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[flagged] A 13-year-old girl reportedly makes over $1,000 a day creating ASMR videos (businessinsider.com)
66 points by davidjnelson 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 77 comments



Reactions to this girl's channel went viral on YouTube a few months ago. The main instigator was this[0] slightly controversial video response to this girl's ASMR channel. The linked video went viral and got banned, then unbanned and demonetized. The main gist of the speaker here is that there's something fishy about underage girls making these videos. Some of this girl's videos are blatantly sexual (she re-enacts porn-plots, references Tinder, dating, etc.), and her viewerbase seems to know that and want that. The whole situation is a bit sketchy.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M78rlxEMBxk (NSFW)


Goddamn, I really really didn’t expect that level of extreme creepiness. The honey thing was weird, but the “sassy” policewoman thing? Wow. If you walked in on someone watching that, you’d be seriously concerned. Again, my asmptiom going into this was “oh boy, Internet moralizing and outrage again,” but it’s... incredibly sketchy. At best.


Moralizing has gotten a bad rap over the past couple decades, to the point of being almost completely declawed in progressive circles, but one can only hope that morals will grow their claws back soon enough for stuff like this to be stopped.

No matter how liberal you are, you're shooting you a future self in the foot if you profess a unconditional disregard of moralizing, because eventually you may discover that you do actually have morals. All it takes to get enligtened is for something bad enough to get spread around.

Edit: don't get misled by thinking I'm using the Twitter/Cable News vernacular, by liberal I mean "permissive," and by progressive I mean "in favor of changing things." Those categories could apply to the forces in any culture, even historical cultures.


I think it can be helpful to move away from pat generalizations like “progressive” or “liberal” for the most part. I have no doubt that if we first met while I was talking about my views on gender equality and redistribution of wealth you’d label me that way. If we first met while I was talking about my views on defense you’d label me right wing. If I was talking about my views on respecting trans people I’d be left again, but if we chatted about my views on Israel I’d be back on the right. I’m a passionate environmentalist who is passionately pro-nuclear, an atheist who is fascinated by and full of respect for faith.

I don’t think I’m unusual either, I think most people are defined by more than one stance, and I don’t think relative morality is the province of left or right. You’re making a good point about the merits of accepting the moral dimensions of life, don’t let politics dilute that message. Progressive, Conservative... only a crazy person is just one of those things.


Where have you gotten the impression the 'progressives' and 'liberals' would have any qualms about calling out how dodgy these videos are?


By "liberal" I mean more liberal than average, which requires pushing back or at least not supporting at least one taboo. By doing so you put yourself at risk of dismantling your own ability to keep any taboos around, even the ones that actually are right.

I'm not talking about political groups; by any measure in urban areas the political group called liberals would be just "normal," or "average." Progressive doesn't mean "Democrat," a Democrat in a blue county that believes things should be the same tomorrow as they are today is by definition a conservative.


What are these lost taboos you're referring to?

It sounds like you're saying people ought to go back to being homophobic, for example, because it will save us from a slippery slope to pedophilia?


What slope? Some people are already there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vux3-uFNtLw


Some people have always been there. That doesn't mean they got there because not being homophobic is a slippery slope.

Your video seems to be about a pedophile who is upset that the LGBT community isn't inclusive of pedophilia. I don't understand what point you were trying to make by linking that.


The point is that that some people are already using the good ideas like tolerance about what people do in the bedroom to sneak outright pedophilia in there. Where you see someone complaining that not everybody accepts it, I first and foremostly see someone who does accept the argument they are making, otherwise they wouldn't be making it. That doesn't not count just because not everybody on the planet agrees with them. And if you think that's just the one person that exists, rather than an example for many persons that exist, that's a very bold assumption.

And in Germany for example, there is quite the long and sordid history regarding that, among other things with people trying to legalize "consentual" [sic] sexual relations between minors and adults, but I don't know if there is anything thorough in the English language about it:

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C3%A4dophilie-Debatte_(1970e...

And that was directly in the wake of working against discrimination of homosexuality. For some naive people, it all fell under the umbrella of "being different sexually", and for pedophiles, that was how they tried to get a foot in the door.

This sentence

> Die Debatte über die Legalisierung pädosexueller Akte ist historisch eng verbunden mit der Forderung nach Abschaffung des § 175 (StGB)

translates to

> the debate about the legalization of pedosexual acts is historically tightly connected with the demand to get rid of [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paragraph_175 ]

Or hey, this

http://www.taz.de/!5143954/

An article about an article that appeard in 1979 in the taz, declaring pedophilia is a victimless crime in the title. One sentence from that:

> Bei einem Blick in die Archive wird klar: Teile des linksalternativen Milieus sympathisierten mit Pädophilen - zumindest boten sie ihnen einen ideologischen Rahmen.

translates to

> A look into the archives makes it obvious that parts of the alternative left scene sympathized with pedophiles - at least they provided an ideological framework to them.

So, that already happened. And it absolutely was fueled by being overzealous about being liberal and progressive -- that's not what made anyone a pedophile, but that's how some people fell for the schemes of pedophiles, and let themselves and their networks be used. That's a fact. I'm not familiar with similar things in North America but I wouldn't outright bet on not finding anything if I had the nerve to go looking, which I don't at this time.

edit: there's ignorance, and there's active suppression of information. what a cesspool.


Just look at all the comments calling it out getting downvoted into oblivion, e.g.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19168083

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19168256

They don't say what they disagree with, but they punish the poster. That's much more active than just having a qualm about calling something out, it's attacking people who call it out.

And of course, this thread isn't very active to begin with, yet is already getting flagged by many, even jumped from the second page back to the first, but will still remain penalized and at best at bottom of page 1 for a little while [edit: nope, vanished from page 1 in the time it took me to write the rest of this comment, there you go]. Again, apart from the people who have qualms calling anything out, additional activity to suppress the calling out that takes place. That's not an impression, that's a fact.

More generally, consider how 'pointing out that something could be rephrased as "think of the children"' is some kind of mic-drop killer argument for many here, as if that would automatically disqualify anything, like a Nazi comparison does in the minds of some:

https://hn.algolia.com/?query=%22think%20of%20the%20children...


Even if it sexual, why must it be stigmatized?


Many people (myself included) find the sexualization of 13-year olds immoral and worthy of being stigmatized.

Hopefully that’s not too surprising of a statement (regardless of your personal views).


Its not surprising but why?


Hey man, I appreciate the intellectual curiosity and desire to challenge commonly held beliefs.

This is clearly a topic with extreme potential for heated, off-topic debate. I don’t think Hacker News is the right forum for this discussion.

If “you have something genuinely new to say” [1] by all means, feel free to share it.

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


OK, if 13 year old girls do soft porn videos, totally on their own, I'd call that empowerment. I don't get the distinction from 13 year old guys doing videos about whatever they're into.

But if parents of 13 year old girls are encouraging them to do soft porn videos, that's exploitation. However, check out the pre-teen "modeling" thing in the US. That's basically soft porn, and it's popular.


How is it “empowering” for a 13 year old to do soft porn videos on her own? Can you imagine the amount of pedophiles crawling out of the woodwork to see that, and the dangers it might expose her to?

We have come to such a low point of moral thinking that “who will think of the children?” has become nothing but a meme. But teenage suicide and psychological ills of all kinds are at record record highs, so perhaps it is worth our while to think of the children after all.


It's a tough question.

OK, so I'm making this up, but if I were a 13 year old girl today, and I knew that I could make $1K per day doing soft porn, I wouldn't think twice. I mean, I'd be very careful to stay as anonymous as possible. But seriously, doing YouTube videos is orders of magnitude more secure than hosting a webcam on your public IP address from home.

Maybe you'll call bullshit on that. Because, you know, I'm male. But when I was 13, I was hacking on unexploded WWII munitions that we found lying around in the woods. And that's gotta be at least as hazardous as making soft porn for YouTube.

Also, when I was in my mid teens, I had a 13 year old girlfriend. And she would definitely have made soft porn for YouTube, if it had existed then. Even without the prospect of making $1K per day.

So yeah, it's a tough question. If you think that 13 is too young, what's an OK age?


> Can you imagine the amount of pedophiles crawling out of the woodwork to see that, and the dangers it might expose her to?

With that reasoning, they ought to be wearing burquas.

But the beauty here is that you get to monetize the pedophiles. And of course, good OPSEC is essential, given the dangers.

So the fact this girl uses her meatspace name is an OPSEC fail.


I get that this attitude outrages many people. Especially, I would guess, parents. Because children ought to be protected from themselves.

And maybe it's just that I've never been a parent. So what I remember is what it was like to be a child. Indeed, some would say that I still am a child, and I'm OK with that.

Anyway, when do we get the right to exercise free will? When I was about eight, I felt that I had it. And many religions do think that sinning becomes possible at about that age. So what's magic about 18 or 21?


I remember seeing a video posted on /r/videos about how this girl's parents were probably exploiting her for money and how youtube is not doing anything to stop this.

--edit--

there it is. (please be warned this is very NSFW) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M78rlxEMBxk


For those may not know, Wubby's video (the video you linked to) was taken down by youtube and a strike was incurred on Wubby's account [1], while the video(s) that he criticized continue to remain up.

It was eventually re-instated and the strike removed, but for a while there the drama surrounding this imbalance of discourse was through the roof on reddit.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM4OwGhchUA


Why was the video taken down ?

I have just watched it, so far I disagree with him (this ASMR channel is weird as fuck but I don't think it makes it sexual) but I don't see what would justify taking down his video.


He shows that Youtube says that sexualisation of children is absolutely forbidden on YT, so they banned his video. Yes, this is baffling when they left up the original channel.


I don't understand your sentence.

Do you mean that his video was taken down because it sexualizes a child ?

If so, that's almost as weird as these videos themselves


Yes, his video was taken down because YouTube said it sexualises a child.


“Weird af” was his entire point.


not really.

From what I remember of the video :

He made some very strange "weird shaming" : "if you need to listen to ASMR to fall asleep, you are weird dude".. what if somebody needs to listen to that ? I don't entirely get the appeal, but I don't see how weird shuffled sound are so different from whale songs. And from this video logic, people who listen to that are into bestiality.

His main argument seemed to be that the main goal of this asmr channel is to sexualize a 13 yo. Which if true is obviously very shocking and needs legal action but I did not find his argument very convincing. Some weirdo leaving one comment on her instagram and one weird video are not super convincing.

Proving that there was a pattern of such comments and vids would have been appropriate (and he could have made this video without making fun of random kids)

I would have made similarly weird vids before puberty because I understood maybe 20% of the context.

The accusations are very grave, and they might even be real. I can understand if he does not want to spend months investigating this weird channel but they would warrant a better basis.


Wubby has a couple videos that are great deep dives into seedy, exploitative, multi-million view videos run by obviously sketchy account networks.


What is the danger here? There are kids making more money on youtube doing other things. Is this sexual? Because nearly anything can be sexual for someone. Some are excited by people popping balloons. The only complete answer is to ban kids from youtube, and that isnt going to happen.

Before going after asmr, take a close look at who watches the gymnastics and cheerleading "demos". Pole dancing is also now a sport for kids. That is on youtube too.

I once taught a law class where we had to discuss this stuff. If you take away every "sexualized" image of an under-18 you are blacklisting huge areas of modern culture, everything from family sitcoms to superhero movies. Some disney movies have scenes that are shocking when you play them on thier own, many ironically on youtube... which made playing them during lectures much easier on me.


Interesting that HN is just hearing about this, it made the front page of reddit back in October when a youtuber named wubbey "investigated" it.

His video is both funny and hard to watch due to the extremely awkward sexual undertones. So to answer your question, is this sexual?

Yes, and that seems to be the intent of whoever is running that channel.

See for yourself: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=M78rlxEMBxk


HN is just hearing about it now because it made it to the front page of HN, but HN should never have heard about this.


This issue comes up all the time: is it sexual per se, ie for everyone, or does the viewer make it sexual? Balloons are not sexual. They only become so in the mind of certain viewers. Is asmr always sexual, or does it only become so because a kid is involved? That might say more about the viewer than the material.

Without clarity, if there is room for debate, i side with not restricting the speech rights of these kids.


Out of curiosity did you watch the linked video? This isn't "Pizzagate" looking for pedophilia where it doesn't exist. The girl posted a video titled "sassy cop roleplay" featuring dialog that sounds like it came from a traffic stop in a cheesy 90s porno, but updated with Tinder references. It's not illegal bit that doesn't mean that YouTube has to host it. They've certainly deleted and demonetized videos for less.


Ya, but that is nothing compared to some of the other vids on youtube. Teenagers make and post crazy stuff every day. I am very hesitant to start pointing fingers at behavior that in other context our culture openly encourages and rewards. I dont like it, but it is the sort of thing best left to parents imho. I had some girls at my door last halloween dressed as harley quin. If thier parents are ok with it then im not going to say a word.

Imho they looked less sexy than literaly very cold.


IDK if it is sexual or not, it wasn't for me but it did freaked me out a bit TBH... I mean https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6wi9Ils2OA0 is so stupid... or maybe I'm the stupid one.


This is the first time that I heard of ASMR. Verrrry Innnnteresting!

I work in a similar field. Inducing weird feelings and related trippy stuff. I tend to the other end of the spectrum tho. Crass strobes. Full saturation. Lots of throbbing.

https://vimeo.com/308956882

If we can do drugs via digital audiovideoetc then.... a very important field of development is suggested.


Thanks for sharing, these are really lush. It seems like high-frequency visuals have a lot of latent potential; frequency oscillation has been widely explored with audio, but less so with visuals, even though our ability to rapidly interpret complex rhythmic patterns exists in both fields. There is perhaps a long history of related work you're familiar with, but I first came across this type of phenomena in an early film by Tony Conrad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yY5VryfCRig

Have you experienced significant perceptual changes from viewing them for extended durations? Are there specific sequences / parameters you've found to be more powerful than others?

If you don't mind sharing, I'm also curious to know what language you're using to write the software!


Key elements that I see are

synchronizing the audio with the video. Video strobes correspond to audio strobes.

Some kind of simple physical-metaphor sound and video logic. Like, bigger = lower, smaller= higher. Certain colors correspond to certain sounds. Simple stuff like that.Like cartoon logic.

Total engrossment of the senses. Fill them up compltelely (thus "whelmer"). I see smell, tactile effects... stuff like that, being incorporated later.

There is definitely some kind of trance thing happening.

There is another tech at my site (fleen.org) called "clouded plain" that uses moving intersecting vibrating stripes. MUCH hallucinations off of that. Little kids like it very much. They just stand and stare.

I wrote it in java.

You really should download a hq copy and view it projected large (like 6-10 feet tall) with nice speakers. Here : https://www.dropbox.com/s/6t9skr0ua4le5ma/whelmer46a_5m.mkv?...


The Tony Conrad is definitely the stuff. I'd love to see a hq version. Vimeo and Youtube really degrade it.


Could you talk more about the software that underpins this stuff? I saw in your comment that the audio is based of sampling of the visuals... is this written in Processing or something else?

I used to make stuff like this with processing + arduino for inputs, with some fun results that are sadly lost to time.


It's all open source. See fleen.org for my github.

The vibrating round thing. The "Whelmer". It's these randomly generated moving fuzzy rings. Moving in or out. Intersecting.

The sound isn't so much gotten from a sampling of the visuals as a sampling of the same data that the visuals also sample. That data being a big array of integers, basically.

To see it properly you really should download a high-quality video and watch it projected big (like 6' tall) with good speakers.

Here's a nice one : https://www.dropbox.com/s/6t9skr0ua4le5ma/whelmer46a_5m.mkv?...


Thank you very much! I'll try and see if I can get my hands on a projector again.

Generative art != glitch art, but these might be of interest to some people as well, since there was thread about a week ago on PNG glitching, and I went down a rabbithole saving links.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19075003

http://www.glitchet.com/resources

https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/mgpv3a/heres-what-happens...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tYytVzbPky8


I am also curious about the audio generation.


see my other reply for more on this.

java has a nice low level audio generation tech where you just make a big integer array.

I take a radial sample of this field of cells, convert it to audo.... ok, there is no science going on here. I just fucked with the code until it sounded good. Several magic numbers involved. See my github at fleen.org/generative-art for the actual code. The sound generation is only a few dozen lines.


That was... interesting. Not so much watching but the feeling when the video ended. Sort of like when you drive for a while and stop and everything seems to be moving backward.


You need to watch a high-quality copy to get the full effect

https://www.dropbox.com/s/6t9skr0ua4le5ma/whelmer46a_5m.mkv?...

View it projected large (like 6-10 feet tall). Use good speakers too.


The vimeo link above might need an epilepsy/seizure warning...


well it does say "ULTIMATE STROBE HAZARD"


maybe it's because I've had a couple beers but I sat through the whole video and felt 0 effects after watching that


You need a high-quality copy, viewed projected large, with good speakers, to get the full effect.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/6t9skr0ua4le5ma/whelmer46a_5m.mkv?...


I got to know about ASMR recently thanks to the video that was taken down and the description felt very similar to what I've experienced since I was a kid. I used to even flaunt this as a super power when I was young. Wondering if someone knowledgeable could explain-this-phenomena / suggest-some-literature to me. Reddit probably is the right place to enquire about this but here goes nothing.

I can spontaneously generate this tingling feeling at will by moving my chest muscles ever so slightly. This act lifts my shoulders a tiny bit and results in a mild pulse descending from the back of my head that flows through the spine. Doing this continuously 3-4 times results in goosebumps in the right weather conditions.

I got a similar feeling(comparitively milder than what I could generate spontaneously) when I watched/listened-to one of the ASMR videos which made me wonder if there a way to quantitatively measure these ASMR responses claimed by people.


I made an account to comment on this. I experience a similar thing but the generation feels like it comes from the base of my spine and travels up rather than down. I've been rather unsuccessful at finding out anything substantive about it. There's a lot of woo surrounding it - I'd recommend checking out what people say about Kundalini meditation as it seems to describe what you and I have experienced.

When I was a child I thought it was conscious generation of adrenaline. Now I'm wiser I know that's probably not true, but it certainly feels very similar.


As I sit here reading your comment, I generated same kind of feeling, throat, neck, down spine, and forearms. I thought, "oh yeah, that thing." I guess I can kind of do it at will, though it's sort of difficult to explicitly describe. Almost think that when I focus to do it, the effect is more reluctant.


That's very interesting! Thanks for taking the time out to comment. I'll post it on Reddit and see if I can get more info. Feel free to reach out to me through email. You can find it here - http://compute.vision/

Cheers


I hope this doesn't ruin the kid for real work.


> I hope this doesn't ruin the kid for real work.

Despite the low score at time of this comment, I think this is a defensible concern for the same reason attributing kid's success to hard work leads to better outcomes than attributing it to talent.

The shape of the linkage between work and reward established during development has meaningful implications for discipline/motivation/expectations down the line.

If this kid actually gets rich, the money's treated well, and they stay rich, then good on em. But I wouldn't want to ASMR through my tweens and have the money stop, and then have warped expectations in a reality that doesn't care about those expectations.

On the other hand, if the expectation becomes "you can be spectacularly successful being prolific and meeting the demand of an hungry audience", maybe that's a great lesson.


US median income is roughly $30k, why would you want to do "real work" if you can make a decades worth of money in a year? *

* not saying the particular characteristics of this story are not a little creepy


Isn't that the same argument that could be applied to child actors / singers / performers? I don't know the statistics, I admit, but there seem to be not so many people who were those things are a kid who are happy and well balanced people, and many who are not (or who are dead). Given the sexual undertones of a child doing ASMR, I can't imagine being a child Youtube star is going to work out any better.


Pedophiles.

Just look at some of the comments left on her videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M78rlxEMBxk


I watched it expecting hyperbole, but yeah, this seems very aimed at attracting a 'certain audience'. Then again what do we expect, sexualization of children seems to be increasingly accepted.

I've recently seen media celebrating kids in sexualized drag, not even condemning 11 year olds dancing for money in bars.


That poor kid in drag dancing for dollar bills is in for a _rough_ life.

I'm completely blindsided how HN people are downvoting the comments highlighting the pedophilia.


Also a large portion of the TikTok audience.


If you find it easier to fall asleep with the TV on... you're likely someone who would enjoy ASMR.

I used to think of it as, "That tingling feeling in your head when you learn new things." And there are so many triggers. Throughly enjoyable to explore.

* What The H-ck is ASMR!? - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFqbWwKg_o4

But... yeah, look, the kid doing it in sexy clothing... pure cringe.

* Kids doing ASMR is a problem - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M78rlxEMBxk

As was YouTube's response to all of this. TL;DR: YouTube removed the critic's video of the kid's video, saying the critic's video was "sexual" but they left the kid's video.

* Apparently Kids Doing ASMR Was A Problem: YouTube Deletes Video - YouTube || https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM4OwGhchUA

Now all the videos are back, but some have been de-monetized.


that there is a discussion about this at all is saddening.

cm2187 37 days ago [flagged]

In a way that's the power of capitalism. I don't think any central planning committee in a centralised economy would have ever thought there was a demand for that stuff!


[flagged]


Can you please not post in the flamewar style to HN? Also, your comment seems to break this guideline: "Please respond to the strongest plausible interpretation of what someone says, not a weaker one that's easier to criticize. Assume good faith." Most likely the GP didn't realize that there was this sinister angle, and was just commenting on the nichiness of the genre.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


OP says capitalism provides everything someone is willing to pay for. I agree and point out government meddling is the only thing keeping the market from working and providing all the child sex content pedophiles could possibly want.

I am singing the praises of the unfettered free market. No central bureau would ever think to meet the demand for this stuff.


Can you please just keep the ideological battle comments elsewhere?


Never before have I wished I could downvote a submission.

Edit: Because this is a toxic subject and there will never be interesting or productive conversation about it, not here or anywhere.


Part of me wonders what kind of person pays for these types of videos. $1000 a day is also quite disturbing. First it starts with paying for ASMR videos. Then it becomes paying for underage cam models. I can’t help but see the parallels in the business model here.


I don't think that anyone pays directly. This is estimated ad income.

But viewers most likely include other children. Plus the soft pedophilia market. Which is huge.

And yeah, this is just a more sophisticated take on the cam whore thing. With lots more protection of performers from their audience. As long as it's totally child-driven, I don't think that it's problematic. But when parents are pushing their kids, it becomes exploitation.


nah, she takes "requests" and makes personalized videos, its pretty much straight cam*^^^camgirl


Oops, missed that. I have no Google account, so can't "sign in" to see any of that junk. But damn, "personalized videos". That's totally camgirl.


It is stated in the article that the figure is an estimate for what she is likely making from advertising revenue on YouTube.


The popularity of the channel proves my point. Again, it is the same business model. You didn’t refute that argument at all.


I guess your underlying point is that a business model that sexualizes a 13-yr old is very sketchy and leads to worse things. If so, I agree wholeheartedly!

But who can tell for sure? You did not make a cogent point in your first post since people aren’t paying for these types of videos. They are watching them for free and the money comes from the ads served along side the videos. You should be asking what kind of person pays to sponsors these types of videos. I sorta agree your point isn’t refuted, but that’s mainly because it’s not coherent so logic can’t really be applied.

Anyway, I only point all this out because I think you have a good heart and the right sentiment but are losing the argument in the delivery.

I suspect this stuff is slipping through the cracks because these videos seem like normal nonsense to most people. “People watch videos of people whispering? Weird but so is almost all the rest of what other people watch on YouTube...” But apparently there’s some kind of sexualization in these videos for some people and that’s what actually makes them so popular. Very worrisome when we’re seeing children doing these videos. Raising awareness that these are actually sexual is important. I think 99% of people, including advertisers, just don’t see it and don’t realize it.




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