It's the internet's worst-kept secret that major sites like YouTube have a dark side, where racism flourishes and the company profits from surprisingly widespread videos filled with hate-speech.
Most people expect these videos to be made by and for grown men, and that is often the case.
One rising star of YouTube's extremist fringe, however, is a 14-year-old girl who goes by the name Soph.
Soph has over 800,000 followers on YouTube, where she began streaming video games at the age of 9 under the name LtCorbis. Though her stream was surprisingly profane for that of a 9-year-old, her turn into political "comedy" began more recently.
In her most recent videos, Soph claims to be satirizing liberal perspectives. In one entitled "Be Not Afraid," which was removed from YouTube after Buzzfeed published a scathing report on Soph's behaviors, she wears a chador while telling the audience:
"I've become a devout follower of the Prophet Muhammad. Suffice to say, I've been having a f**k ton of fun.
Of course, I get raped by my 40-year-old husband every so often and I have to worship a black cube to indirectly please an ancient Canaanite god — but at least I get to go to San Fran and stone the shit out of some gays, and the cops can't do anything about it because California is a crypto-caliphate."
Though Soph's views are undeniably racist and absolutely bone-chilling to hear coming from the mouth of a 14-year-old, Joseph Bernstein of Buzzfeed points out that her rise to fame and continued success is, more than anything else, an indictment of YouTube.
Oh, and this should be obvious from referencing Joe’s report, but nothing about Soph’s behavior is acceptable or ev… https://t.co/P8bJHnPlFv— julia 🤔 alexander (@julia 🤔 alexander)1557789457.0
The fact that YouTube would allow a high school freshman to share hate-speech online is harmful not only because of the views it spreads, but because that child's opinions, personality and values are still forming.
But by sharing that child's never-ending racist monologue to the world, it will become hard for Soph to distance herself from it if she ever someday (hopefully) comes to regret her previous beliefs.
It appears YouTube has taken action against at least one of Soph’s videos following @Bernstein Buzzfeed report. The… https://t.co/9JM9ZldbzF— julia 🤔 alexander (@julia 🤔 alexander)1557789182.0
In recent videos, Soph speaks about having a health issue that's kept her out of class, and an unhappiness at school in general.
She's recently moved from New York to California, a highly stressful experience for anyone, especially at such a pivotal point in a child's development.
From this situation, it's not hard to imagine a child falling ever-deeper into the online community who have always offered her unwavering support, especially when she's "brave" enough to say incredibly offensive things she doesn't have a full understanding of.
@SusanWojcicki Anyhow, hard to tell who this story is reaching because of the legion of horribles in my feed right… https://t.co/SZEYuwN4Vj— Joe Bernstein (@Joe Bernstein)1557845372.0
But in spite of her incendiary commentary, YouTube algorithms have helped to make Soph the popular streamer she is today by "favoring sensational videos" and "deliberately ignoring toxic content."
Soph herself has spent a large portion of her time pointing out the flaws in YouTube's system that have allowed her rise to "power:"
"The fact that I was 11 and could easily follow the commentary formula should have been a sign that the standards for the genre were terribly low."
The 14-year-old also seems to have figure out YouTube's bottom-line: money. She knows that if she's popular enough, raking in advertising money for the company, they won't touch her.
Despite the site's rules clearly stating one must be 13 or older to have an account and post videos, Soph has been active on YouTube since the age of 9. Her streaming channel gained a significant amount of attention, but was never shut down by YouTube.
@heathercampbell A mother was recently arrested for abusing and using kids to perform on a popular youtube channel.… https://t.co/4zTJwoPNv8— CloudNine (@CloudNine)1557795698.0
Soph even went so far as to dare the site to remove her by issuing a death threat. In a video, she addressed YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki:
"Susan, I've known your address since last summer. I've got a Luger and a mitochondrial disease. I don't care if I live. Why should I care if you live or your children? I just called an Uber. You've got about seven minutes to draft up a will. ... I'm coming for you, and it ain't gonna be pretty."
It turns out Soph was absolutely right. After she issued her threat (albeit unfounded), YouTube reviewed her channel, removed the single video containing the threat, and left the rest online, including racist garbage like "Be Not Afraid." As of the writing of this article, following extensive coverage in the aforementioned Buzzfeed article, "Be Not Afraid" has been removed.
The majority of Soph's vidoes, however, remain online, including some entitled "Suicide Bomber," "Multiracial White Supremacy," and "Women are Cool and Should Vote."
@YouTube If the channel called ‘soph’ does not violate your terms of service, it should. This is a young girl. Hat… https://t.co/SebHobK0bO— Rick McCharles (@Rick McCharles)1557842526.0
Soph claims she writes her YouTube videos with a collaborator, whom many suspect is her father.