Hundreds of thousands of fans tricked into watching fake AFF Cup match on YouTube

By Luu Quy   January 9, 2023 | 10:11 pm PT
Hundreds of thousands of fans tricked into watching fake AFF Cup match on YouTube
A livestream video of a Vietnam-Indonesia football match on YouTube, January 9, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy
Hundreds of thousands of football fans were tricked into watching an old Vietnam-Indonesia football match on YouTube, instead of the actual AFF Cup semifinal on Monday.

"When my neighbors screamed ‘Goal!’ but my computer kept showing the score at 0-0, I realized I was watching the wrong match," said Ha Van Quyet from Hanoi. Quyet wanted to watch the Vietnam-Indonesia semifinal match on Monday, but when he went on YouTube, he stumbled upon a match from SEA Games 31 in May.

"Both the title and the thumbnail said it was the latest match," he said. "The video was from a reputable channel, which is why I watched it."

Quyet was not the only one fooled. A keyword search with "Vietnam-Indonesia" on Monday night would reveal dozens of results on YouTube right at the top. However, not all of them aired the match that people were expecting.

The Live Football – VTV Cab channel showed two videos with the titles "live match today," and "live semifinal AFF Cup 2022." These videos.had as many as 50,000 views at the same time during certain moments.

Another channel called On Sports Plus also showed similar videos, attracting more than 12,000 views at the same time.

Many of these channels had hundreds of thousands of follows on YouTube, and some had previously shown live videos of football matches.

"I often watch football on this channel, so when I opened YouTube, the older video was immediately recommended," said Minh Duc of Hanoi. "I didn't expect that I would be watching the wrong match."

It's not rare for YouTube channels to post videos of fake football matches, especially during certain football seasons and tournaments. During World Cup last year, similar videos and livestreams also showed up, tricking viewers into believing they were watching actual live matches at the time. These fake matches can be easily found through Google Searches or searches on YouTube itself.

Khiem, an administrator of a community of digital content creators in Vietnam, said the tactic is commonly used on YouTube to generate views and revenues through ads.

"They often do it when there are large events that many people are interested in, so they can create livestreams, even though they don't have the content that viewers need," Khiem said, adding that while these videos may be later deleted, the channels' owners may have already earned money from the ads.

A digital content creator in Vietnam, who declined to be named, said that certain YouTube channels that showed the Vietnam-Indonesia match that was played earlier in the SEA Games actually have the copyright rights to do so.

"But the use of misleading titles and thumbnails may constitute YouTube violations," he said, "and they may be fined."

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