Sunday, February 25, 2024

Physics is amazing: Beware of pseudoscience videos

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Maria Gill
Maria Gill
"Subtly charming problem solver. Extreme tv enthusiast. Web scholar. Evil beer expert. Music nerd. Food junkie."

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Who has not seen such a video before? A science experiment showcasing the “amazing feats of physics” or the desire to show how “awesome physics” is. Behind these harmless videos hides a profitable business, sometimes based on stealing artistic content, scams to attract clicks, or even earn money.

If you’ve seen a “draw an ellipse” video or a video of a coin starting to spin in the middle of three prongs stuck to the batteries… you’ve been exposed to a fake video claiming to show an “incredible” physics experiment.

The accounts you transmit have very similar names, especially on Twitter: @zone_astronomy, @physicsastronmy, @amazing_physics or even @physicsvids_. Its peculiarity is that videos retrieved on Reddit are regularly transmitted, often stolen from graphic artists – or motion designers – without attributing the origin of those videos, or without specifying that they are graphic creations.

Some examples of Twitter accounts specializing in physics or fake science videos. © Observers / Twitter

The man who tracks these “fake physics accounts”

on twitter, PicPedant account Pseudo-science-looking videos are often updated. Behind this account, an American based in Canada, Paulo Ordovisa, agreed to tell us more about this mechanism:

What I’ve noticed is that these spam accounts usually pick up their content from Reddit via automated posts. [utilisant par exemple le logiciel Buffer, NDLR].

Other times, they have sponsored retweets of other content, and of course the primary goal of automation is to make money. For this, they are offering brands or marketers to get paid to retweet the content. But they don’t do it directly: they always go through an intermediate Twitter account that they will retweet its content.

Example of a Tweet advertising health products through the account "Classic pics" Essentially transferring iconic images.  According to Paulo Ordoviza, this is an example of retweeting in exchange for compensation.
An example of a tweet advertising health products through the “Classic Pics” account, essentially conveying iconic images. According to Paulo Ordoviza, this is an example of retweeting in exchange for compensation. © Twitter

Another way to find out about these accounts is that they only use very generic captions to share their videos like “The physics is so cool” or “How can you explain it?”. The point is, these videos can’t be easily found via search engines by searching the caption with a keyword, or more likely because they are lazy! ”

Accounts prepared for resale?

The editorial team at France 24 Observers found no evidence that these accounts transmitting “false physics experiments” were intended to be resold on “marketplaces,” niche sites that allow buyers to obtain accounts on Twitter.

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However, as explained in 2019 by Info or Intox, disinformation specialist Janne Alhberg, account host Tweet embedMost of those accounts that build their traffic on automation by posting viral content often pursue a financial goal.

If you want to report a video to our team for verification, contact us on Twitter Tweet embed !

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