Wolfe’s penchant for exploiting other people’s content goes beyond books. As many people who run Facebook pages do, he posts highly sharable little memes and videos. The Wolfe method of making content goes as follows: take a picture or video that someone else created and add a line of text over it to make it look like it’s somehow yours. Do you like this retro keyboard that started up via Kickstarter? Wolfe liked it so much that he spliced the video, slapped his logo on it, and changed the background music. Out of love, I’m sure. Dig this umbrella that closes upwards? Wolfe apparently does too, so much so he edited down the video a little, added some text, and presto, more clickbait to lure people to his page. Think this futuristic baby stroller is amazing? Wolfe evidently thought so too, so he added some text to the video and tucked his logo in the corner of it.
While reading Yvette D’Entremont’s (aka The SciBabe) takedown of David Avocado Wolfe—a man whose middle name should indicate he hardly needs taking down, AND YET!—I was struck by this passage about viral video thievery. Not that this is anything new, but there’s something incredibly pernicious about the rise of the true shitvid—a stolen meme in video format, essentially used to catch your attention, capture your views, and claim them for a specific brand that often has little or nothing to do with the content of the video. It’s like brands on the internet have resorted to producing their own chum, regurgitating memes with the intention of keeping everyone trapped. And instead of some kind of mysterious evil genius behind the “Stories from around the Internet” algorithm, it’s just us, peddling each other our basest visual clickbait. This is what happens when brands become people, too.
Image: Kyle Pearce via Flickr