I have done some accidental experimenting as of late on YouTube.
The “evidence” I’m about to provide for you is anecdotal; let’s get that out of the way up front. I’m speaking from personal experience and making semi-educated guesses. But, that said, I’d love it if someone smarter than me—like a 5th grader—ran with this.
I’m a comedian, and I have to
whore promote myself wherever I can. Thus, I have a presence on TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram…
(I could keep going, but you get the point.)
I have discovered that I can post the same exact video on TikTok and YouTube, and get wildly different results.
And I’m not talking number of views—although that’s a thing as well—I mean the comments I receive. Same video, same hashtags, different responses.
For example: I posted a video involving support for the LGBTQ community. On TikTok, it was loved. Positive comments across the board. “Thanks for being an ally,” that sort of thing.
The same video on YouTube was eviscerated. And I don’t mean people used civil discourse to say, “You know, I disagree with you, and here’s why…” I mean it received a barrage of, “No one is born gay!” “Groomer!” “Pedo!” All the current far-right buzzwords.
It was startling, and got me thinking.
Again, this isn’t evidence so much as ideas, but here goes: on TikTok—at least with people interacting with me—the majority of users have their picture in the profile slot, and their name in the name slot. They show their face; they show their name.
On YouTube, the picture is generally (overwhelmingly) an avatar, and the name is usually something “creative,” such as “AWeSOMe GAMeR 2000!” or “Bone Daddy.”
(I just made those up, although I have to admit I felt like posting two actual troll names.)
So, the people giving positive reinforcement have nothing to hide, while the people leaving negative comments do so behind false fronts.
(Even more interesting: when I do receive a compliment on YouTube, it is generally from an account with an actual name on it.)
Then I had a second thought. Looking at some of the profiles and bizarrely awful comments on YouTube, I had a memory: TikTok was the platform used to highlight Donald Trump’s comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
If you don’t remember, so many people requested tickets to that event, the Trump campaign announced the arena was sold out. They further explained that they were setting up outdoor staging for the expected influx of supporters.
Then 6,200 people showed up, leaving the 19,000-seat arena looking quite empty.
(The outdoor area was completely, it goes without saying, unneeded.)
Turns out, all the ticket requests came from TikTokers who wanted to mess with The Donald. They inflated the hell out of the numbers, and we all saw the results.
On the flip side, QAnon spread like wildfire on YouTube.
Yes, it originated on another platform (4Chan or Reddit, I believe), but it went mainstream via YouTube. The worst of the worst conspiracy theories, believed by the worst of the worst people, were watched and watched tens of thousands of times.
Numerous studies have shown that the YouTube algorithm helped push that evil into the world. Not because the algorithm realized it was evil, but the simple, “Oh, you like this? You’ll like this” nature of it. People were mesmerized.
So right there you have a seemingly activist platform (TikTok), and one catering to paranoia (YouTube).
Thought number three is that TikTok is newer technology.
Yes, TikTok has been around a few years, but YouTube has been around for over a decade.
Thus, TikTok users skew younger, while YouTube skews older. Younger always tends to be more progressive, whereas older tends to be more conservative.
If you add all that up, you begin to see why support of LGBTQ people would hit on TikTok, and miss on YouTube.
All this knowledge in hand, I tried a couple more tests. I posted another video, this one comparing traditional, old-school Republicans to the MAGA cult that the party has become. I made sure to hashtag it in a manner that would target Democrats as I didn’t want to poke any bears. It wasn’t set up in any way, shape, or form that would have it fall into the hands of the far-right.
The results were exactly the same as with the pro-LGBTQ video.
TikTok users applauded; YouTube users couldn’t contain their rage. For every “Sad, but true” I received on TikTok, a YouTuber responded with “Libtard!”
I believed this was the nail in my “YouTube is filled with hateful idiots” idea coffin, but then something happened that threw me for a loop.
I looked at the analytics of a separate YouTube video—one where commenters had been exceedingly harsh—and what I discovered surprised me. Though most people leaving public thoughts were scathingly insulting, when I looked behind the scenes, 12,748 people had “liked” the video. Meanwhile, only 1,901 people had “disliked” it.
That means there was a huge silent majority out there enjoying my content, they were just (a) being shouted down by the angry minority, and (b) they didn’t feel like getting into it with them.
So, maybe anger/ignorance is just louder than kindness?
Like I said, I’d love someone with more time on their hands than me to examine the two platforms and if their users seem to lean one way or another politically. But from my limited, half-dozen video “research,” TikTok seems to be more open to societal change, where (the loudest) YouTube users are judgmentally set in their ways.
I’m obviously painting with very broad strokes here. I’ve run into the occasional dummy-head on TikTok, and had nice conversations with kind people on YouTube.
But when it comes to modern societal norms, the aggregate tends to pan out the way I’ve described.