YouTube’s chain gang

DETROIT (MCT) – YouTube is filled with a wild collection of videos posted by different people on different topics all around the world, but they all have one thing in common: chain letters.

Look at any of the featured or most popular videos posted on at the moment, and you’ll see tiny chain letters appear as comments, which have typically been posted throughout the last few days.

“PLEASE DON’T READ THIS,” starts one of the dozens of chain letters posted on a featured YouTube video recently. “You will die in seven days if you don’t post this comment on at least 10 other videos in the next hour, if you do tomorrow will be the best day of your life.”

Like most things on YouTube, they started seriously. They were mostly variations on the “pass this along or bad things will happen!!” messages you’ve probably been mailed, faxed or e-mailed at least once during the last 30 years.

But then a funny thing happened: YouTubers took over. The chain letter messages had always been amusing – because of lack of space, some read more like chain haikus – but suddenly, popping up alongside them were spoofed chain letters from other users.

Those joke chain messages took on a life of their own, spreading to videos where normal chain letters hadn’t even been posted.

Then people started posting videos about chain letter messages, and people posted comments on those videos with new chain letter messages … and before you knew it, virtually every major video on the site had been virally infected by serious or satirical chain letters, to the point that it’s now impossible to avoid them if you spend any length of time there.

“I wonder if you read all the chain letters ever made, and then don’t repost them, who gets to kill you, the ghost, the little girl, or that mysterious man?” mused a YouTube user who goes by the name Asillytractor.

For a selection of videos on chain letters, search the site for “chain letter.” Warning: Not all YouTube videos are family-friendly.