YouTube removed hundreds of videos that promoted a homework cheating site

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Hundreds of YouTube channels have had their videos removed from the site following a BBC investigation that found the widespread promotion of an essay-writing service as a way for students to cheat at school.

Last week, the BBC published an investigation which found that more than 250 channels had promoted a Ukranian company called EduBirdie, which sells essays to desperate students. The company says that its services are useful for “research into the subject, generating initial input for for further reasoning and citations...paraphrasing in accordance with major educational standards as well as tailored to your college / university guidelines for plagiarism.” It sponsored hundreds of YouTube channels, who told their viewers that it was a an easy and cheap way to pass their classes. In this instance, the BBC found that the videos containing the endorsements were viewed more than 700 million times.

Following the BBC’s investigation, YouTube notified influencers to say that it would take down videos that didn’t comply with its policies. The BBC noted that that selling the papers isn’t illegal, but YouTube says that while creators can include paid advertisements in their videos, they can only do so if said promotion complies with its policies. This is where the influencers ran into trouble: promoting so-called “Academic Aids” defined as test-taking and academic paper-writing services are prohibited, resulting in the removal of a number of videos. The BBC noted that some channels had over a hundred videos removed.

In a statement to the BBC, EduBirdie parent company Boosta says that it gave “influencers total freedom on how they prefer to present the EduBirdie platform to their audience in a way they feel would be most relevant to their viewers.”

In the last decade, an entire industry geared towards ghostwriting papers for students of all levels has appeared, allowing grade, college, and graduate students to cheaply purchase work to pass their classes. In 2010, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a report by Ed Dante (who later revealed himself as Dave Tomar) called The Shadow Scholar, in which he claimed to have helped write thousands of pages of academic work for students, facilitated through a website like EduBirdie.

Comments

I didn’t know about this particular service, now I do. Thanks Verge!

I always wondered about how legal that was. Zias would have edubirdie promote on their channel so I hope they didn’t remove some classic reactions.

Is it illegal? Nope… Highly unethical? Abso-friggin-lutely.

Buying papers has been around for ages but buying papers alone isn’t going to get you to pass. Most of what is involved with passing classes is passing exams.
With modern technology, that might be easier than ever but you still need to find someone who is willing to flip through a textbook and give you answers from a remote location while you feed them questions over a wireless device.

Quote a book, or quote another paper. Doesn’t seem too different to me. So not sure why people are so up-in-arms about this. If a school or teacher want’s real work, make them do it in class room time. Outside, all’s fair. Love and War are not always won over by playing fair.

This is the equivalent to BSing your way through an interview and being the weakest link who is let go within a year.

Life doesn’t quite work that way. I’ve seen some of the most knowledgeable folks let go in one year, for reasons far different than an interview or ability. And those with little to no ability kept on, and promoted. It’s more about politics than skill far too often.

Ahahahahahah, I call it Karma. I have used this service once. Their quality was awful and wasn’t written by a native speaker. There is a bunch of other services that have lower prices and better quality.

I’ve been discussing it with some Youtube "stars" on Twitter. In general, they are defying the reality. Some of them didn’t even know that Youtube is owned by Google. Others never bothered to read the terms and if they did – they would give silly / extreme examples claiming they don’t advertise guns or illegal drugs.

Some of them continue recommending this Ukraine-based service to others (they must have paid them well to do so – refer to https://essayscam.org/forum/es/edubirdie-opinions-5903/ ). This fiasco has resulted in at least two serious damages to the whole Youtube producing community that made (or used to made) money from their content:

1. Now Youtube will start policing the content even more (the precedent is there already).

2. The times of "under the table" advertising may be over soon. Expect a new, more radical, Terms of Service for producers later this year.

It’s clear Youtube has technology to detect particular words or phrases not only posted as text within videos, but also when spoken. That gives them enough weapon to detect the abusers.

The whole situation shows a small group of ignorant or money-hungry people can destroy a lot for the majority of us. Sigh

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