Ok, so I went through the entirety of your joke-stealing claims to see if these were cases of blatant ripoffs, coincidentally similar ideas, or something in between.

  1. Will It Waffle?” vs. BuzzFeed’s “Can You Waffle It?”

I would find it pretty hard to believe that BuzzFeed wasn’t aware of “Will It Waffle” prior to creating this video. At the very least, I think they could have included a brief note at the end saying “Thanks to ‘Will It Waffle’ for the inspiration.”

2. It’s Akilah Obviously’s “How Black People Feel About” vs. BuzzFeed’s “Ask An Asian

I think BuzzFeed has a long history of producing humorous content through the point of view of a particular minority and we’ve seen lots of similar content created on other YouTube channels, so I don’t think BuzzFeed is ripping off any particular channel in this case.

3. TigerTomato’s entire channel vs. BuzzFeed’s “Artists try pancake art sponsored by Holiday Inn Express

TigerTomato didn’t invent pancake art and there are pancake art videos that predate it. I’m going to say this isn’t a ripoff since it’s a well known genre. This is like saying George RR Martin ripped off Robert Jordan because both wrote fantasy novels.

4. It’s Akilah Obviously’s “How to Be an Introvert” vs. BuzzFeed’s “A Perfect Weekend for Introverts”

Similar thumbnail aside, there’s just way too much “X things only introverts understand” content on the internet for me to believe that BuzzFeed is ripping off a particular video. There are some similarities with the time lapses of you watching Netflix, so I could maybe get where you’re coming from on this.

As a side note: I don’t like that both videos push untrue myths about introverts. Seems kind of lazy in my opinion.

5. Cut.com’s “100 Years of Beauty” vs. BuzzFeed’s “100 Years of” series

Yeah, it’s hard to argue that BuzzFeed isn’t ripping off Cut.com’s video. They’re blatantly cut from the same cloth. Though I did learn something interesting and new from the BuzzFeed video. Like the case with “Will It Waffle,” I think BuzzFeed would have been fine if it just acknowledged at some point that it was inspired by someone else’s idea.

So I think it’s clear that BuzzFeed certainly borrows ideas from internet culture and sometimes crosses the line. Then again, I think, in a lot of ways, this is the essence of internet culture; every meme has an original source that it references and builds off from, and I like how internet users often take an original idea and expand it into an entire subgenre. Of course, it’s a lot different when a random person does it compared to when it’s done by venture-backed company valued in the billions.

Written by

Tech and media journalist. Email me: simonowens@gmail.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store