On Wednesday the 19th of December, streaming video hub YouTube drastically cut the number of video views for many of the major record labels. It was revealed that the major labels had been using pay-for-play sites such as Fiverr to fabricate bigger views for their videos – and thus a false impression of what is popular and what isn’t. Over 2 billion views were removed from the top 3 record labels. Sony/BMG had over 850 million views removed, while RCA lost 159 million. The Daily Dot reports:
Google’s takedown of these major music channels came on the same day that hundreds of YouTubers took to Google forums and their own YouTube channels to inform their peers that they’d been subject to a series of video takedowns for violations of YouTube’s Terms of Service (TOS). Some speculated that the widespread video takedowns were caused by a technical error, but YouTube confirmed that the users violated TOS item 4, Section H, which bans automated methods of inflating view counts.
“This was not a bug or a security breach. This was an enforcement of our viewcount policy,” wrote a Google representative on the forums.
Users on Fiverr received money for views, with reports of at least one user receiving $60,000 over six months. It’s not entirely dissimilar to the payola scandal of the ’50s, although, now, in 2012, people are pretty used to having the wool pulled over their eyes for the sake of marketing.