By Ciaran O’Connor
7 December 2023
During a notorious appearance on Tim Pool’s YouTube channel on November 28 2022, Kanye West (who now goes by the name Ye) shared a range of antisemitic remarks. During the same livestream, viewers echoed these beliefs by posting paid Super Chats on the video, which allow for more prominent positioning of comments. Analysis by ISD found that during the November 28 livestream the YouTube video received $7,258.66 via 583 paid Super Chat comments. Super Chats are a tool that allows creators to monetise comments in their livestream chat feeds, with audiences paying to have their comments featured, read out, or in some way treated differently to standard comments.
Within this sample, ISD identified 54 comments, or 9% of the total sample, which promoted explicit and implicit forms of antisemitism, as detailed below. Super Chats are a leading source of revenue for both creators and the platform itself. This means that both Pool and YouTube have profited from antisemitism on the platform.
Super Chats Used to Drive Revenue from Ye’s Antisemitism
Throughout 2022, Ye has embraced and promoted a wide range of antisemitic remarks and conspiracy theories on social media and in interviews. By using his prominent public presence to appear on multiple programs, engaging with white nationalists and far-right activists and by expressing old stereotypes about Jewish supremacy and denials of the Holocaust, Ye’s efforts are encouraging the mainstreaming of antisemitism.
On November 28, popular YouTube creator Tim Pool broadcast a livestream interview with Ye, who appeared on the program with white nationalist Nicholas Fuentes and far-right activist Milo Yiannopoulos. The interview lasted about 20 minutes. During this time Ye cited various antisemitic tropes, railed about “Zionist” forces and a supposed Jewish cabal in charge of both banking and the media.
Pool told Ye, “I think they’ve been extremely unfair to you.” When asked by Ye to clarify who he meant by “they,” Pool replied, “the corporate press.” Ye answered this by saying “Who is “they,” though?” in a reference to Jewish people. This was followed by Fuentes who also said “It is them, though, isn’t it?” Ye then left the studio, soon followed by Fuentes and Yiannopoulos.
Pool continued on. The entire broadcast lasted for two hours and during the livestream, like every Pool broadcast, the video received paid Super Chat comments from viewers commenting on Ye’s comments, Pool’s handling of Ye and wider topics.
Analysis by ISD found that during the November 28 livestream the YouTube video received $7,258.66 via 583 paid Super Chat comments. Creators keep about 70% of each Super Chat and YouTube takes about 30%, which in this instance equates to a split of $5,081.07 for Tim Pool and $2,177.59 for YouTube.
Within this sample, ISD identified 54 comments, or 9% of the total sample, which promoted explicit and implicit forms of antisemitism, as detailed below.
In a previous piece of research, Cash for Comments, ISD documented how YouTube’s Super Chat tool has allowed YouTube channel owners and the platform itself to profit from content that promotes conspiracy theories, mis- and disinformation, as well as harmful and threatening language – including open calls for violence – that directly violate the platform’s Community Guidelines.
This short report includes brief overviews on the Super Chats tool and data regarding the amounts paid during this popular livestream. The report then features analysis of the comments and the likely platform community guidelines violations they include.
ISD research shows a particularly stark enforcement gap on YouTube when it comes to its Super Chat functionality, and highlights failures by the platform to take effective action against harmful antisemitism, all while YouTube and YouTube’s creators earn revenue from the same content.
About Super Chats
Super Chats, launched in January 2017, are a tool that helps YouTube creators (channel owners) to monetize the live chats that accompany their livestreams and enable their viewers to comment in real time and pay to pin and highlight their comments, above other non-monetized comments, on the host’s live chat feed during livestream videos
YouTube says that video creators receive 70% of Super Chat revenue that is “recognized by Google after local sales tax and applicable App Store fees on iOS are deducted,” which, in effect, means that YouTube is taking about 30% of every donation and earning revenue from this content and Tim Pool keeps about 70%. This video resulted in a split of $5,081.07 for Tim Pool and $2,177.59 for YouTube.
ISD recorded every paid Super Chat comment posted throughout the video, including the currency and amount spent and the text (if any) that accompanied the comment. ISD did not record the names/usernames of YouTube users who posted paid Super Chat comments. ISD collected a sample of 583 Super Chat comments. The next step was to develop a list of keywords to examine the sample for the nature and scale of antisemitic content.
ISD’s definition of antisemitism is in line with the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) which defines antisemitism as “a certain perception of Jews, which may be expressed as hatred towards Jews. Rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism are directed towards Jewish or non-Jewish individuals and/or their property, towards Jewish community institutions and religious facilities.” The IHRA also includes a list of 11 examples of contemporary antisemitism, which helped inform ISD’s selection of keywords.
ISD generated a list of 15 keywords to capture discourse related to antisemitism. The selection of keywords was also informed by previous ISD research that included both explicit and implicit expressions of antisemitism. ISD then examined the sample for the presence and use of these keywords.
Additionally, such is the nature of antisemitism online that these beliefs are often expressed through coded, veiled or vague references to Jewish people. Researching antisemitism online requires significant background knowledge to understand the context and intent of content. To account for this, ISD examined the full sample for antisemitic references that didn’t make use of the keywords also.
Researchers conducted a validation exercise to omit comments that may have used one of the keywords but were judged to be false positives and used in a way that was critical or unsupportive of antisemitism. For example, some Super Chat comments referenced Jewish people whilst criticising Ye for propagating antisemitic conspiracy theories and slurs.
The final dataset consisted of a sample of 54 comments (9% of the total sample of 583 comments) featuring expressions or antisemitism.
Details About Super Chats Payments
Across the 583 paid comments, the average level of payment was $12.49. One user paid $250 to post a message that promoted a pro-Trump clothing store that describes itself as “aggressively patriotic.” Two users paid $200 to post their comments; one comment featured a Bible quote and the other was from a user who supports West and described themselves as a Jewish free speech absolutist. Six users paid $100 and 15 paid $50.
Nine currencies were used to pay for the 583 comments. 536 comments (91%) were paid in US dollars, while the rest were made up of a mixture of Canadian dollars, Australian dollars, Euros, British pounds, Norwegian Krones, Brazilian Reals, South African Rands and Chilean Pesos.
Previous ISD research examining Super Chats included a sample of 100 Tim Pool videos, of which, only one video received over $7,000 in paid Super Chat comments. That video, which received over $10,000, was a livestream which included Joe Rogan and Alex Jones and was broadcast following the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse in November 2021. The $7,258 received during the Ye livestream indicates this resulted in far above-average levels of paid comments and revenue for Pool and YouTube.
In total, ISD identified 54 comments that were judged to promote antisemitism, accounting for 9% of the total number of paid Super Chat messages posted during the livestream. These 54 paid comments accounted for $456.49, the split for which is; $319.54 for Tim Pool and $136.95 for YouTube.
Included in this dataset were various explicit antisemitic remarks including conspiracies that accuse Jewish elites of covertly controlling the media, comments supporting Ye’s claims that sinister Jewish forces are trying to control him, or comments promoting antisemitic content on other platforms. Such comments include:
- “At the end of every conspiracy is a Jew. Movies, music, finance, Gov, NGOs, military contractors, sports etc. You refuse to even consider it. THEY don’t do it, THEY fund and coordinate it, EVERY TIME.” ($10)
- “Jews took alot of gold and silver from Egypt. Jewish individuals own banks, Hollywood and media. How many board members of CNN is Tribe?” ($5)
- “Tim just don’t want to upset the Jews hence his cowardness. He’s scared to be cancelled by the Jews” ($4.99)
Figure 1: $10 and $4.99 Super Chat comments posted during the Timcast IRL Ye interview. YouTube earned about $3 and $1.50 from these comments.
As well as this, there were numerous veiled or implicit antisemitic remarks too, such as the repeated references to “they,” mirroring Pool and Ye’s conversation on livestream, comments featuring the word “jewel” and different veiled references to Jewish people, and other comments that generally referred to Jewish people as a group of people you are not allowed to criticise.
- “Untillwhitesare not a protectedclass like the jewels and these peoplefight so hard for you, do not stopfighting against them” ($5)
- Individuals can “make it” but they end up with J handlers. Lebron, Brittany. Look at how Ari Emanuel hurt Ye. Just look into how successful non-Js end up marrying into J families. (YT makes me say J) ($9.99)
- “Revelation 2:9” ($5) [This is a reference to a Bible passage describing Jewish people as the “Synagogue of Satan,” and is regularly referenced by antisemites online.]
Figure 2: : $5 and $9.99 Super Chat comments posted during the Timcast IRL Ye interview. YouTube earned about $1.50 and $3 from these comments.
Promotion of neo-Nazi and Holocaust Denial Propaganda
The majority of these antisemitic comments were posted after Ye walked off and left the interview. While Ye was still present, one user paid $5 and encouraged others to watch Defiant and Europa: The Last Battle, two white nationalist conspiracy movies available online. Just as Ye walked off, another user paid $5 and encouraged others to look up Ryan Dawson, a prominent Holocaust denier. At a later point during the livestream, one user paid $5 and promoted The Last Battle once more while another user paid $10 and asked Pool to bring on white supremacist Warren Balough from the National Justice Party.
Figure 3: A sample of Super Chat comments posted while Ye was still present in the studio. A $5 Super Chat comment (in red box) was used to promote an antisemitic, Holocaust denial documentary. YouTube earned about $1.50 from this comment.
YouTube’s guidelines on hate speech prohibit content promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on protected attributes including race, ethnicity, religion. It seems clear that much of the content included in the data of 54 comments identified by ISD violates this guideline yet is still available and live on YouTube.
If content is found to violate Community Guidelines, YouTube says they will donate their portion of revenue to charity. But, as ISD has asked in previous research, if the comments are still viewable and live on YouTube, does that mean YouTube is not aware of them? Or, if they are removed and revenue given to charity, does Tim Pool still keep his portion?
As this research shows, Super Chats continue to be used and abused by users to post harmful and threatening content on YouTube. In this case, users expressed various forms of antisemitism in paid Super Chat comments allowing Pool, one of the platform’s most high-profile and popular creators, and YouTube itself to profit from this hateful content.
At a time when one of the world’s most-popular and influential musicians and artists is using their platform to mainstream troubling and harmful antisemitic beliefs, it is imperative that technology companies take a firm stance to limit the reach of these beliefs. This is especially true when such beliefs result in clear violations of the platform’s own community guidelines, as evidenced here. It is also incredibly important that technology companies or online content creators do not profit from such remarks too, though based on this small case study, not even this small measure can be guaranteed at this moment.