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YouTube is censoring a content creator who singe-handedly infiltrated and exposed an alleged pyramid scheme. For more than a decade, YouTube has been a platform that rewards creativity and original content. Unmatched by any competitor, its worst enemy is itself. For years, YouTube has been subjected to cancel culture, leading the platform to needlessly censor content creators.
Marco runs a YouTube channel called, "Always Marco". The investigative journalist is a relatively new YouTuber, having uploaded videos for just over a year now. Marco has already seen some success on his channel. His most popular video has over 200,000 views, and his latest video was slated to go viral if YouTube had not taken it down. What makes him different? Primarily, it's his courage.
His most viewed video features Marco infiltrating the World Financial Group, a multi-level marketing corporation, widely regarded as a pyramid scheme. He uses both selfie and hidden cameras to expose seminars and situations that are often only seen by scammers and those caught in their web. He also is not afraid to confront these people, as seen in his two-part WFG video.
The Censored Video
Following up on his previous infiltration video, Marco discovers another alleged pyramid scheme called ACN. ACN is a North American-based multi-level marketing company, which focuses primarily on telecommunications.
In the video, Marco puts on a hidden camera and attends a seminar at a luxury penthouse, which is supposedly rented just for that evening. The seminar is presented by a man named Nathan Goldberg. He identifies himself as a "Senior Vice-President" for ACN.
Goldberg then gives a seminar, describing how he ran a business called Egg-Spectations in Montreal (Marco immediately revealed that he was in fact an employee at this business, not an owner), and how he became wealthy by using ACN. Naturally, like everyone who becomes extremely wealthy, Goldberg sought to share his wealth by teaching others how to use the system. Part of Goldberg's presentation is altruism. He states that they donate to food banks Canada, and how he was poor but now he wants to help others.
Marco believes this is a manipulation. "'because we love it, and we wanna help!' That is what they always say. 'Because I have enough money and I wanna put value into the world and help people, because I come from a single mom and I was born on a dirt floor in Mexico,' and they all have these rags to riches story."
Goldberg asks attendees to pay a one-time $199 sign up fee and begin the process of getting "passive income," which is essentially the idea of getting paid residually for doing nothing.
Marco explains that on the surface, ACN presents itself as a legitimate service for telecommunications and banking, yet the pyramid is found in the referral system. Attendees are told that they will receive hundreds of dollars in passive income by merely referring friends to join. This is more appealing compared to the one percent commission one would earn by selling phone plans.
"I look at MLM's [Multi-Level-Marketing Schemes] like a dry cleaners that has a secret meth lab in the back. Sure it's a legit dry cleaners, but underneath that, the real engine that's bringing in the big bucks is the meth lab," explains Marco.
This is seemingly how groups like ACN manage to slip through the legal cracks.
Nathan states in the video that when he is accused of running a Pyramid Scheme, he says "You're right! You be right, I'll be rich."
"I personally do not think the people who join MLMs are bad people. Often times, it is people who are struggling and are naïve. Based on the demographics I showed in the video, it's old people, immigrants, college age students," Marco remarked in our interview.
A 2011 study by the Consumer Awareness Institute found that 99.6 percent of people lose money in MLM's. It also found that based on Las Vegas statistics, you have a better chance winning at gambling.
When Marco published the video, it became immediately popular. This led to ACN completely deleting any trace of Nathan Goldberg from their website. He is no longer listed as a Senior Vice President and a link to his profile is now broken. There is still however, one video featuring Goldberg.
Eventually, Nathan filed a copyright strike against Marco's video, and successfully had it removed from YouTube on August 15. This was just 5 days after it was published.
After multiple requests, YouTube reinstated the video on September 2, only to have Nathan file a defamation claim and have it taken down again.
This pattern continued as the video went back up once more, only to be taken down again.
The video is in fact in "fair use," and should thus not be taken down according to YouTube's rules.
Marco is an Alberta based YouTuber who was inspired to start his journey on the platform by his close friend, Phillip. Phillip or PhillipSoloTV is a highly successful YouTuber with over half a million subscribers. His style is unique to the platform, using a topical YouTube form of journalism to investigate the "Worst Reviewed Restaurant In My City", or "Meeting The Most Expensive Escort In My City".
This esoteric style of content creation inspired Marco to join the platform.
Marco seems incredibly passionate about his work, based on our interview. I asked him to tell me more about the types of people who are susceptible to joining these schemes, and he recalled one instance during his undercover sting.
"Interestingly enough, during the ACN video, in the beginning of the video, when I am in that penthouse meeting, one of the Filipino kids that was there came up to me and said 'yo! You're Marco, I recognize you from the WFG video,' and I thought my cover was blown and that the whole video was gonna be a wash," Marco said.
When he played along and asked the kid what he was doing there, he said, "I'm joining!"
Although the interaction didn't blow Marco's cover, he says it demoralized him. "These MLM's are so good at convincing people they are legit, that they can't even differentiate one MLM from another," he said.
Marco then explained what he has noticed while investigating these pyramid schemes, which is the "but this is different," factor.
"You guys have heard of direct selling before, essential oils, skincare, makeup, etc. But THIS is different." It's a shame because that kid saw my WFG video and totally got it, and then with this shit, he was lost."
Marco is considering his legal options regarding the video, but he remains nonetheless dedicated to creating more content.
In a media landscape riddled by fake news and bias, Marco is staying true to the original beauty of YouTube and independent content creation. The question remains. Why is YouTube censoring such a strong independent voice?
The video remains taken down at the time of this publication.