Someone on YouTube live streamed an old interview with Tim Cook that was ostensibly used to draw attention to a crypto scam — and when it went live, tens of thousands of viewers were tuning in.
If you have seen crypto scams on YouTube before, you would have recognized many features of what was going on. The fake live stream gained attention by filling the description with a series of Apple keywords in both the title and description. But when you actually opened it, it was full of strange messages linking to a shady crypto site.
The stream had many signs that it was fake. It had an odd title: “Apple Event Live. Apple CEO Tim Cook: Apple & Metaverse in 2022.” — and it showed an old interview that CNN performed with Cook in 2018. The streamer added the Bitcoin and Ethereum logos to the video stream, covered the CNN Money logo that reads “Apple Crypto Event 2022” and added bold text “URGENT NEWS” at the bottom. And if you actually clicked on the channel page (which claimed to be “Apple LIVE”), the URL had nothing to do with Apple. That could indicate that the channel had a different purpose at one point, but was hijacked by bad actors and used to host the stream.
YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Shortly after this story was published, the stream was removed for a violation of YouTube’s terms of service.
While the fake live stream was clearly not actually Apple’s, it happened when a big spotlight was on the company. Apple streamed its big iPhone 14 announcement event hours ago, and CEO Tim Cook is currently being interviewed at Vox Media’s Code conference tonight. This deceptive stream appeared to be an attempt to mislead people who may know Apple is having a big day but aren’t quite sure what’s going on.
I stumbled upon this stream because it was recommended on my YouTube homepage – that may have been partly because I spent all day watching Apple videos from the event. When I first started watching the fake stream, there were about 16K viewers, and right before I first published this story, that number was close to 70K.
The edge also found a livestream on a separate (and also vague) channel and claimed it was “Apple Inc” [sic]. The stream claimed to be an event with Cook and Tesla CEO Elon Musk about Apple and the metaverse, but it was actually a new destination an interview about Bitcoin with Musk and Block leader Jack Dorsey. It saw stream numbers reach over 10,000 viewers, and also linked to a sketchy-looking crypto site in the chat. It has also been removed.
Update September 7, 10:54 PM ET: YouTube has removed the live streams.
Janice has been with businesskinda for 5 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider businesskinda team, Janice seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.