An unknown and mysterious person started the “unfavorable semicircle” YouTube channel back in March, 2015, and has been posting thousands of disturbing and unsettling videos ever since.
Users on the popular social media platform Reddit have been trying to work out who “unfavorable semicircle” is, and what his or her videos might actually mean. They even set up a complete and searchable video database for fellow users.
The first video was uploaded five days after opening the new YouTube channel, starting the ongoing mystery. The video was titled ♐230511, and ran for four seconds. It had no audio and merely featured a static brown image with what appears to be a tiny, blurry hole with what looks like a TV test pattern on the right. Watch that video below.
Commenters on that video tried to work out what it was all about with several different theories and one person said, “How cute, what you’re doing here is nothing original. Webdriver Torso has already beat you.”
However, Webdriver Torso reportedly turned out to be a test channel used by YouTube itself, and was not in any way similar to the strange and short video from “unfavorable semicircle.”
Since then, the channel has seen uploads of over 80,000 similar videos, all very short and all completely mysterious in content. Many, like the first video, are silent, while others have tantalizing clues in the form of a muffled or garbled voice and other background noises.
According to Atlas Obscura, up until February this year, “unfavorable semicircle” was uploading videos at the rate of one or more every ten minutes. However, since February 5, the upload rate has gone sky high, with up to three videos uploaded every minute. They calculate that by the end of March this year, the YouTube channel will have over 200,000 videos in total to its name, and still no one will be any the wiser as to the reason and meaning of the videos or the person behind them.
— Christian Bok (@christianbok) February 24, 2016
As noted by Redditors, thousands of the videos now feature what is termed “The Voice,” which is unmistakably male and usually speaks a single letter or number, or a string of letters and numbers, usually with no apparent connection between them.
Atlas Obscura describes the voice as seemingly coming from some far-off digital dystopia, “all-knowing but utterly opaque, almost vaguely fascistic.” However, whatever it is, people who have watched the videos find the overall effect is very disquieting.
— Cyber Aggregator (@cybfor) February 24, 2016
One Reddit user, KnotNotNaught, noted the average length of each video is around five seconds and “unfavorable semicircle” does use a few naming conventions, with many posted with a numeric name led by the symbol ♐. However, the names of the last 28,000 or so videos have started with the word “BRILL,” and are being numbered in an ascending fashion.
While most are around four to five seconds in length, there have been variances with one a 10-second video of a jarring and high-pitched squealing sound. Some contain blurry images with unintelligible and garbled audio. Another video was 11 hours long and was totally silent. Yet another had “The Voice” reciting the alphabet with what might be distorted music playing in the background with a colored pattern and running for 2:52 minutes.
Theories bouncing around Reddit range from the semi-likely to the totally absurd, with one user theorizing it’s a game used to recruit “agents for a super-intelligent AI computer that tries to take over the world.”
Other users compared the videos to numbers stations (a type of shortwave radio station characterized by unusual broadcasts, reading out lists of numbers or incomprehensible coded messages) and yet others still think it might be some kind of test for YouTube or another third-party user. However the total random nature of the videos doesn’t seem to make this likely.
One user may have hit the button with their theory, however, as MazzakDK commented on Reddit on Wednesday, they thought it might be a money-making scheme.
“Ever wondered if this isn’t a good way to make money? He got the copyrights for that so he can make that profitable imagine the views he already have… so $$$$.”
Until someone owns up to owning the channel, we will probably never know.