Hundreds of YouTube channels have had their videos removed from the site following a BBC investigation that found the widespread promotion of an essay-writing service as a way for students to cheat at school.
Last week, the BBC published an investigation which found that more than 250 channels had promoted a Ukranian company called EduBirdie, which sells essays to desperate students. The company says that its services are useful for “research into the subject, generating initial input for for further reasoning and citations…paraphrasing in accordance with major educational standards as well as tailored to your college / university guidelines for plagiarism.” It sponsored hundreds of YouTube channels, who told their viewers that it was a an easy and cheap way to pass their classes. In this instance, the BBC found that the videos containing the endorsements were viewed more than 700 million times.
Following the BBC’s investigation, YouTube notified influencers to say that it would take down videos that didn’t comply with its policies. The BBC noted that that selling the papers isn’t illegal, but YouTube says that while creators can include paid advertisements in their videos, they can only do so if said promotion complies with its policies. This is where the influencers ran into trouble: promoting so-called “Academic Aids” defined as test-taking and academic paper-writing services are prohibited, resulting in the removal of a number of videos. The BBC noted that some channels had over a hundred videos removed.
In a statement to the BBC, EduBirdie parent company Boosta says that it gave “influencers total freedom on how they prefer to present the EduBirdie platform to their audience in a way they feel would be most relevant to their viewers.”
In the last decade, an entire industry geared towards ghostwriting papers for students of all levels has appeared, allowing grade, college, and graduate students to cheaply purchase work to pass their classes. In 2010, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a report by Ed Dante (who later revealed himself as Dave Tomar) called The Shadow Scholar, in which he claimed to have helped write thousands of pages of academic work for students, facilitated through a website like EduBirdie.