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Manipulating the audience and playing on emotions: how content goes viral

In an interview with the head of Fabiosa Media, we explain how videos go viral and gain tens or hundreds of millions of views. How the creators of viral content essentially play on the emotions of ordinary people to get as many likes, shares, and views as possible.

You’ve probably encountered these short viral videos countless times. Perhaps you even believed they were real, not staged. After all, the company that produced them makes every effort to tug at the emotions of gullible viewers.

Last December, we wrote about one of these videos. In it, a wounded soldier allegedly fell and spilled some fruit onto the road. Some fruit was run over by a car, while the rest was taken by a passerby. Unfortunately, many Ukrainians believed this was a real incident.

Recently, the website published an interview with the head of Fabiosa Media, the company that filmed this scene. The article states the following:

“We work with an audience that generates 7-10 billion views per month - in total, on all platforms. We have 166 million followers on Facebook, 20 million on YouTube, 1.5 million on Instagram, and already 100,000 on Snapchat, which we entered quite recently. These numbers are constantly growing every month.”

The company’s videos on Facebook and some YouTube channels are indeed garnering hundreds of millions of views. Fabiosa Media has Ukrainian roots, but according to their official website, their office is located in Cyprus. It’s likely that taxes from these millions of views go there, not to Ukraine.

Often, videos from this company are re-uploaded to various media platforms and social networks by ordinary users. While the original publications contain a disclaimer, at least in the last seconds, stating that “names, characters, signs, places, and events are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons or events is purely coincidental,” the re-uploads usually cut this off. That’s why viewers are misled into believing that everything is the plain, unvarnished truth.

In order to recognize a video by this company and avoid falling for its emotional manipulation, please pay attention to the following details:

1. The pink letter “F,” which is usually located in the top corner;

2. A red circle that the authors use to highlight certain elements of the video they want to underline; 

3. A blurred spot. Sometimes the letter “F” is blurred out.

In our opinion, these videos are morally controversial.

Firstly, they can cause negative emotional reactions in viewers. The videos often depict allegedly sick or dishonest people with antisocial and strange behaviour.

Secondly, the warnings about fiction are hardly noticeable, and the videos attempt to pass themselves off as real events. By playing on people’s emotions, the company is full steam ahead in terms of views and monetization. Despite the seemingly socially-oriented nature of the content, money is almost the sole goal of their activities.

Thirdly, such videos contribute to the spread of stereotypes. Unfortunately, many of them were created in Ukraine small logo

фактчекерка на всі крильця
Halyna Dolynna
Halyna Dolynna
editor of the English texts
01 / 01