Thousands tricked into watching fake World Cup matches on YouTube

By Luu Quy   November 25, 2022 | 01:45 am PT
Tens of thousands of people were misled into watching fake YouTube videos of World Cup 2022 matches, with experts saying they were ploys to generate views and make money off ads.

"It took me a few minutes to realize that the content was fake," Huy Hoang, who lives in Hanoi, said about a YouTube video that seemingly showed the Japan v. Germany match on Wednesday.

Hoang found the video, titled "Live Germany-Japan on 23/11 Group E World Cup 2022," through a Google search. The video was seemingly shot from a distance, with Vietnamese commentaries included. The video was blurry at first, which Hoang thought was due to weak internet connections.

"Not until I read the livestream comments and saw close-up shots of players' faces did I realize they were footages from the FIFA 23 video game," Hoang said.

Hoang was not alone. Tens of thousands of other people have also watched similarly fake YouTube videos about the World Cup, ever since the tournament was launched on Nov. 20. There were livestreamed videos supposedly about live matches that attracted nearly 40,000 viewers at the same time, only to be revealed as video game footage. In the comment section, users flocked in to call out the sham.

A misleading live YouTube stream that masquerades as a live World Cup match. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy

A misleading live YouTube stream that masquerades as a live World Cup match. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy

Before every World Cup match, several videos and live streams with similar content would be uploaded on YouTube. They trick viewers by having the word "live" in their titles, along with red dot symbols, which often signify live content. These videos can be found either through Google searches or direct searches on YouTube.

"You have to read carefully before you realized they were either simulations or commentaries on the matches," said Ngoc Thanh, who once watched a similarly fake World Cup video by mistake.

Khiem Vu, an administrator of a group of digital content creators, said these are common ploys by certain YouTube video makers.

"They exploit large and popular events to create live streams, even if those streams do not have the content viewers need," he said.

Khiem said these fake videos may violate YouTube's policies regarding spam, deceptive practices and scams. YouTube says using the title, thumbnails, description to trick users into believing the content is something it is not is a violation of its policies. Normally, these videos would either be hidden or modified afterwards to escape from Google’s moderation.

"Theoretically speaking, with football matches that last hours, a channel owner can earn hundreds of U.S. dollars off these kinds of videos," said Nguyen Huyen, a veteran YouTube content creator.

go to top