It’s been just over a month since Colleen Ballinger started making headlines for her inappropriate behaviour with underage fans. Since the allegations of manipulation, grooming and racism surfaced, scores of internet users have speculated what could possibly be the next move for Colleen— and after she decided to sing her “apology,” it’s safe to say that her options are limited.
Some believe that she should retire from the internet altogether, while others argue that she should face criminal charges for her behaviour. But among all the discourse, a popular (yet somewhat unexpected) theory suggests that Colleen is heading down the right-wing pipeline.
Whether it’s Andrew Tate or JustPearlyThings, you have probably stumbled across an influencer who preaches conservative political values at one point or another.
With many of these influencers spouting misogynistic, anti-Semitic and racist rhetoric, a scroll through any content in this category is revealing. Instead of being defined by a singular political ideology, many of these influencers take a reactionary stance, starkly opposing any sort of progressivism. However, within this overarching anti-woke agenda, a consistent theme emerges— the idea that free speech is under threat, with cancel culture being blamed as the primary culprit.
This mindset is exactly why social media users believe Colleen is destined for the alt-right pipeline. By likening the allegations against her to a “Toxic Gossip Train,” Colleen has already positioned herself as an unfair target of cancel culture. And this victim mentality is all too common in alt-right circles— we all remember how Andrew Tate came for climate activist Greta Thunberg with absolutely no prompting.
That said, it’s not unheard of for a de-platformed or “cancelled” influencer to follow a more conservative path.
Take a moment to consider Brittany Dawn— a once-famous Instagram fitness influencer who is now known for posting faith-based content. Many viral culture enthusiasts believe this career pivot was a strategic decision to avoid controversy after being accused of scamming her followers.
Back in 2019, Brittany advertised and sold “personalised” exercise and meal plans but reportedly never delivered them. Years later, the state of Texas filed a lawsuit against Brittany’s company over deceptive business practices and misleading customers with eating disorders. Brittany settled the case earlier this year, paying $400,000 in penalties and restitution.
Nevertheless, Brittany has also defined herself as a victim of cancel culture— much like Colleen.
“In 2019, I walked through the flames of what we now know as cancel culture. But I wasn’t just cancelled, it went much deeper than that,” Brittany shares in an Instagram post from just last month. “I’ve sat quietly while people online have attempted to systematically dismantle every aspect of my life. They’ve come for my reputation, my career, and my income.”
That is not to say that faith-based creators, like Brittany, are synonymous with the far right. But digital culture pundits have noted that these creators tend to promote similar, conservative values— with many citing Christian family vloggers as examples.
The LaBrant Fam, for instance, faced intense backlash last year for releasing a heavily-biased “documentary” on abortion. Cole and Sav, who lead the family channel, presented the film as an exploration of the “truth” about abortion, with the goal of assisting women in accessing improved healthcare resources.
It soon became clear that the video was anti-abortion propaganda. The 38-minute documentary gave no air-time to the pro-choice argument, failing to explore the complex emotional, mental, and socio-economic reasons a pregnant person may choose to have an abortion.
Colleen is not a Christian family vlogger; however, she has become associated with this sort of content by way of the YouTube algorithm. Though the algorithm’s inner workings remain a mystery to many, Colleen’s viewers claim they have discovered a connection between her videos and the content created by conservative and Christian influencers.
Reddit user maybebabyg responded to a post on the r/moderatelygranolamoms subreddit, explaining how YouTube started recommending Christian vloggers soon after she began watching Colleen’s content.
“I followed Colleen Ballinger on YouTube while we were both pregnant and started getting recommended hyper-religious family vloggers,” she writes. “It’s a problem with media sites like TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, Twitter more than ever, Facebook. Like everything at the moment, all their algorithms try to push you to the right because that benefits them as corporations.”
Pop culture TikToker @unluckp1ckle, whose real name is Hannah, shared a similar story— but this time about the Miranda Sings channel. Since the news of the allegations broke, Hannah took it upon herself to watch all the Miranda videos posted over the past fifteen years. While reviewing the content, she noticed a troubling pattern: an influx of politically conservative ads.
“When I was watching all 922 of those [Miranda Sings] videos, the YouTube algorithm started taking me down an alt-right pipeline,” she begins. “The more and more I started watching Miranda’s content, I started to realise that my ads were changing… the first ad that I started getting repeatedly was this trailer for this docu-drama about being transgender, but it is incredibly transphobic.”
Along with encountering anti-LGBTQIA+ content, Hannah noticed a notable rise in advertisements promoting Christianity. She goes on to speculate why YouTube pushes out this kind of content on Miranda’s channel, saying, “Even though Colleen intends for Miranda to be ironic, for Miranda to be a satire of conservative America, the algorithm doesn’t know that… YouTube does not understand the joke, and it is construing her content to be homophobic and then aligning it with Christian values and serving Christian ads on her videos.”
It’s fair to assume that Miranda Sings viewers understand the nuances of her content— that is, the ones who aren’t children.
But when we consider the allegations against Colleen and the fact that she is already associated with the internet’s conservative side, the theory that she is heading down the alt-right path begins to make a little more sense. And while Colleen probably won’t be the next guest on Fox News, seeing algorithms leading the audience to believe that it is her next step doesn’t bode well for a possible return to the internet.