I HAVE SOLVED THE FINGER FAMILY CONSPIRACY
So yesterday, YouTube dude @cr1tikal posted a video called Finger Family Mystery. In it, he details a strange. sprawling assortment of videos littered all over YouTube, each with millions of hits, almost zero comments, and always featuring a benign children’s nursery rhyme.
As it turns out, he’s right; a quick search of “Finger Family” nets you nothing but hundreds of these videos. Why do they exist? I decided to probe. Watching one of the videos didn’t enlighten me, but then I had the radical idea of watching the videos on Internet Explorer, where I don’t have AdBlock.
Shock and terror: all of the videos are monetized. Suddenly, the sky opens up and the truth is clear. These videos aren’t being made to be watched. They’re being made to generate money.
Remember how YouTube’s copyright and monetization system works? It’s a combination of the ads and the total minutes watched. The Finger Family videos vary; the smaller ones are only about a minute and a half long, the longer ones are up to 90 minutes, and in the middle they range from 15-30 minutes.
Now, copyright. The nursery rhyme “The Finger Family” is public domain, so anyone’s free to stick in a book of nursery rhymes and sell it. There are copyright characters all over these videos, sure, but none of the original material is being used; it’s all half-baked animations cobbled together using familiar faces. It’s pissing on the face of copyright law. And assuming these videos are being churned out by some Chinese company (where copyright laws are FAR more lenient), this could very well not have any copyright hurdles to start with.
But who’s watching the videos? No human being. Most likely, it’s a bunch of computers set up to watch these videos, click an ad, reload the page, and so on. Who’s making the videos? Again, not a person. The content’s being generated by automated systems that grab premade assets and familiar characters and automatically generate a video.
This is all speculation, of course. I could be entirely wrong. There could be a Finger Family Cult hidden beneath the crust of the Earth, and watching these videos is part of a daily ritual. But as that seems unlikely…
TL;DR: These videos are being automatically generated and watched so that whoever owns the videos can make a ton of money off of ad clicks and views.