The People Who Make Your Videos Go Viral

By Chris Mills on at

Aside from Justin Bieber videos, YouTube’s greatest contribution to the internet has been in the ‘humans being dumb’ genre — everyone loves watching, say, people failing to pour ice water on their heads. But viral videos don’t just go viral on their own; in many cases, there’s a viral puppet-master pulling the strings.

NPR has a fascinating look into the work of a company which makes money off viral videos. In a nutshell, the business model is to pay a legion of Generation Y-ers to scour YouTube for upcoming gems, enter into a licensing agreement with the owner, then flip the clip to MTV for a few thousand quid.

One of the main attractions of viral videos is the unplanned nature. Charlie’s finger-bite wouldn’t be so adorable if it was an ad for a nanny service, after all. It’s a little disappointing (if not entirely surprising) to know that even this last bastion of online innocence is carefully curated and optimized for maximum shareability. [NPR]