Content Notice: Violence, hate-motivated assaults.
In a report called Capturing Hate, a non-profit organization by the name of Witness has collected some statistics on the disturbing trend of “shock videos” as they pertain to trans women and gender nonconforming people. In most of these videos, the victims are being verbally harassed or physically assaulted, with participants on the offending websites advocating for further violence. Most of these videos are posted without the victim’s consent, a few of which have gone on record to say that these acts also sabotaged their careers.
Oh, and these shock videos aren’t even just being hosted by fringe websites feeding on a sadistic viewership. They’re on YouTube.
From the report:
Our analysis of the engagement with those videos — including ratings, comments and how the videos are captured, titled and described — proves that abuse and discrimination against transgender people is widespread and undercounted. And, the content condones, or even encourages, violent acts against them. The existence of these videos and the volume of hateful engagement pose a direct threat to gender nonconforming people and compromise a positive and empowered representation of these communities.
We studied viewer engagement only with videos that captured physical assault and we analyzed data from four very different sites. We included YouTube, where we found the most videos, but the content represents just a small segment of the platform’s total offerings. World Star Hip Hop and Fly Height are “shock” sites that solicit and promote these videos to drive traffic and to monetize as part of their business models. And, Live Leak, a video aggregator that promotes itself as a cutting edge news outlet known for breaking particularly gruesome content (e.g., the execution of Saddam Hussein).
Significantly absent from this study is the viewer engagement data from eyewitness videos hosted on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Vine. In our URL harvests we found thousands of video links on these platforms matching the search criteria, and tens of thousands of Facebook “likes” from platforms we did analyze. In test studies we found that most videos were uploaded to a hosting platform then shared to social media platforms furthering viewer engagement. Capturing and analyzing that data exceeded project resources in both cost and capacity.
Even with this small sample size, LGBTQ advocacy organizations we consulted were surprised by the number of eyewitness videos of violence against transgender people and stunned by how widely viewed and favorably rated they were. Most alarming are the vitriolic comments that are ongoing. We found videos posted years ago that are still being engaged with today.
Have some of their statistics:
of total videos analyzed were found on YouTube
of YouTube videos categorized as entertainment or comedy
of total ratings were “likes”
of total views were on World Star Hip Hop
For trans folk, none of this really comes as a surprise. Even as we attempt to report our mistreatment to police, we are often treated as punchlines instead of victims. Most of us are already aware of the intense disdain expressed by violent trans-antagonists. And while it’s true that most people don’t deliberately seek out material of trans women being assaulted and murdered, it is also true that there are people who do–explicitly for the purpose of celebrating the violence depicted.
89 million views. 99% approval.
This is what trans & gender nonconforming folk are up against.