The Hornball Origin Story of YouTube's Rise
Looking at it today, you'd think YouTube was invented from the natural urge of straight white men to subject strangers to their uninformed rants and video game sessions, but it actually stems from an urge even more primal. In fact, it was initially a dating service.
Tune In, Hook Up, as it was called, was meant to allow people to connect via videos they uploaded of themselves "talking about the partner of their dreams." Still, they literally couldn't pay women to participate. The founders got the idea to turn it into a general video-sharing site after two major events in 2004: the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
And, presumably more pressingly, Nipplegate.
Lots of perfectly functional adults probably have no recollection of it, and it would barely trend on Twitter these days, but it was a huge deal when Janet Jackson experienced a "wardrobe malfunction" at that year's Super Bowl halftime show that left her nipple-shield covered boob out in the open and blacklisted from the entire entertainment industry.
Naturally, the young dudes who invented YouTube were disheartened by the difficulty of finding videos of the incident after it aired. Oh, and amateur videos of that tsunami thing, too. Now, when the algorithm doggedly pushes you toward radicalization, just remember that, like most things, it started with someone just trying to see some boobs.