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Welcome to How To Cook That I’m Ann
Reardon and if you’re new around here
what we’re looking at is the rapid
dissemination of how-to videos
instructional videos that are well
produced well filmed well edited but the
end results they show may be misleading 🤔
now these videos are being sent out to
millions upon millions of people through
the YouTube and Facebook algorithms and
that’s how we get here to debunking
videos where we actually test those out
so that we can see what the truth is in
those videos. Now some of them quite
honestly anybody could look at and say
well I can tell that that’s a waste of
time or that silly so something like
this first one for example … where it
tells you to take a bag of popcorn cut
it open make a big hole in the side and
then use it like a bowl. Well I think
most people could look at that and go
well is that really something you should
do? And it’s not really gonna make a big
difference you can eat your popcorn
either way. I mean if you do try it you
can’t rip the bag for one you do have to
cut it with scissors because it’s too
hard to rip otherwise I’d rip in the
shops and then you make a big hole in it
like they did in their video and it’s
probably okay if you’re eating it on
your own but if you need to share when
you’re passing it it’s luckily in a
spill. Now the only person that’s good
for is the dog if you don’t happens to
like popcorn 🐶so that leads most people
to thinking it’s just easier to open the
bag from the top and it won’t spill if
you pass it around like that and as an
added bonus if you don’t finish the
whole bag you can seal it over and keep
it fresh. This next video though is a bit
harder to tell so I can look at these
sort of videos because I have a Food
Science degree and go right that’s not
going to work and this is why … other
people don’t know so they try it out and
people are telling me in the comments
they are wasting their money and their
time making these and then thinking that
it was them who couldn’t bake not
knowing that the video wouldn’t work. If
we look at this next example they’re
making a cake in a cup which is a pretty
popular thing nowadays they put in the
flour sugar cocoa powder pinch of salt
canola oil water vanilla and chocolate
chips it’s a lot of ingredients for
these sort of videos usually … stir it
then microwave for 60 seconds. Now stop
I want you to think here use your
critical thinking skills … is there an
ingredient missing there that you would
normally have in a cake? It doesn’t have
any eggs in it you can make an egg free
cake it’s not as nice but you can but
there’s something else that’s pretty
vital that’s missing. I’m going to make
it for you so that you can see what
happens …so I just need to put all the
ingredients that they had in my cup stir
that together and microwave for 60
seconds and when I pull it out it looks
identical after it’s cooked. Now the
reason for that is there is no baking
powder in it
baking powder is what makes a cake rise
and gives it that cakey texture even
brownies have baking powder in them to
give them that sort of slightly airy
nice crumb texture. Let’s see what Dave
thinks of this one … Ooom … hang on a minute … no if I was on my own
I would not eat another spoon!
Now you can make cake with no baking powder but
you’re going to need something else to
add those air bubbles in so you could
use egg whites that’ll whip to a foam
and fold it through like some sponge
cakes have or because this was entitled
“Recipe hacks from professional chefs” … the
only professional pastry chefs I know
that make cakes in the microwave use one
of the cream whippers to whip up that
mixture and add heaps of air into it
before it goes into the microwave. Just
microwave that then take it out and tip
it upside down and you can see there’s a
few little cuts in the bottom of the cup
to allow that steam to escape and then
after a couple of minutes you can take
it off and you’ve got some fresh sponge
cake and that’s usually torn into pieces
and used as a textural element when
plating a places dessert. Anyway let’s
move on to the next one … make meringue
batter pipe it onto a plate they look
quite nice, then microwave for 60 seconds.
now normally if you are making meringue
you wouldn’t microwave it you would put
it in the oven on a slow low oven for
quite a long time to dry it out you
don’t really bake it you more dry it out.
And then they get these nice little
meringues very good okay well we will
try that…
I have my meringue batter which I’m
gonna pipe onto a plate normally as I
said I’d put them in the oven but I’m
going to put them in the microwave for
60 seconds and we get meringues that are
soft and soggy and rubbery and they are
not meringue
texture at all. I’m gonna keep these to
Dave and see if they impress him. Alright some little meringues for you… ah meringues … um are they meant to be like that?
Is this what we’re doing?
I’ll try it … well I can taste the sugar and
the jam but it’s not a meringue. Now that
is it meringue mmm I like that. Okay what
are they doing next? Take sweet potato
and boil it then peel it and then add
enough flour to make a dough roll that
into bowls and bake it. Now see when it’s
baking then it didn’t rise in the oven…
that was true and honest footage because
it wouldn’t rise there’s no yeast in it
there’s nothing to make air bubbles
there’s nothing to make it rise. Oh but
now when they take a bite of it
that bun is soft and spongy and
bread-like and has all those air bubbles in
there how did they get in there? Let me
bake it for you so you can see what it
would really look like. I’ve got two
sweet potatoes boiled and peeled then
I’m adding flour and making that into a
dough and then rolling it into balls and
baking it. It is definitely not bread
like it’s not spongy and light like
their one, it’s more like solid play
dough consistency. Mm-hmm it is pretty
stodgy! Now you can make a sweet potato
bread if you use a normal bread dough
recipe and add a
little bit of sweet potato into that
recipe you can get a quite nice sweet
potato flavored bread that is soft and
airy and yummy a bit like their end shot
looks. So why didn’t they show you that
recipe? How to actually properly make
bread dough and add that in well that’s
because they are producing videos based
on data. They are producing videos for
the algorithm so that they can get
maximum views and make maximum money 💰
they are not producing videos for the
audience, it doesn’t really appear like
they’re concerned whether you can
recreate it or not. They are purely
creating to please the algorithm and the
algorithm likes this sort of thing. Their
data that they’ve analyzed has shown
them that simple recipes that seem very
easy to do but have impressive results
get shares and the algorithm likes that
and so then they get more with more
views and more money. As far as the
platforms are concerned YouTube and
Facebook their main concern is that they
keep people on the platform longer … Above
all the algorithm has two simple goals
one help each viewer find the videos
they want to watch and two get viewers to
keep watching so that they can get more
adverts playing and more money from that
as well. So as money as the driver the
end driver isn’t to look after the
audience the end driver is to look after
the wallets and that’s not necessarily a
good driver. I was always taught when I
grew up to treat others how you want to
be treated so I just can’t make videos
that are instructional how-to videos
that have an impressive end result that
you can’t get to from the steps that I
show. But if you take out I guess that
sort of moral dilemma block that I’ve
got there I could make some quite
fanciful how-to videos that might get
lots of shares but I just can’t do it. It
seems that some companies don’t have a
problem with that though the algorithm
certainly doesn’t check for accuracy of
the content it just promotes what’s
gonna get more views and keep people on
the platform as long as it doesn’t
offend advertisers
because that would affect the money it
seems to be okay. Now my concern here
with the platforms is that genuine
creators are getting pushed off because
not only is there lots of this content
happening it is getting fully promoted
by the algorithm. The algorithm loves it
because that’s what they’re creating for
and then that leaves the genuine
creators who are making proper how-to
content that the audience will be able
to recreate it type content those ones
are getting pushed out because they’re
not playing the game the algorithm wants
them to play. So eventually if they don’t
get enough views don’t stop creating
which a lot of them already have which
is sad I think. Now another example
according to this next video if you
spill red wine 🍷 on your carpet you should
then pour beer 🍺 over it the top and give
it a rub and you have clean dry carpet!
Well I can’t believe I’m saying this
let’s give it a try…
now I don’t even have a proper wine
glass but I’m sure any glass will do
just knock it over and spill it and then
according to the video if I just pour on
some beer it’s gonna work. Now those
bubbles sure do a good job of making it
look less red and now I’ll get the towel
and give it a rub to soak up all the
wine and beer and voila my carpet stinks
of beer and wine and is perfectly clean 😜
I guess if I moved it to a different
spot it would probably be perfectly
clean but definitely not right there and
judging by the number of videos there
are on YouTube called how to get beer
stains off my carpet this was not a good
Interestingly though when the Wall
Street Journal approached the makers of
this video First Media and they asked
them a question about something that a
former employee had said … they’d said in
a video about cleaning a mattress they’d
made this mixture put it on a stain on
the mattress and it didn’t work the
stain was still there but they were
directed just to film a separate area of
the mattress that
they made slightly damp
and that bit was perfectly clean! Now
this is what they said in response to
that … the person from First Media said: it
doesn’t rule out showing a different
final product than the one achieved
during the filming. I don’t know what to
say to that!!
I would rule that out, I would say it’s not okay but
apparently in their books that’s okay.
Well they’re not the only ones who think
that’s okay because obviously
5-minute crafts thinks the same way…
they think it’s more important to please
the algorithm and we can show impressive
results even though that’s not what we
got. Take a look at this next video… they
have some sneakers that are really dirty
and they’re giving them a clean and then
magically they are perfectly white and
they’ve gone up a size! That’s pretty
impressive 🤯I can’t do that! Now you guys
are of course familiar with these
channels that I’ve been doing debunking
videos on and so you know what can be
trusted what can’t be trusted and to
take things with a grain of salt but did
you know that the producers of
5-minute crafts. TheSoul Publishing don’t
just produce a five-minute crafts in
fact they have said that they have more
than 200 channels and I bet that you
don’t know what they are I don’t know
what they all are and not only that but
they produce more than 2,700 videos
every month. Now that’s pretty impressive
but it’s also a bit of a worry if you’re
not sure what sort of content they’re
putting out. Interestingly in the last
couple of weeks there’s been some focus
on this in the US news about some
informational videos they’re put up on
one of their history channels which are
teaching people history and it had some
dubious content in it. Now I am no
history buff. I could probably be easily
fooled by incorrect history videos… I
know my baking but I don’t know my
history so I’m gonna handball 🏉this over
to Dave
because he knows history, he used to be
a journalist and he is very good at this
sort of thing so I’ve asked him to
investigate and find out for me what
is all the fuss about? Who is Soul
Publishing and what is going on?
Yeah it’s actually a bit of a weird situation
and it’s getting weirder all the time as
organizations like this like TheSoul
Publishing get an absolute free ride
to the top of the internet tree thanks
to the YouTube and Facebook algorithms
and that’s getting some powerful people
nervous. Now I know what some of you are saying:
they’re just silly videos there’s not
really a problem with it is there? And
the answer is maybe… you see over the
past few months The Soul Publishing has
actually made some big headlines … it’s
got some people who worked up because
they’re worried about the size of their
growth and they’re looking at some of
the historically inaccurate content
they’ve put out there and they’re asking
what else are these guys up to? “but
they’re now starting to integrate
into that content pro-russian happy talk
fake history material and some oddly sort
of, sort of, subtle anti-US stuff.” So who
are they? Who are these guys? Well let’s
have a look at it. The Soul Publishing are
a Russian company that produces 2700
videos every single month that’s a lot… for
70 Facebook pages and over 200 YouTube
channels JARVIS:”It’s a content farm that’s the
definition of a content farm.” These guys
use cheaper labor in Cyprus to
absolutely pump out content for YouTube
and Facebook which is a surefire way to
get on the good side particularly on
YouTube. 5-minute Crafts and Brightside
took off almost immediately on YouTube
and Facebook … according to their website
within just the first couple of years
they already had 34 Silver play buttons
11 Gold play buttons and 2 Diamond
play buttons for 10 million subscribers
and that was before things got really
big for them! Right at this moment five
minute crafts is sitting on 65 million
subscribers. Now that’s pretty good
growth for just over three years. Late
last year the three biggest media
companies (on YouTube & Facebook) were Disney, Warner Media and
TheSoul Publishing! These guys Pavel Radaev and Marat Mukhametov, please
excuse me if I got that wrong I’m not
trying to be disrespectful but they’re
not exactly household names right?
However they’re absolutely killing it on
YouTube. Here’s a very good article from
Forbes in Russia with the headline:
“A Machine That Prints Money on YouTube: how two
friends from Kazan created the largest
factory of content for social networks”.
We’re talking about Paval and Marat, garnering billions of views and tens of
millions of dollars. Now we don’t know a
lot about Pavel and Marat, they literally
never do interviews that keep a very low
profile but I found this on a Russian
website … it said that Pavel studied
technical cybernetics and computer
science at university but it also lists his
birthday as being in 2011 so I’m not
sure I can vouch for the veracity of
this information. I guess he could be a
child prodigy. Forbes estimates the
annual income for The Soul Publishing is
40 million US dollars! That’s a lot of
Rubles and that’s just advertising
dollars against their videos on YouTube
and Facebook that doesn’t include
branded content that they negotiate
themselves. And the craziest thing is
they show no signs of slowing down… while
other famous Youtubers go up and go down
these guys seem to have the ability to
replicate their success their viral
success over and over and over again
with new channels starting all the time.
Just look at this new channel 123 Go, it started a little over twelve
months ago on January 17, 2019 and it
already has picked up five million subs
and 1.6 billion with a B views and of
course they started the whole family to
go with it … 123 Go Russian, 123 Go Japan, 123 Go Gold etc
In fact the 123 Go brand
garnered 4.2 billion views in its first
year of operation! Wow wow wow! That
brand new little corner of TheSoul
Publishing media empire was actually
bigger than Pewdiepie last year! This is the
person that YouTube rewind told us was
the most viewed creator on the platform in 2019.
It’s almost as if YouTube uses a strange
interpretation of the word “creator” to
hide from people the fact that its
platform is being overtaken by giant
media corporations. Now I know what
you’re thinking in order for
one-two-three-go to have done so well
and especially they must have done some
groundbreaking fantastic content right?
it’s just the worst!
Don’t have a bowl? No
problem you can eat it right out of the
pitcher. 😶 They do these skit videos with
cheesy voiceovers that look and sound a
lot like Troom Troom … and we all know what
that tastes like don’t with kids! What we
do know about the Soul Publishing though
is that they have experimented with a
small number of political ads and this
is where it gets interesting. This is
according to Lawfare blog which is a
respected online service that primarily
deals with national security and
intelligence issues and this is really
interesting because believe it or not
the Pentagon isn’t really that
interested in using Nutella jars to
make wallets … 78 million views! This must
be a great wallet!
Anyway this article found that the Soul
publishing had experimented in running a
small number of political ads in the USA.
They only had six ads and they spent a
really small amount of money that it was
almost like they were experimenting with
the new regulations that Facebook had
brought in surrounding political
advertising. On top of that one of the
souls channels also copped some heat over a
video that predicted that the USA would
not exist in 20 years. The Soul
Publishing later deleted this but thanks
to the power of the interwebs we’ve been
able to track it down for you … “Smart Banana: “The United
States America is a nation of deeply
divided social and political beliefs so
it’s not a surprise that it’s included
in this list … the nation exists as a
collection of states with wildly
polarized partisan populations that are
constantly making headlines in terms of
ideological conflict. If there’s a
country that’s likely to become several
smaller countries it’s the United States.”
And to be honest it’s mostly just
speculative nonsense but it did get up
some people’s noses. In another deleted
video it shows that Russia will be
taking over most of Europe by 2099 … now I
don’t know what the guys are up to here
maybe they’re just having fun maybe they
just been cheeky or maybe they’ve got a
great dream for the motherland I don’t
know. What I do know is that those
political ads and these sort of videos
have got some people freaking out! “How
prepped are we really? How prepped are the
Democratic candidates and the Democratic
Party for contending with a potentially
major foreign based social media
operation…?” The hilarious thing is that
while the West is getting mad about this
there’s also this debate going on a
Russia about US companies like Twitter
and Facebook and Google perverting their
electoral system!
Okay to be fair to The Soul Publishing they
say they are totally non-political. Ksenia
who was their editor-in-chief for some
time she is adamant that the company is
all about
and has no interest in politics. “We
intentionally stay away from politics
because it is too dirty and we are all
too tired of it.” So after all this drama
the Soul Publishing released a statement
recently and it’s pretty long so I’ll
leave a link in the description below.
Their statement says: “TheSoul Publishing’s
content is entertaining fun and amusing
however we acknowledge that on occasion
it has also been factually incorrect.
This self-reflection surfaced last week
when select media outlets attempted to
falsely label us as a foreign propaganda
machine. While this label is absolutely
untrue and honestly hurtful
these same media outlets did accurately
bring to light factual mistakes in a
very small portion of the videos which
we created.” Okay so it goes on it talks
about the Russian video the United
States video it says that look it’s a
tiny percentage of the thousands of
videos that they put out each year and
then it finishes with this: “Lastly the
infiltration of fake foreign political
advertising and propaganda across any
social media platform to any country is
unacceptable. Although disappointing, we
have to address this. To be clear this is
not what The Soul Publishing does did or
will ever do so. So TheSoul publishing says
hey leave us alone we’re just crazy fun
guys with hot glue guns we’re not up to
anything we’re not biased media we’re
not doing propaganda but I’m not sure
that that allays everybody’s fears.
Here’s a question for you then is it
just because it’s foreign media that
we’re suspicious … sort of the
Bond villain idea of the rich guy with a
different accent must be some sort of
super-criminal? This is our moment! I wanted to find out
whether the intelligence community is
genuinely concerned about the rising
influence of these content farms so I
phoned up an old friend of mine Casey
Ellis who started a company called
Bugcrowd in Silicon Valley. As well as
working with multinational companies
Casey also deals with the CIA and other
intelligence agencies and also appeared
before the House Rules Committee
recently to talk about the greatest
cyber risks facing our world. CASEY: “It’s great to chat again mate. Yeah basically what Bugcrowd does is
we’re a community of about 150,000 – 160,000
ethical hackers … so
hackers but the good kind. You think of
them as locksmiths as opposed to
burglars in that space. Are the defense,
legislative and intelligence apparatus
considering social media at large as a
risk? Yeah absolutely.
Those agencies of looking at this as
not just a Russian threat or a North
Korean threat or a threat from some sort
of you know even individual actor not
domestically but you know actually also
including potential domestic use of
social media. Why are people concerned
about a Russian crafting channel?
You know is there anything to
be concerned about or is this just a
case of it’s got a Russian accent so it
must be a Bond supervillain? CASEY: Yeah I mean
I think it starts I think it starts with
the Russian accent and the Bond
supervillain explanation of it you know
that has been and continues in 2020
to be the dominant narrative in the US
around who is doing disinformation so I
think it don’t start there legitimately.
You know in terms of if it’s a real
threat or not I think these sorts of
behaviors around both these sorts of
behaviors around it’s just it’s not it’s
not normal so there’s there’s clearly
some unnatural acceleration that’s going
on and you know regardless of whether
it’s Russian or American or Australian
or our friends in New Zealand doing it
or whoever … that’s cause for
concern and, given the ability
through you know anything that’s on social media to be
confused for truth if enough people
decide that they agree with it, you know
any kind of any kind of channel that
grows in this sort of way is pretty easy
to weaponize if you decide you want to.
And I think that you know stands alone
as not necessarily a cause for concern
but a cause for alertness.” So over to you
in the comments what do you think?
Are content farms something we need to be
worried about do we need to keep an eye
on them or is it just a bit of fun to
scroll through on your phone while you’re waiting for a train. Yes some of the content is a bit
dubious but hey isn’t this the game that
YouTube set up anyway? I mean they reward
what they want a reward.
And don’t forget Google keeps 45
percent of every ad dollar earned so if
The Soul Publishing did in fact make
40 million dollars last year Google
and Facebook made another $35
million on top and that’s 35
million reasons not to change their
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