A false conspiracy theory claiming Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden wore a wire during the first debate on September 29 has spread significantly on YouTube, and the platform has even made money off of some of the videos.
The conspiracy theory claims photographs and videos from the debate show he was wearing a wire under his coat and in his sleeve. In reality, they show a crease in Biden’s shirt and a rosary around his wrist that he wears to honor his late son Beau Biden.
Nonetheless, the conspiracy theory has gone viral on YouTube: Media Matters found videos with a combined total of at least 1.5 million views during our review on the tracking tool BuzzSumo of videos posted after the debate with “Biden” and “wire” in the title.
In particular, the review found that at least three videos carried revenue-generating ads -- meaning both the videos’ creators and YouTube made money off of election misinformation. One of those videos was from The Next News Network, a conspiracy theory channel verified by YouTube that frequently pushes misinformation.
The conspiracy theory has also spread on other platforms, such as TikTok and Twitter, and it comes at the heels of another conspiracy theory about Biden wearing an earpiece that also spread on social media.