Reply Girls

“Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren’t so exciting.” -Bill Gates

Other than playing various Bon Jovi videos on repeat while I’m getting ready to go out on a Friday night, I’m not a big YouTube user. So I was totally unaware of this new internet phenomenon, The Reply Girl, until I caught a discussion about it on On The Media.

Essentially, women have been replying to popular YouTube videos in low cut tops and discussing the popular video, though for many the “discussion” might just involve a recap or, in some cases, nothing about the original video at all. They then copy and paste all of the original video’s tags and the video shows up as a “related video” on YouTube. Users click on the video and the women make money off of advertising.

The videos are, essentially, spam. They offer very little (if any) content and exist basically just to make money off of clicks. This method, of course, is how lots and lots of people make money off the internet (see, for example, any blog supporting itself through ads). Clearly, YouTube should adjust its “related videos” algorithm to remove these videos and all will be right with the world.

So what is not right with the world? Not only is the internet full of spam, it’s also full of misogyny. You don’t see a lot of other places online where people call spammers “bitch” and “whore.” Even the name “Reply Girl” infantilizes what are clearly adult women.

It’s not all that hard to not click on a video on YouTube. I, for one, rarely click on related videos. (Unless they are of adorable puppies.) The reaction here goes far above and beyond what typical spammers could expect. The hate against the Reply Girls is based, in part, on the hate against women in general. Spam, while annoying, doesn’t warrant death threats.