Conspiracy Videos About The California Wildfires Are Going Viral On YouTube

Searches for "California fire" were followed by terms including "laser beam" and "conspiracy 2018".

YouTube videos painting the recent California wildfires as a US government conspiracy have clocked up millions of views.

Searches for “California fire” in various forms in the search bar were followed by “conspiracy 2018” “laser beam”, “directed energy weapons” (such as a laser) and “agenda 21” thanks to the autofill feature, US tech site Motherboard reported.

Almost 80 people have died and a further 563 are unaccounted for after the wildfires ravaged parts of the Golden state and left the town of Paradise completely gutted.


Conspiracy theorists falsely believe the devastating blaze was triggered by the government, who fired lasers at predetermined targets.

The aim of some of the videos was to support a warped interpretation of Agenda 21, a sustainable development plan developed by the United Nations in the 1990s.

The clips use manipulated pictures and footage distorted out of context to make their point, with some of them racking up hundreds of thousands of views.

Other clips claim recent events in the state, including a shooting at a college bar in Thousand Oaks which left 12 people dead, have been predicted in the Bible.

The issue brings to light use of the video-sharing platform to spread misinformation, and is not the first time YouTube has been embroiled in a fake news scandal.

After 17 students were fatally shot at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February, the number one video on the site suggested David Hogg, one of the survivors, was a crisis actor.

The clip amassed more than 200,000 views before it was taken down by YouTube.

The site uses an algorithm which content creators often manipulate to push their content to the fore.

YouTube told Motherboard that it has a breaking news section on its homepage which directs users to credible news sites.

“Over the last year we’ve worked to better surface credible news sources across our site for people searching for news-related topics,” the company said in a statement.

In a bid to combat the algorithm, chief executive Susan Wojcicki suggested earlier this year that the site would provide links to Wikipedia articles debunking conspiracy theories, next to the videos.


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