• UFO Theater in The New York Times, courtesy of YouTube

    November 19, 2015: Today’s New York Times tech policy column featured an article on YouTube’s new Fair Use Initiative which seeks to defend creators from unwarranted copyright infringement complaints. All the attention has been rather strange, but a good kind of strange.

    It all started back in September 2014 (see Copyright Theater) when I received a copyright notice initiated by Secureteam 10. Then immediately after two more were registered by LookNowTV, who I had embarrassed in both the first two episodes. Until these were resolved my channel was taken offline, and UFO Theater temporarily moved to Vimeo. While on Vimeo I posted Speedebunking: Mister UFO/Mister Enigma, which led to this exchange with the hoaxer himself, Robert Simmons of La Crosse, Wisconsin. He had the video temporarily removed from Vimeo. When UFO Theater was up and running on YouTube again he tried the same nuisance tactic there in November 2014. Neither of us had any idea what he would set in motion.

    It wasn’t until June of 2015 that I was contacted by YouTube (I’m sure their inaction on Simmons’ complaint was driving him mad), explaining that they had received the notice from Mister Enigma but “selected one of your videos as a candidate for a new effort that protects some of the very best examples of ‘fair use‘ from copyright takedown requests.” I assumed this meant I would be one of perhaps a few dozen creators chosen. I was absolutely shocked when I discovered I was one of only four in the entirety of YouTube. I imagine the odds are something akin to winning the lottery. I’ve probably not received a tenth of the copyright grief and harassment endured by the other three producers, but there I am, the only one quoted in the article, and a big ol’ flattering screen capture. Maybe I’m the only one Ms. Kang could reach for the story.

    After seeing UFO hoaxes go viral week after week when they’re promoted by British tabloids, particularly the Express, it’s nice to get some notice for UFO Theater’s perspective. More episodes coming soon.

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  • What kind of person subscribes to one of those hoax UFO channels, anyway?

    Wonder no longer. This comment from “SuperSurprise,” a Thirdphaseofmoon fan, recently appeared on the Hoaxplosion! YouTube page. Before you attempt to read, it may help to temporarily abandon everything you hold dear about spelling, punctuation, paragraphs, and reason. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    “[UFO Theater is] delusional. Only 851 subs in a channel over 1 1/2 year old ch=Epic failure. Ouch! This guy is very jealous. Period. Fact or Fake, there is about 500-5000 popular of supernatural channels on utube. If every jealous nobody like him decided to launch false flags out of pure jealousy, the false flagger would lose his/her utube ch. Not only that, he know’s nothing about how youtub really works. Those big channels he’s soooo jealous of happen to have an appointed utube account manager. This means,  a real person at the real utube helping them 1 on 1 when they need it. This must burn him up more. It’s a fact, Youtube works with these people when some jealous bitter person comes along and tries to launch an attack on the popular utube channel.It happens often enough.The false attacks can even come in false DMCA attacks on their content. CHannels like 3potm last for a reason. They are great entertianment love then or hate them. Utube is all about entertianment. Sorry mainstream do not find debunking videos entertianing.Do some research. Youtube backs these channels.There would be no utube if jealous bitter failures(There is a ton look at the comments here) came along and tried to get populer channels and trending viral viral vids pulled.It happens 24/7. So many jealous bums out there crying. The have nots like him are very bitter about it.This is just a jealous man talking to his peers of other jealous ufo nuts with failed utube channelsand failed dreams. He is telling people to flag videos for what he does not like on utube. If 1 user flags 3pom videos enough because they are so called fakes to him/her, the user filing the false flags over and over will in fact get his/her utube account terminated for false flagging. Yes, youtube will see the flagging as a false flag for many reasons.It’s entertianment. Get a grip, it’s utube! These channels also have videos in worldwide media which means they have media deals too. Sorry 2 burst your bubble guys. No one important cares accept a handful of ufo nuts with failed utube channels.BTW, for a conpiracy theory.  I have no affiliation with these channels. I just watch and call it like i see it.The only thing he really blew up is his own jealous feelings.I feel bad for the guy. He’s angry about it. You can hear it in his voice. He’s another commercial 4 these big ufo channels. They’ll only grow and become larger with all the free promotion they get from the 100’s of little guys channels being jealous about them on loads of little man utube channels crying and serving as a commercial for them…That’s my rant. Here’s a box of tissues!”

    See, folks? UFOlogy has nothing to do with UFOs. It’s “entertianment”!

    You’re just jealous.

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  • Hoaxplosion! Thirdphaseofmoon Blows Up

    Thirdphaseofmoon steadily craps out crimes against common sense and integrity in the form of YouTube videos. They may occasionally get shared by third-rate news sites looking to boost numbers, but they can’t escape their own mediocrity. We watch, analyze, and turn crap into gold- with FIRE. Enjoy.

     

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  • Speedebunking: Swiss Alps UFO

    In addition to debunking, this details a bit of the process for discovering the source of a video, and some interesting things you can find along the way. This hoax happened to pop up at the right time for me to be able to respond quickly. The fact that it was picked up by a few news sites is part of a sad trend: us UFO freaks are not really taken seriously for the subject we’re interested in, yet we’re seen as a target market and a way to draw more attention. Web sites have picked up on the fact that we’ll watch just about anything UFO-related on a larger news site because the association with the larger entity, makes it seem legit. Unfortunately these sites have chosen the absolute worst material to put on display, hoaxes from Secureteam 10, Third Phase of Moon and Mister Enigma.

    There really is no excuse or purpose to this except to generate traffic. Some of the comments from the 07TV YouTube page for this hoax include:

    “Fake, fake, fake.”

    “THIS IS GROUP IS LIKE THIRD PHASE OF THE MOON IT’S ALL FAKE…”

    “Stop wasting everyone’s time. You’ve made these stupid hoax videos before, and they get debunked every time. FUCK OFF.”

    News sites are certainly not making their UFO video choices based on credibility or reputation. I’ll cover this more in another episode.

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  • Mister Enigma Hoax Dupes News Sites Worldwide

    A UFO hoax created by Mister Enigma, aka Robert Simmons of Wisconsin, was posted to YouTube on June 21, 2015 and subsequently featured by some larger news sites beginning June 25.

    How this happened is difficult to understand; it featured nothing remarkable. It’s the type of thing you’ve seen from hoaxers before: footage from the ISS with a few tiny specks added in to make it look as if objects were exiting the Earth’s atmosphere. This was followed by the typical NASA “loss of signal” title card, suggesting we were seeing something forbidden. It’s a scenario so old, I’m surprised hoaxers still use it. In this case, it worked to spectacular effect from Mister Enigma’s point of view, as it’s been taken up by news sites worldwide.

    As best I can determine, patient zero is Huffingtonpost.co.uk, who ran with the story on the 25th. Other news sites followed suit without doing the simplest bit of research, such as Googling “Mister Enigma hoax.” I guess it’s one of those oddball stories that’s too good to check.

    This episode is a good illustration of what an echo chamber online news has become. If one of the larger news sites makes an error, that mistake will be repeated ad nauseam, possibly in perpetuity. I have been posting comments on every site pointing out this particular error, even tweeting directly to the articles’ authors, but I’ve not seen a correction yet.

    Also repeated ad nauseam: my advice to check your sources. Not the source of the news story, but of the video it’s based on. Five minutes of effort by Huffingtonpost.co.uk could have averted this nonsense. Viral mistakes of this kind are an insult and a disservice to people who invest the time and equipment into recording real sightings, but even worse, the media attention directly supports the creation of more hoaxes.

    If you need any background on Mister Enigma, check these links:

    Speedebunking: Mister UFO/Mister Enigma

    Bipolar Hoaxer: Mister Enigma Responds

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  • Mars Madness

    I have to admit I was stunned at the number of insane pareidolia-driven Mars channels on YouTube, yet after some thought, it makes sense. It’s incredibly easy to spot something unusual among millions of rock formations in thousands of photos, doctor it up with Photoshop and create a glorified slide show. It’s hoaxing for the completely lazy and talentless.

    I can’t tell if people are engaged with the content because they consider it a serious analysis or if they’re simply curious to find out how ridiculous the assertions can get. Hopefully I’ll get some feedback from fans of the Mars slideshows.

    The hoaxers would have us believe that the Martian landscape is strewn with random objects having no plausible explanation for their placement or existence. I wondered what such a nutty environment would look like, so we now have Mars Madness as a reference.

    There’s so much new crazy each week it could be a full time job.

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  • Swedish Snowmobile UFO: The Final Analysis

    I’m still working on a full-er episode, but this clip has come up so many times in the last couple of years, and it’s such an unusual case that I had to address it. Even though Hoaxkiller debunked the Swedish UFO soon after its release, it still continues to make the rounds. I employ a couple of extra steps to seal the deal.

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  • Section 51 takes a bizarre turn, redefines itself as a “web series”, asks for money

    Section 51 Taliban attackThanks to an alert from Isaac Koi, Youtube hoax channel Section 51 seems to have shifted its stance on what exactly it’s trying to accomplish. Previously Section 51 was content to let people believe they were putting forth footage of real events– note the UFO Attacks Taliban Camp clip that got a lot of play online. At least one of their videos had “REAL!!!” at the end of the title, but this has since disappeared. Now, Section 51 seems to have redefined itself. In the About area of the channel, we now see this:

    “Section 51” is an independent reality web-series that premiered on August 2013 on Youtube, and ran for two seasons. With a total of 17 million views and 30.000 subscribers, “Section 51” is one of the best UFO channels on Youtube. Based on reality video footage and sometimes VFX, the concept of the show is : Hoax or Real ?…

    The concept of the show is “Hoax or Real.” What does that even mean? Is the “web series” a guessing game that earn the winners big prizes? I parse this as “well, you caught us making hoaxes but… that was totally our plan all along!” Naturally many people were left feeling betrayed, as evidenced on the Section 51 discussion page [update: YouTube account deleted] where the producers spend a good deal of time responding to insulting comments from outraged viewers.

    The channel description continues:

    We launched that new idea of reality web-series with UFO and Sci-Fi subjects in order to expose the reality of UFOs. We call that kind of event UFOs because we are totally bemused about what this could be ? Sometimes we have no words to explain what we see, sometimes we can see that it’s just hoax. The purpose of that web-series is to make you ask yourself these questions about UFOs… until the real contact happens one day !

    If you can make sense of that word salad, you’re more conceptually flexible than I am. Section 51 doesn’t even know what the term “web series” means. It’s a collection of episodes around a common theme, usually with a storyline of some kind, at least within each episode. A web series definitely is not a collection of military clips with visual effects added, with no storyline and not a word of dialogue.

    In spite of all the negative response and waffling about their purpose, Section 51 has obviously been encouraged by the number of subscribers their charade has taken in, and is now looking for money to do more of the same by promoting this link [update: Patreon account deleted] on their channel’s main page. Their plea for funds is laughably devoid of specifics on what you will get for your money. According to their Patreon page, “As a Patron you’ll receive many exclusive bonuses per month unavailable to the public. See below for details!” and then gives no details, just vague references to future endeavors: “This year we’re working on a TON of amazing projects for you guys.”

    In a way, it’s kind of refreshing that a hoaxer has dropped the charade: they’re making hoax videos, and they’re in it for the money.

    Things don’t seem to be going so smoothly, however. The promo video on the Section 51 channel’s main page features the following text:

    This is a message to all our subscribers. No one can intimidate you. Section 51’s channel is temporarily limited. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, and nothing is hidden that will not be made known. We have another alternative. It is called Aurora 51. Subscribe to Aurora 51 and discover new exclusive videos of Section 51. A new way to support us and continue to follow your favorite Section 51’s program. We’ll be back soon on Aurora 51 and Section 51. Thank you!

    (I just saved you two minutes of eyestrain watching text on a flashing background mixed in some shadowy logo porn.)

    Did Youtube get complaints about Section 51’s content and restrict them, similar to what happened to NDestination Unknown? Hard to say. I’m not sure what their policy is on such matters. I don’t know how splitting off to a second channel helps Section 51, but they must have done it for a reason.

    This whole scenario reinforces what I’ve said about UFO hoaxers: they do this because they have a desperate desire to make legitimate entertainment– art, even– but are too inept or lack the motivation to actually do the work to accomplish that goal. They’re desperate to have eyes on their work, even if they have to lie to get the views. The online UFO community is just the easiest mark they could find.

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  • Speedebunking: Thirdphaseofmoon is Dumb, Thinks You’re Dumber

    Sure, I could make a career out of TPOM hoaxes, but I prefer to concentrate on those that get a lot of play. The only authentic-seeming aspect of this clip, titled New Stealth TR-3B!! UFO Sightings ET Craft Or Military Florida Coast is the ambient sound, which gives a good impression of a woman squealing in wonder on a windy day. Blake’s intro focuses on the supposed videographer’s shaky camera work, so right off the bat I knew what to focus on. Of course, it paid off.

    A redditor mentioned that I may be inadvertently teaching hoaxers how to make better product. There are two reasons I believe this is not cause for concern: first, because of the time constraint built in to the Speedebunking format, I always hold a little something back. Second, if these people were smart or talented enough to learn from their mistakes, they’d actually be working on legit shows instead of making worthless crap for Youtube. I’m pretty comfortable that hoaxers won’t be able to create clips that can’t be blown up.

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