Posts Tagged ‘fake’

New changes to Youtube make it HARDER to spot fake views

I used to absolutely love youtube.  It was such a fun, simple, efficient, user-friendly website.  But Google just couldn’t leave well enough alone and bit by bit they’ve turned the site into a cluttered, spam-filled clusterf*ck.  It seems like youtube only exists so that Google can force people sign up for Google + pages that no one will actually use.  Have you looked at a youtube channel page lately?  The new designs are ugly, boring and confusing.  I just don’t understand what that company is doing to that site.  It seems like they take one step forward and then they take two steps back.  Case in Point:  Last year Google “confiscated” billions of fake views that big name media companies had purchased so that their videos and channels would seem more popular.  I thought this was a great move since fake views, likes and comments have really ruined Youtube’s social credibility.  But for some reason, Google just made some changes that will make it harder for users to spot fake youtube views.

In 2009, Youtube added “insight data” options to every video on the site.  Unless you turned off the “statistics” option, viewers could see lots of information about where your views came from.  Here’s a screen shot of what that used to look like.


Those stats came from a video that was created by a spammer who was trying to get people to sign up for some get-rich-quick scheme.  Most of the views on his video were almost certainly purchased.  If you buy phony youtube views, you’re not actually getting real “views.”  Instead your paying for hits on your video that have been disguised as views.  After Youtube started the Insight program, view-sellers had to start covering their tracks by routing those hits through plausible referral sites like facebook and Twitter.  It seems that the easiest way to cover the source of fake views is to make it seem like the views came from a “mobile device.”  According to these stats, more than 1.5 million people watched this spammer’s video from a mobile device.  A ridiculously high number of views from a mobile device was a huge red flag and it almost always meant that all of those “mobile device” views were fake.  As I said, you could turn these public stats off but if you did, that would also be a red flag since it meant you had something to hide.

So as I explained in my post, How to Spot Fake Youtube Views, it was sort of easy to tell which members were buying phony views.  But for reasons that defy explanation, Google has removed some of the Insight Data options.  The public no longer gets to see where a video’s views came from.  Scroll up and look at that screen shot I posted.  All that stuff about Views from a Mobile Device and Views from Facebook are gone.

The loss of this data sucks but it’s not all bad news.  Google did enhance one aspect of the Insight reports.  Users can now see WHEN a video got its views.  Check this out:


That’s the Statistics Data for a video that was recently entered into Arpin Van Line’s “Movin’ With Arpin” video contest.  The winner of that contest was determined by youtube views and likes.  They guy who submitted this particular entry has (allegedly) won a small fortune by cheating in other online video contests.  If you look at the “Daily” data for that video you can plainly see that it got a huge avalanche of views out of no where.  Then after a second bump, the video’s view count totally flat-lined.  That (probably) means this guy bought a bunch of fake views and likes and the spike and the bump represent the days his orders were filled.

Oh but you wanna hear something funny?  This guy still lost even though he (allegedly) cheated his ass off!  Another contestant (seems to have) bought twice as many “likes” and wound up winning.  So there’s a lesson to be learned here.  NEVER ENTER A VIDEO CONTEST IF YOUTUBE LIKES OR VIEWS HELP DETERMINE THE WINNERS.  You can buy thousands of fake views and likes on sites like Fiverr for just a few bucks and it is simply impossible for a sponsor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a contestant’s views or likes are fake.  So just do yourself a favor and stay out of those contests.


Youtube “confiscates” 2 billion bogus views

On December 20th, hundreds of youtube users woke to find that google had left a big lump of coal in their digital stockings.  Over 2 Billion “fake” youtube views had suddenly been removed from view counts and scores of videos were pulled for violating the site’s Terms of Use.  According to The Daily Dot, some of the channels that were hit the hardest belong to some big name musicians, youtube stars, studios and record labels.  Sony/BMG was the biggest victim of the purge.  Their channel’s cumulative view count dropped by 850 million and now stands at just 2.3 million.  How was Sony able to fake 850 million views?  It was easy; they just bought them.  Right now anyone can go to a site like Fiverr and order hundreds of likes or thousands of views for just 5 bucks.  Here’s an example of what a bogus view “gig” looks like.

10,000 views for $5 sounds like a great deal…until your video gets pulled

I’ve never been exactly sure how all these Fiverr sellers are able to generate fake views but I guess it’s done with bots.  Views are determined by which IP addresses access a video.  So these bots need to somehow switch IPs between each play.  If you have such a program it’s an easy way to make a lot of cash.  Just look at that gig I posted.  29 people are currently waiting for their order to filled.  So that seller will make 145 bucks and all he has to do is run his bot 29 times.

For years google stood on the sidelines and watched users inflate their view counts using a variety of nefarious means but now it sounds like they’ve decided to try and fix this problem.  And this is GREAT news for video contest filmmakers.  Fake views and likes have totally wrecked every video contest that is run on youtube.  If views and likes affect a video’s score, cheaters will be able to win that contest easily.  Why should anyone bother to get legitimate views and likes if they can just pay $5 and win in a landslide?  In late 2011 I was in a contest sponsored by the microjob website DoUpTo.com; $15,000 was at stake and the finalists were determined by Youtube views.  Things got ugly really fast and a few videos were able to achieve massive view counts in just a few days.  These videos weren’t getting any likes or comments so it was obvious the views were phony.  I contacted the guy running the contest and explained flat out how people were cheating.  But it seemed like the guy knew exactly what was going on.  He basically said we understand and unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to stop this.  We encourage you to do whatever it takes if you want to make the finals.  Why would DoUpTo actually encourage contestants to cheat?  Maybe because their site is a lot like Fiverr and plenty of their users are in the view-selling business.

Again, it sounds like a great deal until your channel gets suspended

So buying views is really cheap and really easy.  But now finally it looks these transactions are no longer 100% risk free.  Apparently it’s easy for youtube to detect these bots and now if you buy some views you might get caught and your video will be pulled.  And if you rack up multiple violations your entire channel can be shut down.  So if your video gets pulled in the middle of a video contest you are totally screwed.  What are you going to do, tell the sponsor that you need to re-upload your entry because you got busted by youtube?  So when it comes to buying fake youtube views and likes, remember kids, just say NO.  It’s not worth the risk.  And hey just between you and me, if you need to get a lot of youtube views really fast, just do what I always do…I pay youtube to promote my video!  It costs more than 5 bucks but you can get thousands of real views from real humans and there is zero chance you’re going to be disqualified for cheating or have your video zapped into oblivion.

If you’d like more details about youtube’s Promoted Videos Program you can check out this article I wrote last year: How to Get Unlimited, Real Youtube Views

Putting together a cheap-o Halloween make-up kit

Back in grade school and high school I was one of those kids who’s “thing” was “making movies.”  My friends and I always had some kind of video project in the works but of course we did most of our filming in the summer.  And like most 14 year old screenwriters, we were mainly interested in stuff like monsters, zombies, aliens, serial killers and drunken clowns. (ok, maybe that last one was just me.)  We were shooting our mini-epics long before google or amazon so if we ran out of clown makeup or fake blood in July, we were pretty much screwed.  So every year I really looked forward to the week after Halloween since all the stores would sell their make-up, costumes and props for 50, 60 or even 90% off.  Come November first I would stock up on a year’s supply of stuff like this:

So realistic!

Unfortunately, the days of the “post-halloween” sale are pretty much gone.  In fact, I’ve noticed that some big stores start pulling their Halloween stuff off the shelves BEFORE October 31st!  The reason is that the Christmas season now officially begins on November 1st.  So the masks and costumes need to disappear fast to make room for all the fake trees.

That sucks for several reasons but the good news is that a lot of stores now start reducing the prices on their Halloween merchandise before Halloween. I almost never use effects make-up in my video contest entries so I haven’t stocked up on cheap Halloween make up in many years.  But recently I was in JoAnn Fabrics buying some hot glue sticks or something when I saw a small plastic box with different sized slots in it.

Click the image to order one of these things

It was called an “Art Bin” but for some reason, when I saw it I immediately thought “this would be perfect for storing tubes of Halloween make up!”  It turns out that for the last 15 years or so, I had been subconsciously waiting for a solution to a problem I had when I was a kid.  You see, I always stored my Halloween makeup in a ziplock bag.  And I can still vividly remember how gross that bag got.  I’d open a thing of white makeup, use it and then toss it back in the bag.  So in no time the inside of the bag would be covered in cheap, greasy makeup.

So even though I have almost zero use for effects makeup, I had to buy that box and fill it with $1.00 tubes of fake blood, green and blue makeup and black nail polish.  When it comes to stuff like this, it’s better to have it and not need it rather than need it and not have it.  And actually, there are a lot of things you can do with the kind of cheap Halloween makeup you can buy at target or walmart.  For example, you could do what a lot of filmmakers have done and shoot your own Twilight or Zombie-themed contest entry!  And a little purple and brown makeup can make a pretty realistic bruise or black eye.  Oh you know what else is good to have on hand? A can of white hair spray.  It’s great for giving scientist or politician characters a little extra pizazz.  However you probably want to avoid featuring realistic blood, gore or injuries in MOST of your video contest entries.  I say “most” of your entries because every so often, I’ll see a video contest that kind of has a hardcore edge to it.  So if a contest is kind of edgy, you could push the envelope a bit and include a little violence just for the shock value.

If you actually try and put together a low-budget, effects makeup kit of your own, there are a few other items you should include.  If you see spirit gum and spirit gum remover in the Halloween isle, grab some.  That stuff can come in really handy.  And while your at it you might as well buy a few fake mustaches.  Why?  Because fake mustaches are freaking funny, that’s why.  To finish off your kit you’ll want to add some Q-tips, makeup sponges, and wet naps.  And or of course, you can’t forget the toothpicks!  Toothpicks are how the pros scratch themselves so that their makeup won’t smear.  But I bet you already knew that.

If you’re like me, once your $7 makeup kit is complete, you’ll look at it, feel proud for about five seconds and then you’ll shove the box into the back of your closet.  I doubt I’ll actually use any of the stuff in my kit but next summer if I find myself inspired to shoot a video contest entry about a mime or a vampire or a sports fan with a painted face, I’ll be good to go.

Did this angry comment come from the head of the Taxslayer contest!?

Yesterday’s entry about the ugly story behind the cancellation of the 2010 Taxslayer.com video contest seems to have gotten the attention of someone at Taxslayer.com.  On Tuesday afternoon, someone who called themselves “Sam Jenkins” left a suspiciously angry comment for me in the “Taxslayer.com lies to filmmakers, cancels video contest 20 days after submission deadline” discussion.  To leave a comment on a wordpress blog you need to leave an e-mail address.  To see if “Sam Jenkins” was a real person, I e-mailed him at the address he left.  The e-mail bounced back; the address  was fake.  Not a good sign.  Here’s the comment “Sam” left:

Author : Sam Jenkins


Dude…get over it. You are right, as you proved, it is nearly impossible to create a quality commercial in 9 days. Your entry was awful. You would have lost anyways. Grow up, you should be ashamed of yourself. On another note I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy and his company slap a slander suit on you so fast your head spins.

Wow “Sam,” why so serious?? And if you think I suck so hard, why the heck do you read my blog?  I’m eager to address the points that “Sam” made and I’ll do so at the end of this post. But first I want to try and answer the question of who “Sam Jenkins” is.  I’ve been running this blog for 9 months and I don’t think I have EVER gotten an angry comment that didn’t come from someone with a personal axe to grind. I’ve covered a lot of people’s crappy behavior and bad sportsmanship here on VCN and sometimes those people find the posts about them and freak out.  They want to attack me but don’t want to make themselves look worse.  So they post under a fake name.   I think I’ve gotten pretty good at spotting fake names though.  For instance, I can’t help but wonder if maybe the name “Sam Jenkins” is a reference to legendary (and also fake) Internet nutball, Leroy Jenkins.

Sam Jenkins: Artist's Rendering

Sam Jenkins: Artist's Rendering

Over time, I’ve honed the art of figuring out who anonymous posters are in to a science.  After a few minutes of research and a few seconds of deduction, I can say that I am 99% sure that the person who posted as “Sam Jenkins” is actually The Assistant Director of Taxslayer.com’s Growth Division and the head of the Taxslayer.com video contest, DANIEL EUBANKS.  Mr. Eubanks is the person I have been TRYING to deal with at Taxslayer.com and he is the person that twice told me me that this year’s contest would “definitely not” be canceled.  Yesterday’s post was mostly about how he lied to me and how rude he’s been to me these past few days.  So besides the obvious reason that Mr. Eubanks doesn’t like me (he hung up on me on Monday as soon as I said my name!) I have actual evidence and facts to support my theory that Mr. Eubanks is our hater.  Note: Because I don’t want to be slapped so hard with a slander suit that my head spins, I should point out that I have no concrete evidence that the above comment came from anyone at Taxslayer…though I do have a whole lot of circumstantial evidence. I am not saying that Daniel Eubanks did this for sure.  But my personal opinion is that he did.

I used a very awesome piece of code in my website that lets me know a lot of information about the people who visit here.  Mostly I just see a bunch of cities and IP addresses when I check my logs.  But if you work for a company that is big enough that it names its network, I get to see the name of your company.  For instance, yesterday I got a visitor from “The British Museum!”

Taxslayer.com’s parent company is called “Rhodes Financial Services” and is located in Augusta, Georgia.  That’s the company that Mr. Eubanks works for.

When I got the announcement about the taxslayer contest being canceled, I e-mailed Mr. Eubanks and expressed my disappointment.  I sent him a link to this post from VCN.  It’s a list of all the 2010 Taxslayer entries.  I told him that I found 18 entries and that it seemed like there were more than enough to choose from.  After I sent Mr. Eubanks that link, I checked my web logs.  Sure enough, someone from “Rhodes financial Services” in Augusta, Georgia had visited my site.  I labeled this person’s IP address so that I could recognize them every time they visited.  This visitor took a special interest in my first post about the cancellation of the taxslayer contest.  They checked the discussion on and off all day long for several days, presumably to see what new comments had been added.

By last Friday, Mr. Eubanks had stopped responding to my e-mails and refused to take my calls.  I was really offended by this so I e-mailed him again and told him that I knew he was still interested in what I had to say because I could tell from my site’s traffic logs that he was checking Videocontestnews.com several times a day.

This is a very important part of the story.

So I checked my traffic logs on Tuesday afternoon and I noticed that the visitor from Rhodes Financial Services had been staying away from the site and hadn’t seen my LATEST Taxslayer post….the one where I explain how rudely this Daniel Eubanks guy had been treating me.

Then, at about 2:40 Tuesday afternoon, I got the angry comment from “Sam Jenkins.”  So I checked my web stats to see where the comment came from.  “Sam Jenkins” posted his comment from a Droid smart phone.  Posts from smart phones are untraceable because they list the cell phone provider’s IP address and the HQ could be anywhere.  Though I couldn’t tell where “Sam” was posting from, I could see how and when he had visited my site in the past.

The results of my search speak for themselves.  Here’s what how things went down:

The Droid Phone: Practically designed for writing quick, anonymous comments

The Droid Phone: Practically designed for writing quick, anonymous comments

The visitor from Rhodes Financial hadn’t checked the site all day on Tuesday and didn’t see the new, more explicit taxslayer post. My theory is that now that Mr. Eubanks knew I could tell when he visited my site, he was intentionally staying away.  But I think he couldn’t resist checking it again so he tried to be sneaky and checked the site with his phone.  At 2:41pm, someone (let’s call him Droid Guy) checked the site from a Droid phone.  6 minutes later, Droid Guy clicked the “view comments” button on the new post.   4 minutes after that, the visitor from Rhodes financial visits the site for the first time all day.  (maybe he couldn’t see it too well on his tiny phone and really wanted to study what I had to say?)  The Rhodes visitor clicked around like a mad man for the next 30 MINUTES.

In the middle of his visit, the Droid Guy returns for a moment.  Droid guy is back at 3:17 and goes directly to the comment section and leaves his rant.  He then disappears.  His brief visit occurs at exactly the same time that the visitor from Rhodes Financial has the site up on his computer screen.

I’m just going out on a limb here…but it seems very possible that Mr. Eubanks remembered that if he left a comment from his office computer I would know it came from him because of his IP address.  I think he didn’t want me to be able to link the “Sam Jenkins” comment to him so he thought he’d be a smart guy and whip out his smart phone so that he could post anonymously.  Again…that’s just a theory.

Here is part of a screenshot of my web logs.  Be aware that “taxslayer” is the label I gave to Rhodes Financial’s IP address so I could spot it when it popped up.  I also added the big red arrow to indicate when the Droid Guy left his comment.  Notice he was not on the site right before or right after he said his piece but the visitor from Rhodes certainly was.


Click to see a larger version you can actually read

I immediately suspected that “Sam Jenkins” could really be Daniel Eubanks of Taxslayer.com so I held the comment for moderation.  When trying to smoke out a hater, this is a great tactic.  It causes the person to check your site over and over as they wait to see if you are going to let their comment go public.  Droid Guy visited the site again later in the day but again, I have to assume the text was too small to read on a phone.  Two minutes later, the visitor from Rhodes was back and the Droid Guy was gone.  The Rhodes visitor checked the comment section of the taxslayer post all day long…as if hey were waiting to see if Droid Guy’s comment was going to be made public.  Rhodes guy stopped checking the site at about 5pm but Droid Guy checked it once or twice Tuesday night…like you know, maybe the person at Rhodes went home for the day and didn’t want me to know his home IP address so he checked the site from his phone.  First thing this morning though, the Rhodes visitor was back like crazy and has already visited the site a bunch of times today to see what comments have been posted.  The Droid guy seems to be gone though.  This is really suspicious because haters don’t just check the site 3 or 4 times and go away.  They act more like the visitor from Rhodes and check the site compulsively.

There’s one other big reason that I suspect that Daniel Eubanks is our anonymous hater; As far as I can see, the Droid Guy never visited VCN before yesterday yet he knew an awful lot about the videos I submitted to the taxslayer contest.  He said my entry was “awful” and that I wouldn’t have won anyway.  I didn’t provide links to my entries in my 2 recent blog entries about the cancellation of the contest.  So when could Droid guy have seen my videos?  I know that he never visited VCN before Tuesday so he must have watched my entry on another computer at another time.   And how did he know that I wouldn’t have won?  It almost sounds like Droid Guy had seen ALL the entries.

Like I said, I want to respond to a few of the points that “Sam” made.  So here’s his comment again:

Author : Sam Jenkins


Dude…get over it. You are right, as you proved, it is nearly impossible to create a quality commercial in 9 days. Your entry was awful. You would have lost anyways. Grow up, you should be ashamed of yourself. On another note I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy and his company slap a slander suit on you so fast your head spins.

And now, my humble responses:

1.  It was not my intention to make a tv-quality entry.  I thought I was supposed to focus on IDEAS and not production values.  Taxslayer made it sound like they planned to re-shoot the winning ad, just like they did last year.

2.  Why should I be ashamed of myself?  Because I have the nerve to stand up for myself and not let people get away with wasting my time and my money?

3.  How do you know I would have lost?  Did you see ALL of the entries?  If so, where?  Like I said, according to my calculations, I had a 1 in 4.5 chance of winning 1st or 2nd place.  Seems like I had a really decent shot of winning.

4. I actually would have been totally fine with not winning.  I also would have accepted the fact that the contest had to be canceled if Mr. Eubanks hadn’t told me that the contest would NOT be canceled.  Losing is just part of the video contest game.  I entered the contest because Mr. Eubanks promised me a CHANCE of winning.  The only thing I was entitled to was that CHANCE but Taxslayer chose not to fulfill their employee’s guarantee to me so I’m going to fight to be compensated for my time and expenses.  We had an agreement and taxslayer refused to hold up their end of that agreement.  That’s why I’m upset.  It doesn’t matter who would have won, what matters is that NO ONE won.

5.  Regarding your prediction that Taxslayer will slap a “slander suit on me so fast my head spins;” you should invest in a dictionary because you have no idea what “slander” is.  First of all, Slander is the spoken form of defamation, Libel is the written one.  That mix-up aside, you still don’t understand the general principle.  Or maybe you do and you’re just trying to scare me into shutting up.  But just so you know, for something to be libelous it has to be both negative and UNTRUE.  If you want to start suing people for saying negative but true things you might as well just rip up the constitution.

Everything I have said in my Taxslayer posts have been true.  And when I was posting THEORIES about what I thought happened I never portrayed those theories as facts.  I have a constitutionally protected first amendment right to criticize, share theories and publish my opinions.  For example, my OPINION is that “Sam Jenkins” is really Daniel Eubanks and if I’m right, he better not dare try and intimidate me with empty legal threats again.

A few hours ago I e-mailed Mr. Eubanks and told him that I suspected that he was the one who left the angry “Sam Jenkins” comment from a Droid phone.  I told him that if he wanted to deny the allegation, he should let me know it wasn’t him.  So far, I haven’t heard back from him.

If I DO find any credible evidence that there is no connection between Droid Guy, “Sam Jenkins” and Daniel Eubanks I will immediately pull this post and make a public apology and correction.  Who knows?  Maybe it will turn out that Mr. Eubanks was sitting in his office reading my taxslayer posts and he called a co-worker in to see what some stupid blogger was saying about him.  And then maybe the co-worker got so mad that he decided to stick up for his colleague and so he whipped out his smart phone, went straight to my website, banged out an angry response and then left the site.  Then he stood over Mr. Eubanks should for then next 20 minutes as he waited for his comment to appear on the office computer’s screen.  Of course, that theory doesn’t really explain the earlier visits from Droid Guy but hey, I’m just brainstorming here.

If you’ve actually managed to read this entire, complicated story, you’re probably wondering why I would go through so much trouble just to try and prove that some random guy is a jerk.  Well the thing is, Daniel Eubanks isn’t just some random internet hater.  He was the man in charge of what WAS one of the biggest and best known video contests on the web.  I’m a filmmaker that entered that contest and I’m even a paying customer of Taxslayer.com.  If Mr. Eubanks did leave the “Sam Jenkins” commment, it’s a really disturbing development.  Assuming Mr. Eubanks is “Sam Jenkins,” here is a list of things he has done to me, a contestant in the contest he ran:

1.  He twice told me, in writing, that the 2010 taxslayer contest would “NOT” be canceled but then canceled the contest anyway.

2.  He refuses to acknowledge that he actually told me the contest was not going to be canceled.

3.  He refuses to answer my questions about the cancellation of the contest.

4. He gave me his phone # so we could talk but he refuses to pick up when I call.

5.  He has been ignoring my e-mails and voicemails since last week.

6.  The one time I called him from an anonymous # he picked up.  I told him who I was and he hung up on me.

7.  He (allegedly) tried to harass and intimidate me using a fake name.

8.  He (alegedly) mocked my entries and told me they were “awful.”

9.  He (allegedly) told me to “Grow Up” and that I should be ashamed of myself (for telling people he sucks at running contests, I guess)

10. He (allegedly) tried to get me to shut up by warning me that he and his company might file an unconstitutional law suit against me.

When you see all that stuff listed out like that you have to wonder how Taxslayer could possibly keep this guy employed after this.  This guy seems to have gone way, way over the line here.  He took what should have been a business matter and made it personal and now he seems tobe attacking me just for telling the truth.  But is it my fault that he gave me a written and signed guarantee about the contest?  Is it my fault he lied when he told me the contest wouldn’t be canceled?  Is it my fault that the guy didn’t even care enough to TRY and talk to me?  Should I just have shrugged my shoulders, said “oh well, I got screwed” and walked away from this?  For God’s sake, the guy has known that  I run a Video Contest blog since the first time we talked.  What the hell did he think would happen if he treated me like crap!?  Did he expect me NOT to mention it on the site?

Again, I don’t want to be sued so for the record, if ANYONE sees something in any of my posts that they feel is untrue they should e-mail me and if the concern is valid I will remove the information toot sweet.

MAY 18th UPDATE:  It’s been about 6 days since I e-mailed a link to this post to the head of the taxslayer contest, Daniel Eubanks.  I told him that I believed the comment in question came from him but that if I was wrong, he should let me know and I would set the record straight.  I told him that if he did not deny that he made the comment, I would take that to mean that he is the person behind it.  My web stats tell me that I’m still getting hits from Taxslayer HQ all the time, but so far Daniel Eubanks has not denied leaving the “sam jenkins” comment.

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