the two users were so forceful in their efforts to attack creators that they pressured some to stop streaming altogether, “eliminating an important source of revenue for them.”
Twitch Users Demand Change
Twitch creators have long complained about hate raids, but a number of small creators began organizing a cohesive movement in early August following what appeared to be a growing number of hate raids.
Many demanded that Twitch address the situation by holding round tables with affected creators and enabling different features that would give them the ability to shut down incoming raids. Critics also called on the platform to provide detailed information about how it plans to protect creators moving forward. While Twitch did promise to implement fixes, a large portion of users weren’t satisfied with its messaging.
The bulk of users’ efforts culminated on Sep. 1 when various creators participated in #ADayOffTwitch, a one-day walkout designed to reduce traffic on the platform.
Despite Twitch’s lawsuit, a number of users have still said they won’t be completely satisfied with the platform’s actions until more is accomplished. For now, their primary goal is to have Twitch directly outline what steps it’s taking to prevent hate raids.
In its lawsuit, Twitch does make a cursory mention of several changes it said it’s introduced recently, including “implementing stricter identity controls with accounts, machine learning algorithms to detect bot accounts that are used to engage in harmful chat, and augmenting the banned word list.”
“Twitch mobilized its communications staff to address the community harm flowing from the hate raids and assured its community that it was taking proactive measures to stop them,” it added. “Twitch also worked with impacted streamers to educate them on moderation toolkits for their chats and solicited and responded to streamers’ and users’ comments and concerns.”
See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (BuzzFeed News) (Kotaku)
Streamers Protest Racist and Homophobic Hate Raids With #ADayOffTwitch
The creators participating in the walkout want Twitch to implement policies that actively combat hate-raiding.
Numerous Twitch streamers went dark on the platform Wednesday as part of a movement called #ADayOffTwitch, which participants have described as a way to stand “in solidarity with marginalized creators under attack by botting & hate-raids.”
The protest was organized last month after a smaller creator by the name of RekItRaven, who is Black and uses they/them pronouns, had their streams flooded with racist messages twice.
“This channel now belongs to the KKK,” dozens of users commented during the streams.
For RekItRaven, those messages also came at a particularly disparaging time, as they had just finished talking about how several traumatic experiences had shaped their life.
Following the stream, RekItRaven began using #TwitchDoBetter, saying, “I love Twitch. I love the community that I built there… BUT THAT DOES NOT MEAN I HAVE TO ACCEPT BEING TREATED LIKE SHIT ON THE PLATFORM.”
Soon, RekItRaven’s concerns gained traction, prompting a number of other smaller creators to step forward with their experiences about being on the receiving end of hate-raids. Eventually, that morphed into Tuesday’s #ADayOffTwitch protest, which has been spearheaded by RekItRaven and two other small creators known as ShineyPen and Lucia Everblack.
The protesters are demanding that Twitch make several concessions moving forward. Those demands include the platform:
- Holding round-tables with affected creators to assist with the creation of tools that combat abuse on the platform.
- Enabling creators to select the account age for prospective chatters.
- Allowing creators the ability to deny incoming raids.
- Removing the ability to attach more than three Twitch accounts to one email address since hate-raiders can currently use a single email to register unlimited accounts.
- Providing transparency into the actions being taken to protect creators, including giving a timeframe for that implementation.
For its part, Twitch has already promised to implement fixes, saying on Aug. 20, “Hate spam attacks are the result of highly motivated bad actors, and do not have a simple fix.”
“We’ve been building channel-level ban evasion detection and account improvements to combat this malicious behavior for months,” it added. “However, as we work on solutions, bad actors work in parallel to find ways around them—which is why we can’t always share details.”
However, for now, creators must still deal with potentially being hate-raided while streaming, which is why their anger toward Twitch has persisted.
Do Small Creators Have a Big Enough Voice?
The protest led by mostly smaller creators is also almost entirely composed of them. Because of this, the vacuum of silence from large creators, who hold a disproportionate amount of influence on the platform, has also led to frustration.
Many have pointed out that large creators will publicly show their support for minority causes during events such as Black History Month and Pride Month, but smaller users said they feel abandoned when those same creators don’t also actively participate in causes that directly combat minority hate.
“Nobody gives a fuck if you take the day off. Nobody knows who you are That’s the truth,” streamer Asmongold, who has 2.4 million followers on Twitch, on a stream last month. “If people got together and they said, we’re all going to collectively do it, I would do it in a heartbeat. Right, I would do it. I’ve got no problem because I do believe in power in numbers, I absolutely do, which is why I don’t believe in this. Like, you can’t get a bunch of 20 Andy’s together and think that you’re going to do anything. Nobody gives a fuck.”
That said, some influential streamers have added their voices to #ADayOff Twitch. For example, both Rhymestyle and Meg Turney participated in Tuesday’s protest; however, both creators have hundreds of thousands of more followers outside of Twitch rather than on it.
A number of smaller creators have also argued that it’s not feasible for them to take a day off even though they want to support the cause. For example, taking a day off could jeopardize them keeping their affiliate or partner status, which could, in turn, jeopardize their channels.
Meanwhile, others have argued that outcomes such as those are exactly what hate-raiders want to achieve, so logging off Twitch for a day could be playing into their hands.
Others still said they wanted to participate but are contractually obligated to stream every day either because of sponsorships or other deals.
CallMeCarson Announces Return to Streaming Following Grooming Allegations
In his return announcement, the YouTuber promised to donate 100% of his proceeds to charity in hopes that he can “turn a negative situation with a lot of eyes on it into something positive.”
Popular “Minecraft” YouTuber and streamer Carson King, known online as CallMeCarson, announced Wednesday that he will return to streaming following accusations he faced earlier this year of grooming and sexting underage fans.
In a video titled “Moving Forward,” King said he would begin streaming on Twitch again on Sept. 1 as part of what he is calling a “Year of Charity.” For the next 12 months, King plans to donate 100% of his proceeds to different charities, selecting a new one each month.
“Before you start looking at this as an excuse to sweep things under the rug, that’s not what this is,” he explained in his video. “I’m doing this to turn a negative situation with a lot of eyes on it into something positive that can help a lot of people.”
King did not address the details of the allegations that have been levied against him. Instead, he said he wanted to focus on what he can do in the future.
“I’ve learned a lot this past year,” King said. “I’m not seeking forgiveness nor am I looking to make excuses.”
Grooming Allegations Made Against CallMeCarson
In January, members of his YouTube group The Lunch Club told “DramaAlert” that in March of 2020, King had admitted to grooming underage fans. They claimed to not know many details but stated that his confession ultimately led to the group disbanding. One former member, known as “Slimecicle,” even said he reported Carson to authorities.
The victims themselves ended up coming forward online. One, who identified herself as Sam, said Carson sent her sexually suggestive messages in 2019 when he was 19 and she was 17. She also posted Discord messages the two exchanged where King said he could not “control” himself and asked when she turned 18.
Another girl, who went by CopiiCatt, said King sent her nude photos when she was 17 and he was 20.
Following this, King took a hiatus online, and now, his return has been met with mixed reactions.
His “Moving Forward” video has been viewed over 1.2 million times, receiving 252,000 likes and just 14,000 dislikes.
On Twitter, however, more people expressed frustration with his return and were upset by the swell of support for King despite the accusations against him.