12 Fascinating Facts About YouTube

IStock
IStock

Like most of the world’s population with Internet access, we love YouTube. After all, where would society be without on-demand access to footage of cats getting stuck in boxes? Probably way more productive—but also a whole lot less entertaining. Check out 12 things you may not know about the world’s single biggest exporter of Rick Astley.  

1. You could have given YouTube a secret retro look. 

YouTube

Founded in 2005, YouTube escaped the visual nightmare that was the Internet circa the 1990s. But the site allowed users to give give it a cool retro look for their Geek Week promotion in 2013 by typing a “/ geekweek” code into the search prompt.

2. One early YouTube attempt to find content was a little creepy. 

According to the book YouTube: The Company and Its Founders, when the site needed some kind of video library during its 2005 launch, programmers decided to hit up Craig’s List in Los Angeles and Las Vegas with an offer: They’d pay $20 to any woman willing to upload 10 videos of herself to the site. Nobody replied.

3. Artificial intelligence loves YouTube cat videos, too. 

In 2012, researchers at Google’x X lab constructed a neural computer network and let it “browse” YouTube. After combing through 10 million screen captures, the A.I. began to be able to distinguish between human and cat faces with consistency despite not being programmed to do so. Jeff Dean, who led the research, told press that “It basically invented the concept of a cat.”  

4. One of the most popular YouTube cats isn't a real cat.

Simon’s Cat, an animated video series about a plump feline from animator Simon Tofield, has been viewed over a half-billion times, according to YouTube. That means Simon outranks actual kitten hall-of-famers like Maru, Grumpy Cat, and the one-hit wonder Surprised Kitty.

5. You can blur your face in a YouTube video.

YouTube

We’ve all been there: taking police cars out for joyrides and recording it, but worried about identifying details. Fortunately, Google remedied that back in 2012 by introducing a face-blurring feature for uploaders. Software detects facial features and obscures them, but it’s not selective, so if you want to smudge one face, you’ll have to smudge them all.

6. YouTube once pulled down all the Hitlers. 

Downfall, a film depicting the final days of Adolf Hitler, features a scene where the Fuhrer throws a bit of a tantrum. Ever since, hundreds of videos have been created that plug in subtitles to (mis)represent the leader making a fuss over everything from bad customer service to Ben Affleck being cast as Batman. In 2010, Constantin Film alerted the site to the parodies and wanted them removed. YouTube complied, but it was a game of Whack-a-Mole: New videos were being uploaded constantly—including one in which Hitler complains about being removed from YouTube.

7. Journey found their new lead singer on YouTube. 

Losing a voice as distinctive as Steve Perry’s was a big blow to the band Journey, which had to make do without their lead vocalist beginning in 1996. In 2007, guitarist Neal Schon was browsing YouTube when he came across a video by Arnel Pineda, part of a Philippines Journey cover group. Pineda sounded so remarkably like Perry that Schon and the band signed him to a deal. They’ve been touring ever since.    

8. Unboxing toys can make YouTube stars millionaires.

The thrill of opening boxes should never be underestimated. Ryan of Ryan ToysReview [sic] made $22 million between June of 2017 and June of 2018. Ryan, 7, unboxes toys of all kinds and is paid via advertisers and sponsors.

9. YouTube will give you a gold-plated button for getting one million subscribers.

YouTube

Got a cute cat? Have a neat idea involving Diet Coke and Mentos? Then you just may have a shot at getting one million subscribers to your YouTube channel. If you do, the site will commemorate the occasion by sending you a 24-karat gold-plated Play button. Only 100,000 subs? That’s all right: they’ll send you a silver button. Less than 100,000? Get to work.

10. The longest video on YouTube is nearly 600 hours. 

When Jonathan Harchick uploaded a 571 hour video comprised of photo slides he took while touring Chile, he dared someone to try and top it. No one did, so he took it upon himself. Via his Moldy Toaster Media channel, Harchick delivered a 596.5 hour slog of a two-tone color pattern switching places. Leave it on and come back in 24 days. It will still be playing.

11. One YouTube video was declared fine art.

Artist Petra Cortwright used her webcam to compose the above video, which she auctioned off during a 2013 digital art show held at the Phillips auction house. Titled rgb,d-lay, it depicts Cortwright holding her hair in a loop. The original video file was auctioned—Cortwright put a USB drive in a fancy box for the winner—and appraised based on the number of hits it had at the time of sale. It sold for $3200.

12. YouTube viewers really want to know how to kiss. 

YouTube has long since replaced those old Time-Life books on home repair, with thousands of videos devoted to instructionals. But according to the site, the most-searched tutorial in 2015 wasn’t for fixing a leaky faucet: it was for how to kiss. (Number four: how to get a six-pack in three minutes.)

15 Convenient Products That Are Perfect for Summer

First Colonial/Lunatec/Safe Touch
First Colonial/Lunatec/Safe Touch

The Fourth of July is the epitome of summer—and after several months spent indoors, you need some outdoor fun more than anything. Check out these 15 summer must-haves while they’re on sale and save an extra 15 percent when you spend $50 or more with the code JULYFOURTH15.

1. CARSULE Pop-Up Cabin for Your Car; $300 (20 percent off)

Carsule tent from Mogics.
Mogics

This tent connects to your hatchback car like a tailgate mobile living room. The installation takes just a few minutes and the entire thing stands 6.5 feet tall so you can enjoy the outdoors from the comfort of your car.

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2. Mosquito Killer Lamp; $30 (25 percent off)

Mosquito-killing lamp.
Kinkoo

If you just so happen to be one of those unlucky souls who attracts a suspicious amount of mosquitos the second you step outside, you need this repellent lamp to help keep your arms and legs bite-free. It uses a non-toxic combination of LED lights, air turbulence, and other methods to keep the pests at bay.

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3. Super Shield Mosquito Repellent Electronic Watch Band; $17 (57 percent off)

Mosquito repeller watch.
Safe Touch

While a lamp is a great non-toxic solution for keeping bugs at bay, active individuals need a bug repellent that can keep up with their lifestyle. This wrist wearable keeps you safe from mosquitoes anywhere by using ultrasonic sounds to drive them away.

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4. ZeroDark 3-Piece Tactical Set: Flashlight, Lantern, and Headlamp; $20 (66 percent off)

Aduro flashlight set.
Audro

If you want your summer to be lit, this set will do the trick. All puns aside, this trio of LED brightness is perfect for camping fun and backyard parties, or it can be stored in the car for emergencies.

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5. Outdoor Collapsible Cooler and Camp Table Set; $64 (27 percent off)

First Colonial cooler.
First Colonial

Cookouts are easy with this cooler and table set that chills your drink until you're ready to pop it into one of the four convenient cupholders. Bring this set camping or out by the pool for convenience anywhere.

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6. Trident: Underwater Scooter; $550 (21 percent off)

Trident underwater scooter.
Geneinno

If you’ve ever dreamed of better mobility while exploring the water, you’re not alone. The Trident underwater scooter, which raised over $82,000 on Indiegogo, can propel you through the water at up to nearly 6 feet per second, which isn't that far off from how fast Michael Phelps swam in his prime. The battery on it will last 45 minutes, allowing you to traverse with ease.

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7. Go Portable Solar Oven; $119 (14 percent off)

GoSun solar grill.
GoSun

Bake, roast, steam, or broil anywhere you bring this portable oven. Measuring in at just over a foot long and weighing only two pounds, the oven will work in most daytime weather conditions and can hold around 13 ounces of food.

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8. 3-in-1 Waterproof Bug Zapper Lantern; $25 (50 percent off)

3P Experts bug zapper.
3P Experts

Mosquitoes tend to be a big problem at night, partly because it's hard to swat in the dark. This lantern will light the area and zap mosquitos from nipping at you in the process.

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9. Urban E-Skateboard: Basic Version (Orange); $120 (73 percent off)

Urban Rover E-Skateboard
Urban Rover

This e-skateboard is perfect for getting around during the summer. You'll catch a breeze while you’re cruising on the battery-powered platform and won’t break a sweat when you pop the compact board in your bag.

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10. H2 Headlamp: Waterproof, Rechargeable LED Wide 180° Angle Headlight; $37 (26 percent off)

Headlamp from One80Light
One80Light

Camping, car troubles, and sports all pose a problem at night. This LED headlight will light up your surroundings across a 180-degree radius for prime visibility, meaning your outdoor activities won't have to stop when the sun sets.

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11. Whirlwind Cool Bladeless Mini Fan; $22 (63 percent off)

Bladeless fan
Whirlwind

This portable fan comes in a powerful handheld size so you can keep cool while on the move. Unlike other portable fans, this one has a sleek, bladeless design and features three different speeds.

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12. Bladeless Personal Fan; $22 (63 percent off)

Bladeless fan
3P Tech

This bladeless fan won't just keep you cool while you work on your laptop—it also has a built-in rechargable battery that you can use to charge your phone.

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13. MOGICS Coconut: Portable Waterproof Light; $37 (24 percent off)

Mogics portable lamp.
Mogics

This portable light is designed to adapt to your lighting preference. It self-inflates in a few seconds and can bounce, get wet, and set the mood.

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14. Lunatec 1L Hydration Spray Water Bottle; $25 (21 percent off)

Lunatec spray water bottle.
Lunatec

A water bottle can do more than hydrate you. This one has a spray nozzle that can create shower, stream, and mist patterns for doing dishes while camping, sharing a sip without sharing germs, and washing off those muddy shoes after a long hike.

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15. Sport Force Hydration Backpack; $25 (68 percent off)

Hydration backpack.
It's All Goods

Hiking enthusiasts know how important it is to stay hydrated, but carrying around awkward jugs of water is a hassle. This unique hydration backpack can be filled with two liters of water and features a convenient drinking nozzle that extends to the user's mouth. Now, you can replenish those fluids without breaking stride.

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This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

10 Facts About The Blue Lagoon On Its 40th Anniversary

Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields star in The Blue Lagoon (1980).
Christopher Atkins and Brooke Shields star in The Blue Lagoon (1980).
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Brooke Shields was just 14 years old when she filmed The Blue Lagoon, the infamously sexy and slightly salacious island-set romance that capitalized on burgeoning hormones in a big way. The film was shocking when it debuted on July 5, 1980—but even 40 years later, it can still make jaws drop. Here’s a look at some of its more compelling tidbits, complete with undiscovered iguanas and a nifty trick to cover up nudity.

1. The Blue Lagoon is based on a trilogy of books by Henry De Vere Stacpoole.

Although the film closely follows the events of the first book in Henry De Vere Stacpoole’s series, also called The Blue Lagoon, the film’s sequel (1991’s Return to the Blue Lagoon) breaks with the storyline presented in the 1920s-era trilogy to essentially re-tell the original story (read: more tanned teens falling in love on a tropical island). Stacpoole’s books were far more concerned with the culture of the South Seas population, particularly as it was being further influenced by the arrival of European cultures.

2. The Blue Lagoon was adapted into a film twice before.

In 1923, director W. Bowden crafted a silent version of the story. More than a quarter-century later, British filmmaker Frank Launder made a very well-received version for the big screen in 1949, starring Jean Simmons and Donald Houston. The film was immensely popular, becoming the seventh-highest grossing domestic film at the U.K. box office that year.

3. The Blue Lagoon's costume team came up with a clever trick to keep Brooke Shields covered up.

Brooke Shields was just 14 years old when she filmed The Blue Lagoon, which led to some challenges for the production team, especially as Shields’s Emmeline is frequently topless. So the costume designers hatched an ingenious (and, really, just kind of obvious) way to keep her covered up at all times: they glued her long-haired wig to her body.

4. Brooke Shields’s age was an issue for a long time.

Even after The Blue Lagoon was long wrapped, completed, and released into theaters, issues related to Shields’s age at the time of filming still lingered. Years later, Shields testified before a U.S. Congressional inquiry that body doubles—of legal age—were used throughout filming.

5. The Blue Lagoon was nominated for an Oscar.

Cinematographer Néstor Almendros was nominated for his work on The Blue Lagoon. And while he lost out to Geoffrey Unsworth and Ghislain Cloquet for Tess, he already had one Oscar at home for his contributions to Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven (1978). The skilled DP, who passed away in 1992, was also nominated for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Sophie’s Choice (1982).

6. A new species of iguana was discovered when it appeared in The Blue Lagoon.

Parts of the film were lensed on a private island that is part of Fiji, one of the habitats of the now-critically endangered Fiji crested iguana. The iguana appeared throughout the film, and when herpetologist John Gibbons caught an early screening of the feature, he realized that the animal that kept popping up on the big screen wasn't a familiar one. So he traveled to Fiji (specifically, to the island of Nanuya Levu), where he discovered the Fiji crested iguana, an entirely new Fijian native.

7. The Blue Lagoon won a Razzie.

Despite its stellar source material and Oscar-nominated camerawork, The Blue Lagoon wasn’t beloved by everyone: The Razzies foisted a Worst Actress award on Shields. The actress won (lost? hard to tell?) over an extremely mixed bag of other nominees that somehow also included Shelley Duvall for The Shining. Come on, Razzies.

8. The Blue Lagoon director Randal Kleiser hatched a plan to get his stars to like each other.

Because the chemistry between the two leads was vital to the success of The Blue Lagoon, director Randal Kleiser (who also directed Grease) came up with the idea to get star Christopher Atkins feeling a little lovestruck with Shields by putting a picture of the young starlet over Atkins’s bed. Staring at Shields every night apparently did rouse some feelings in Atkins; the duo had a brief romance while filming. "Brooke and I had a little bit of a romantic, innocent sort of romance in the very beginning of the film," Atkins told HuffPost. “It was very nice—we were very, very close friends."

9. Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins's affection didn’t last for long.

Despite their early attachment, Shields and Atkins soon began bickering nonstop. “Brooke got tired of me,” Atkins told People in 1980. “She thought I took acting too seriously. I was always trying to get into a mood while she would be skipping off to joke with the crew.” Still, Kleiser even capitalized on that, using the tension to fuel the more frustrated scenes, lensing the tough stuff while his leads were tussling.

10. The Blue Lagoon's film shoot basically took place on a desert island.

Kleiser was desperate to capture authenticity for the film, going so far as to live like his characters while making it. "To shoot this kind of story, I wanted to get as close to nature as possible and have our crew live almost like the characters," Kleiser said. "We found an island in Fiji that had no roads, water, or electricity, but beautiful beaches. We built a village of tents for the crew to live in and had a small ship anchored in the lagoon for our camera equipment and supplies. This filming approach was quite unusual, but it just seemed right for this project."

This story has been updated for 2020.