Michael Moore’s Planet of the Humans is a trash film that contains massive amounts of disinformation and dabbles in ecofascism. Turns out it also contained copyrighted material.
The film racked up 8 million views and gained major traction with climate deniers and right wing groups thanks to YouTube hosting it and featuring it on Earth Day. But now the platform has pulled the video over copyright infringement. Good riddance.
Planet of the Humans is full of problematic themes. The so-called documentary ignores the promise of solar and wind energy, relying on an outmoded view of the industry. It then offers population control as the solution to the climate crisis. This line of thinking is dangerous. It borders on eco-fascism, which props up white supremacy for the sake of saving the planet. No thanks, dude.
Toby Smith, an environmental photographer, found another issue with the film: It contains some of his work without his permission. He was not happy to see, and he didn’t waste time trying to work with Gibbs and Moore. He went straight to YouTube, filing a complaint over the weekend.
“I went directly to YouTube rather than approaching the filmmakers because I wasn’t interested in negotiation,” Smith said to the Guardian. “I don’t support the documentary. I don’t agree with its message, and I don’t like the misleading use of facts in its narrative.”
YouTube is notoriously bad at taking down content. But the streaming video service listened in this case and took the film down to due to Smith’s complaint. It’s something environmental groups and climate scientists have been pushing for since the film’s Earth Day release, though for different reasons.
The company has a record of profiting off undeniably awful shit like pedophilia, misinformation, and hate speech. Every click, every view — even those supporting conspiracy theories or lies — sends money the company’s way. Climate denial, in particular, is big on the video streamer’s platform and another source of the company’s profits. A study last year found that conspiracy theorists and misinformation dominate the platform’s climate science content, and Planet of the Humans is the most high profile addition. Most recently, the company has come under fire for making money off videos promoting dangerous and unproven coronavirus cures, including “videos pushing herbs.”
The film’s director, Jeff Gibbs, is trying to bring the film back online. He sees its removal as “another attempt by the film’s opponents to subvert the right to free speech,” per a statement to Deadline. There’s a good chance that climate deniers will rally around this, adding fuel to the fire. It could also add fuel to the fire of untrue claims of conservatives griping about liberal bias online, including the president himself.
Will YouTube bring this dumb-arse movie back? I sure hope not. People need facts these days. One fewer terrible YouTube video alone won’t fix the climate misinformation crisis, but at least the company won’t keep making money off it.