Jared Holt, Right Wing Watch, October 2017
YouTube is home to a seemingly endless variety of videos that reach all kinds of viewers and is creeping up on TV as the most watched video platform in the United States. But as John Herrman documented in The New York Times Magazine last month, political punditry on YouTube is vastly dominated by right-wing talkers.
Far-right YouTube personalities are largely aware that they are at the epicenter of political talk on the platform, and openly gloat about their dominance.
The punditry faction of YouTube, much like cable news, thrives on collaboration and guest appearances on other pundits’ channels. These right-wing YouTube commentators believe that by bolstering one another they can break through “fake news” mainstream media narratives and spread their own flavor of political analysis.
On YouTube, major right-wing internet personalities such as self-described “New Right journalist” and social media personality Mike Cernovich and Lauren Southern, a former reporter for Rebel Media, a news site that has acted as an alt-right safe space, validate lesser known extremists by promoting them with their platforms, which reach millions of people every month and routinely earn exposure from mainstream press.
This trickle-down effect is not limited to Cernovich. Many other prominent right-wing social media personalities have appeared on programs like “Virtue of the West.” For example, video blogger Tarl Warwick, who is heralded on 4chan and promoted by major video bloggers like Paul Joseph Watson, has guided his audience to openly alt-right media platforms such as Red Ice. Digital pundit Carl Benjamin, known best as “Sargon of Akkad,” has exposed his regular audience of hundreds of thousands of viewers to white nationalists and their hateful ideologies.
This trickle-down exposure effect is a characteristic of all media, but the lack of a gatekeeper on social media has allowed unchecked extremists like McCarthy to harness the power granted by voices such as Cernovich to elevate openly white supremacist alt-right ideologies. Soon after McCarthy scored an interview with Cernovich, she treated her followers to a conversation with Andrew Anglin and Greg Johnson of the neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer. (McCarthy’s interview with Anglin and Johnson was later removed from YouTube and re-uploaded off-site.) [AR Editor’s Note: Greg Johnson is not affiliated with the Daily Stormer, but with Counter-Currents Publishing.]
Tensions Rise, Bloggers Flee As YouTube’s Efforts To Combat Extremism Begin
In early August, YouTube announced it would no longer allow videos on its site that were flagged for “controversial religious or supremacist content” to earn ad revenue and rack up views from the platform’s “recommended videos” feature. Since that announcement, conspiracy theorists, alt-right activists and “new right” internet pundits have expressed outrage.
Videos these social media pundits created that meet YouTube’s criteria for extremism have been placed in a “limited state,” where they exist in a purgatory space without advertising or video recommendations, meaning only a direct link will bring viewers to the video and that the content creator earns no revenue.
Now, extremists and white supremacists ensnared by YouTube’s new policy are threatening to leave YouTube and have begun hosting their videos on alternative sites such as VidMe and BitChute. The migration to video platforms friendly to the alt-right is similar to an alt-right push last year to ditch Twitter and join “Gab.ai” after Twitter banned many white supremacist accounts. These extremist YouTube stars have asked their followers to join them on these new platforms and send them money on Patreon (and alt-right alternative Hatreon) to replace the revenue they were previously earning from YouTube advertising. But as Business Insider reported, this effort has been so-far unsuccessful.
If white supremacist alt-right YouTubers are able to claim that their demonetization was censorship and successfully motivate their audiences to pick up alternative platforms like BitChute and Gab, they will be able to espouse their extremist views in even more isolated echo chambers and increase the risk for radicalization among viewers.
The Extremists Using YouTube To Get Famous
Below is an introduction to a few of the most prominent examples of right-wing extremists who have used YouTube to build large online followings, some with the help of better known right-wing social media personalities.
Black Pigeon Speaks
Black Pigeon Speaks (BPS) is an anonymous YouTube vlogger based in Japan with hundreds of thousands of followers. Shorenstein Center on Media fellow Zach Elexy noted that BPS’s worldview “overlaps with older ideas from many diverse movements and ideologies such as white nationalism, neo-Nazism, anti-Semitism, conservatism, classical liberalism, libertarianism, and Christian conservatism.” BPS does not outwardly identify with any particular political ideology, but frequently reiterates talking points popular among alt-right circles, such as his belief that empowered women destroy civilizations, transgender people are mentally ill, and efforts for diversity erase Western cultures. BPS distributes his videos to hundreds of thousands of subscribers.
Blonde in the Belly of the Beast
Rebecca, who does not share her last name, is a YouTuber based in Seattle who has said the idea that “all cultures are equal” is “garbage.” On her Patreon fundraising page, Rebecca states that she has become “increasingly hostile this last decade as I realized that feminism, Islam, Cultural Marxism and unrestricted tolerance have incrementally eroded our once great society into something unrecognizable.”
Brittany Pettibone is a YouTube personality who refers to herself as an “American nationalist” but has expressed white nationalist views, such as that it’s “our fault” if white people become a minority race.
Recently, Pettibone joined former Rebel Media reporter Lauren Southern in anti-immigrant group Defend Europe’s blundering effort to keep NGO boats full of refugees away from the European coast.
James Allsup is a popular YouTube personality with hundreds of thousands of subscribers who once delivered a speech at a Trump campaign rally. He was spotted alongside open white supremacists at the Unite the Right rally last month, where he told Mediaite that “white people are tired of being told by the cosmopolitan elites that we are the problem.”
Colin Robertson, known online as Millennial Woes, is a Scottish video blogger who speaks openly of his alt-right identity and his concern that the white race will perish unless white people take actions to defend their culture and prevent their race from diversifying.
Paul Ray Ramsey, known as RamZPaul, is an internet personality who identifies as alt-right and white nationalist, and has spoken at multiple events hosted by the white supremacist group American Renaissance. The Southern Poverty Law center has identified Ramsey as a “smiling Nazi” because of his public affiliations with white supremacist figures such as American Renaissance founder Jared Taylor.
Wife with a Purpose
Ayla, who does not publicly share her last name, advocates for “radical traditionalism” on YouTube and her blog. Her blog warns that “feminism, homosexuality, atheism, hedonism, and transgender-ism” have overshadowed the Western world’s “hard work and priorities of family and faith
Ayla, who is Mormon, claimed the Mormon church “turned it’s (sic) back on its white members.”
People Who Enable The Hate
Below is an introduction to some of the most prominent right-wing social media personalities who have used the popularity of their own platforms to host people with even more extreme views, or who have appeared on platforms hosted by extremists. These figures do not regularly use their platforms to personally express particularly racist or extremist ideologies, but frequently host guests or appear on platforms that do with minimal criticism.
Sargon of Akkad
Carl Benjamin, best known as Sargon of Akkad (or “Sargon” for short), is a YouTube personality who rose to fame during the “gamergate” controversy, which ended in death threats being sent to a female video game developer. Benjamin has hundreds of thousands of followers, with whom he shares anti-SJW (social justice warrior) rhetoric, criticizing liberals who express outrage at offensive content. Benjamin considers himself a “classical liberal,” but has expressed his fascination with the racist alt-right and has shared his platform with blatantly alt-right figures.
Stefan Molyneux is an author and vlogger with a large following on YouTube. He is a popular figure among “red-pilled” men’s right activists (“red pilled” is a term from the sci-fi movie The Matrix that refers to recognizing the brutal realities of the world rather than living in blissful ignorance), and identifies himself as a “race realist,” a common euphemism among white supremacists. Although Molyneux’s political views are bent toward the unforgiving Right, his primary involvement in the spread of extremism is his willingness to host openly alt-right extremists, providing these figures a big step toward online relevancy.
Tarl Warwick, or “Styx,” was an early arrival to YouTube in 2007 and now posts daily political commentary videos in which he espouses nationalistic views to his audience of more than 170,000 subscribers.
Warwick has appeared on blatantly alt-right YouTube channels with Red Ice hosts and Tara McCarthy. He does not denounce ethno-nationalism, but does not claim to personally believe in a white ethno-state. Recently, Warwick has been seen boosting his profile on Infowars and Stefan Molyneux’s channel.