As with Facebook and X (AKA Twittter), YouTube offers its users an avalanche of visual content ranging from do-it-yourself tutorials to creative performances.
The video-sharing platform, which was launched in 2005, has become the second-biggest social media platform, bursting with more than 2.70 billion users globally and closely trailing behind Facebook’s 2.9 billion users. At least 38.15 million of YouTube’s users are based in Africa, according to statistics.
With its soaring stock of users, YouTube presents a viable medium for disinformation, as seen in a number of YouTube accounts analysed by Prime Progress.
JoeGE, for one, poses to be the first Kenyan to appear on America’s Got Talent, an American reality television show popular for its showcase of creative performers jostling for the top prize of US $1 million. Since 2022, Joege has shared video fragments of himself singing at the AGT.
In a particular video shared in 2022, JoeGE is seen introducing himself as George to a judge, with another cheering his music performance.
An analysis by Prime Progress, however, proved that the performance and the judges’ comments were doctored.
First is JoeGE’s voice, which varies according to each performance. Find instances here, here, here, and here. Another is his appearance on stage, including his interaction with the judges, which is so unreal and stilted.
Another thing that raised more suspicion is how the user has been sharing videos of himself on AGT for more than one season.
JoeGE’s YouTube page has 707,000 subscribers, with 80 videos shared. His videos have drawn huge views and comments from unsuspecting users.
In response to one of the clips, an account with the name @adee01 said, “This guy should be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the most golden buzzers ever on AGT.”
@carolygerlitz 6262 said, “WOW! Many blessings to this young man. AGT needs more people like him to honour God.”
With others, it still did not seem like AGT.
Yet JoeGE is not alone in the business of doctoring popular reality shows to attract traffic. Another YouTube account named “Baby Native” also shared a few videos of herself singing on the AGT stage. As with JoeGE, her performance is shown to strike a chord with the judges and draw teary responses from the audience.
Unlike JoeGE’s account, “Baby Native” boasts only 14,000 subscribers, with only 7 videos uploaded to the channel. Notwithstanding, her video clips have attracted numerous comments as seen here and here.
The Verification Process
Starting from the first account that Prime Progress discovered, we employed video verification tools to confirm if JoeGE was at any point in America’s Got Talent.
Using Google reverse image search on a recent video posted by JoeGE, Prime Progress was directed to another video on YouTube, showing that the actual clip was cut from the second episode of the 2024 AGT auditions. JoeGe, the Kenyan YouTube user, is not seen in the entire clip.
Prime Progress visited the social media pages of both America’s Got Talent and Britain’s Got Talent, but none of these YouTube users featured in the pages of the talent shows.
JohGE’s and the numerous doctored claims on YouTube represent the wide reach to which social media users deploy false and misleading content for traffic on their pages.