Flying Colors Foundation

Making this a separate thread as not to dump this conversation into the TotD thread, which started with Churba’s below response after I posted a video by anime-youtuber Gigguk.

Well, this is extremely bad form then because with this post basically serves as nothing but rumor spreading, and I honestly expect better from you (and the three people who liked that post). I for my part was however completely unaware of this going on when I posted the video. I just stumbled over this video when watching some reviews of “A Silent Voice” after seeing that film yesterday and it connected to me on an emotional level, which is why I posted it.

In any case, from what I gathered via the internet, what happened was that there was an anime-pin business whose executives on the side started a non-profit organization (Flying Colors Foundation) doing surveys with the full stated intent of sharing that data with their “partners” in the anime industry. They also stated that they would not gather personally identifiable information, though since the the survey company that they used could track IPs and the surveys themselves apparently included questions like age, sex and zip code, that is questionable.

What they also did was ask anime youtubers such as Gigguk to promote that NPO as well as promotions for the pin business. There have been some questions how deep the involvement of these people was with that NPO, as the accusation states that they were “with them from the start” and recruiting other YouTubers, while the YouTubers say that they at best were in an advisory capacity.

Unfortunately I have had to gather this info all from other, secondary sources as the original articles on that matter have seen been deleted (which is why I can’t link to them). The problem is that some of this has then been sensationalized. One video on the matter I saw went into accusing the NPO of “tracking what you eat via instagram” because they had the access to the IP address of the people who took the survey, at which point I closed the video. Due to the inability for me the verify all of this I at this point ask people to gather their own info on this, rather than be influenced by my writing or what articles I link on that matter.

I am still not sure where the “scam” part comes in. At best I can tell is that the company in question mishandled user data and possibly ran afoul of laws regarding online data collection. These are possibly illegal actions. However, none of this, neither on the part of the NPO nor of the YouTubers, goes to the point where they are attempting to directly defraud people taking the survey of money. It seems to me that calling “scam” is itself a sensationalized accusation.

Or maybe I just didn’t have time, because I have shit to do, and I wanted a placeholder to come back and edit. You want me on call, let me know where to send my invoice.

Yeah, unfortunately, some salty reddit bros from /r/anime mass-reported the original investigator’s medium posts, and now her account is suspended. They were pretty comprehensive and conclusive, and came with a fair amount of proof, and were partially sourced from someone who literally worked for FCF. It was quite impressive, for a non-professional. (Or at least, someone who I’m not aware of being a professional.)

But, luckily, I was already investigating(short story, but I don’t want to tell it), and all three articles are still in the google cache, which should suffice until she gets her account restored, she’s apparently working it out with Medium. Most of this is from SocialAniGirl’s work, some of it is from my own work.

Which was dubious at best, since they didn’t really have that much connection to any actual publishers/production houses or distributors, and the few they did manage to speak to turned them down flat. What they did have, however, is connections to Merch sites(Including Lootcrate), companies that make their cash from advertising.

They also asked for a bunch of information irrelevant to their stated goals, but is incredibly useful to advertisers and marketers, for example, income status, purchasing habits, purchasing locations/online outlets, brand awareness, and mental health history/status.

Gigguk has said he wasn’t involved, he just promoted it. But then he was, but only a little. But then he was involved from the start and was there when it was founded. His excuses have changed about as quickly as new information comes, and are extremely suspicious.

What we do know is that folk have documentary evidence of him being privy to internal communications and assisting with day-to-day operation, displaying insider knowledge(since he was literally privy to all of their internal communications), and the testimony from someone who literally worked for the foundation(who was verified by the original author, vouched for as such by someone known to have been approached by the FCF, and my independent digging seems to confirm the same) who has said that he was a core member of the group, acted on behalf of the company on some occasions, and unless other people in the organization were lying to him, literally went to Japan at least partially to recruit a specific youtuber, as well as helping in the day-to-day running of the company. Also, his partner is literally an employee of OPC and of FCF, and as previously stated, has claimed to have been there when it started. His “Just an influencer” excuse doesn’t wash, and his initial pretending to know nothing is pretty deliberately deceiving.

Also, side note, that “Advisory Capacity” thing is horseshit. It’s just trying to minimize the fact that he was working with them, by stating one of his roles. Yeah, he was in an advisory capacity, in that he literally advised them on some stuff. He also recruited for them, was privy to their internal communications, and the things he helped advise on were the day-to-day workings of the company.

The other Youtuber in question was Joey the Anime Man, who Gigguk recruited on a trip to Japan, and who was pretty much their sole method of contacting anyone in the industry, as well as being the person slated to run their (albeit nebulously) planned Tokyo branch, and handle the industry outreach.

They also straight up lied about if their youtubers got paid or not, and according to other youtubers approached, while they didn’t promise ongoing pay, they did promise “revenue enhancement assistance” and the possibility of helping them with sponsorship and/or profit sharing deals.

They were heavily involved with the extremely shady OtakuCoin(and the parent company for it, Tokyo Otaku Mode), which apparently included a deal to share gathered information with them. This was not disclosed to survey takers.

That, at least, is genuine nonsense and simply the usual internet paranoia, just like Oculus stealing your retinal scans and making strange changes to their EULAs to steal your data after they were bought by Facebook. (Which, y’know, Facebook does do some dodgy shit with your data, but the EULA changes made by Oculus were not in any way legally shady or strange.)

  • They took data under the pretense of giving it to companies who they didn’t really have any contact with, and in some cases had already turned them down, with the vague goal of “Saving Anime.” Their only other plans involving this were nebulous, and set for at best the distant future.
  • That same data, they did share or had agreements to share it with marketing and advertising companies, as well as other companies who rely on advertising for revenue.
  • They had massive conflicts of interest with OPC, with both being owned and run by the same people at the same time for at least part of their operational life. There is also no evidence at this time, despite owner’s claims, that they have divested themselves of any interests in OPC.
  • They absolutely lied on multiple occasions about things like paying youtubers, and what they were doing with the data they collected.

So, basically, the Scam part comes in where they lied about what they were doing, lied about paying people to promote them, lied about what they were doing with the data, and their attempts to obfuscate and mislead about their working with for-profit companies. Sure, they weren’t stealing your money, but they were certainly taking data under false pretenses, and using your personal data in an undisclosed fashion, for the profit of both themselves(considering the lack of evidence of any divesting from other business ventures), their youtube partners, and other for-profit organizations. In short, they took something of yours under false pretenses, with the intent of some people involved profiting on it from undisclosed use, that’s a fucking scam mate. Or if that’s not accurate enough, what would you prefer? A con job? A phishing trip?

The only people I’ll excuse out of this so far are people like Glass Reflection, Mother’s basement, Aki Dearest, and (reluctantly, because he’s a fucking tool) Digibro, who appear to have smaller one-time payments, but otherwise were not operationally involved, and have generally been forthcoming about the whole thing.

Dude, posting this “placeholder” served absolutely no purpose other than throwing out an accusation. It is not that I want you “on call”, but just stating an accusation and promising to talk about it later is really awful behavior. You could have just not posted that damn placeholder and just posted your full explanation at some point.

It is still not a scam. They aren’t scamming people out of money. It is an extremely shady, probably illegal form of consumer surveying. That is bad but it isn’t a “scam”, particularly since they were explicitly stating that they were sharing the gathered information with their “partners” (though that term is rather nebulous).

It is also rather dubious to describe it as “they took something of yours” when a) it isn’t a physical object or something of monetary value; and b) the information was volunteered by the people taking the survey.

The term “scam” is simply not applicable, and using it serves no purpose other than sensationalizing the event.

Which literally doesn’t have a bearing on if it’s a scam or not. And even if it did, their planned involvement with OtakuCoin pretty much blows that the fuck out of the water.

Which they heavily implied if not outright stated was going to be publishers and production houses, not fucking marketers and ad-supported companies.

Yeah, when someone phishes you, you volunteer that information too. It’s still not fucking on.

Not to mention, trying to minimize taking your personal information, including things that are normally considered pretty sensitive like mental health information? Come off it. Do I really need to explain to you the value of personal data, and why you might want to keep it to yourself?

  1. I don’t exactly care about OtakuCoin here, because as far as I can tell they only considered partnering with OtakuCoin, but didn’t and at least according to his statements Gigguk advised against such a partnership.

  2. I am not a native english speaker, but the word “scam” implies to me the illegal acquisition of objects of value by way of false pretenses and possibly the promise of a return of investment on the people who possess these objects of value. Definitions I have found on the net go along similar lines [1] [2].

A return of investment was not promised, but that is also just optional. The “false pretenses” is dubious considering that they explicitly stated that they were sharing the information with their “partners”, though that term has not been explicitly defined by them, but let’s give that to you. So are survey answers “objects of value”. Information like credit card numbers of passwords are of course objects of value because they permit access to other data or grant access to privileges. Simply answers like “which is your favorite anime” on the other hand is not exactly, except in aggregate by asking hundreds of people as it is valuable for people that produce goods in order for them to create products that will sell better. And that was the explicit, stated purpose of that fucking website.

So no, while this is thoroughly shady, I don’t believe it falls in the territory of “scam”.

It does not. It merely means taking something of value - including information, nowdays - through deception or trickery. Hell, it doesn’t even mean that no money changes hands from the scammer to the victim - there’s plenty of classic scams where the aim is to acquire something valuable for an absurdly low price by tricking the person into thinking the low value is accurate, or vastly overcharging for a pretty much useless service - if it was just illegal acquisitions, then neither of those methods would count as scams, they’d just be business transactions, albeit unfair ones.

Also, we’re not in a courtroom. Citing a legal dictionary doesn’t really help. We don’t hold strictly to legal definitions in informal speech, in any language.

And as a further thought - people who are squeaky clean, or at least mostly innocent and just made some honest mistakes, even big ones, don’t behave like basically everyone involved. Gigguk’s rapidly evolving excuses is bizzare. Joey’s complete lack of response is bizzare.
And people who have made an honest mistake, even a real big one, with a majority of the community going either “I don’t think this was a scam” and/or “I’m right behind them if they just apologize and course-correct”, normally you’d think they’d apologize and at least try to fix things, rather than popping out one statement, and then hurriedly shutting down, with everyone involved(well, other than Gigguk, and the influencer type folk who wern’t really closely involved) going to ground. That’s not how innocent people, or even people who have just made some mistakes, behave.
(Digibro did change his twitter name and rebranded his channel just recently, but that’s because he also just got pulled into another controversy because he all but outright admitted to being a bit of a pedo, as well as attacking Patreon’s new policy of not allowing depictions of underage sex, he’s skated relatively unscathed from the FCF implosion.)

I can see why you think that, but asking things like contact info, location, income, mental health status, and shit I realized mid sentence that you probably don’t know how data-based marketing works, what you can do with it, and how valuable that data is, and that’s why you literally don’t see where the scam is.

Oh, and also, if you give me just the numbers for purchase frequency, income, purchasing locations, and favorite anime, I can literally give you a targeting plan for how to best target, say, depressed anime fans with a decent amount of cash to make a real profit, while also not bothering with ones who can afford treatment and thus are a less reliable income source, even if the ads still do hit hard. And you know what? Microtargeting - hitting people with ads according to very narrow determining categories - while expensive, due to the costs of independently acquiring data, is hilariously effective. Conversion rates far above the norm, even for more broadly targeted ads.

Not to mention the absurd ability to target, and to determine other information that’s not given - with JUST the information of, say, what purchases someone makes at a regular discount store type retailer, like target, which isn’t at all considered sensitive information, you can literally determine with pretty high accuracy if someone is pregnant. Which wouldn’t be such a big deal, if it wasn’t for the fact that you will often know before the pregnant person in question does. Sounds absurd? It’s literally something that happened in 2012, with target having no more information about any given individual than their loyalty card number, and their purchase history. And data-based marketing has moved leaps and bounds, since then.

Oh, and people who worked for FCF literally owned or worked for businesses that could make a fuckton of money by using that data in that fashion. And they were promising to help people make more profit in exchange for shilling for them - which, funnily enough, also gets them an out on the whole “No profits are given to the Influencers” thing, because they’re paying in trade rather than money(and also that would be considered an operational expense, even for a non-profit.)

Oh, how magnanimous, except it was. Did you even read their FAQ? They made pretty clear - or at least, they said pretty clearly - that they were sharing the data with “studios, animators, and their sponsors”. In fact, at one point, they literally said, plainly,

we hope to provide the community a collective voice by sending meaningful stories and insights to the people who matter the most - our friends in Japan who draw, create, and produce our favorite anime.

Last I checked, Otaku Pin club, a Cryptocurrency, the attached Ad-supported site to that Cryptocurrency, and the like were not producing any anime. The closest they came to saying they were going to share data with those kinds of partners is that they were going to provide “Research and consulting services” to generate revenue - while still right next to claims about bridging “Community and industry” and talking about how they were going to give data to creators - clearly attempting to put it in the context of providing those services to companies that actually make and license anime and manga. Not people hawking merch and tchotchkes of other people’s IP.

I have no doubt that you don’t, and you’ve every right to believe that. But it does bring me to another point.

Honestly, I think pulling in anime influencers is really a stroke of genius. People trust them, they have an emotional connection with them, they feel like they know these people, and they are just like them, just some scrappy anime fan with opinions, who was lucky enough to manage to build a following so they could talk about anime as a job.

People will easily believe impersonal company Facebook is taking your data, and selling it off, or manipulating your trust and emotions, because they’re a faceless corporation. But, wait, my guy Joey the Anime Man doing that sort of thing? Nah, he’d never do that, he cares about his fans, and he’s so nice, and such a funny guy, He’s part of the community like me, I don’t think he’d do something like that, it must be a mistake, there must be another explanation. People believe in them, and it provides an additional layer of defense and trust against any sort of misgiving, because people want to forgive these people for mistakes, they don’t want it to be true. The people shilling your product are a built-in line of defense, as well as being a fantastic marketing strategy - especially because thanks to that trust, people will willingly hand over their data, and not a lot of people are going to think to look close.

Yeah, according to his statements, he also said he didn’t know anything, that he was an influencer but nothing more, that he was an advisor and nothing more, and then suddenly his partner is an employee, and then suddenly he knew everybody involved from the beginning, but we’re meant to believe that they literally never talked about work and had no idea what the other was doing. I’d be a little more inclined to believe it, if he hadn’t already done/said multiple contradictory things and proven that he can’t be trusted, since, y’know, getting out of this squeaky clean is pretty obviously beneficial to his personal brand.

Edit - Oh, and also, just a little side note from my side gig: Otaku Pin Club are already pretty notorious for ripping off and selling other people’s designs. They’re already known to be shady pricks, just from their usual operation. And their pins are, let’s say, cheap and cheerful, for a premium product price.

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So, since he’s outed himself (well… More that since Gigguk outed him), I can point out that the main informant on this was Faux_Wizard, one of my mods on /r/anime.

I’ve never had a very strong opinion of Gigguk; he always struck me (along with DigiBrony) as one of those people who views every interaction he has with anything in terms of how he can leverage his brand and make a few bucks off of it.

(Just in case this comes up in a google search, I want to emphasize that this is a personal opinion of mine, not the opinion of /r/anime)

I caught a few of his videos here and there before the controversy, and yeah, that seems pretty much what he was like, but had few strong feelings. During the flying colours thing, I watched a random bunch of his videos to see what was up with him and get a measure of the chap, and it seems that initial assessment was only partially correct - he’s that, but he’s also that shitty kind of “Triggered, SJW?” reddit edgelord, without being quite full on alt-right.

I think I got to digibro a little later than you did, since he’s always seemed kinda creepy, greasy, and awful, just a constant slow-motion trainwreck of a human being. The whole part where he basically went all-in on loudly declaring his support for child porn this week did nothing to dispel that. Oh, and it also turns out that the reason he looks greasier than tallow factory is because he doesn’t believe in bathing or brushing his teeth - I thought people were talking shit, but it turns out that it’s right from the horse’s mouth, he basically said as much(though not in so few words) on the podcast he’s regularly on.

Also relevant, since some folk might not know what’s up with otakucoin and why their involvement was a big deal: Callum “Canipa” May(from Crunchy/Otaquest/ANN) made a pretty good video about OtakuCoin, and why it’s a massive scam built from the ground up to really only profit Tokyo Otaku Mode.

Wow, I’m surprised that thing even made the mentions or news at all. When I first bumped into it, I assumed it was a scam and 100% ignored it.

Im all WTF because I’ve never encountered this outside of the reporting that it’s a scam.

It wouldn’t have, if not for the fact that Gigguk is a pretty huge anime youtube personality, and started trying to push back against the story, which pretty much worked about as well as it ever does, plus the extremely hurried shutdown. Not to mention that their influencer list includes most of the biggest anime youtubers, and Otaku Art Theft Pin Club is a pretty big merch seller right now, so it was bound to kick off some fights between fans who don’t want to believe their fave raves were part of a scam, and people who think it’s a complete and obvious scam.

Fun facts - I found out about it not from anitwitter or any of that, but from an editor I work with occasionally, who sent me an email after his son filled the survey, and wanted to donate to the cause, and wanted his father’s help because A)he didn’t have a credit card, and B)he couldn’t find anywhere on the site to donate to the non-profit. Despite not knowing the first thing about anime, he still has a nose like a bloodhound for a story, smelled a scam right away, and passed it off to me, as the most applicable freelancer who also happens to be a nerd of the right kind.

There’s a lot of people who pretty blindly follow Gigguk/Digibrony.

I had never heard of either of these two people before this thing became news. I still don’t know anything about them other than that those are names of Internet people.

Digibro(ny) got famous doing dumb Pony videos before spreading out to anime when the Pony market collapsed. He’s probably most famous for taking an hour to say “Sword Art online has very little substance to it, and is a bad show” back when you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting an SAO fanboy. I only know Gigguk cus I think we banned him on /r/anime for a while for doing nothing but spamming his videos.

Wasn’t that Digibro, because I remember talking to you about an hour-long video he released whining about it, and was suprised to find that it was already like a year or two in the past at that point. Then again, it could easily be both of them for the same thing.

Though, Digibro is an endless pit of awfulness. It doesn’t matter how deep you dig, it just gets worse, without reducing the amount of awfulness left to dig through.

Gigguk is an Anime Youtuber who has the standard anime youtuber opinions and especially attitude, pretends to know more about the industry than he really does and is apparently somewhat of a source of amusement among people who know what’s up, will do basically anything to advance either his personal brand or his bank account, and to cap it all off, is also that particular kind of not-quite-alt-right reddit edgelord.

Digibro is also an anime youtuber and pedo, who has been loudly proclaiming his love of lolicon - both in regular manga/anime and in porn - for years, is notorious for stinking like a rotting corpse(turns out, he doesn’t believe in bathing or brushing his teeth), and is pretty much the same as Gigguk, stupid opinions stated with absolute confidence, except he is full-on alt-right, whining about the alt-left and SJWs, and recently caught a lot of heat for attacking patreon for their new “No sexual depictions of children, no bestiality, no incest” rules, with a particular focus on that first bit.

Man, if I had a list of all the youtubers we banned for not following a pretty basic rule…

Oh wait, I do. :3


At this point I will admit that at a point over a week I watched a lot of Digibro’s content. I found some of his analysis quite entertaining, but thinking back on it other than his “episode by episode” analysis of Evangelion (which also only got to episode 8 or so) nothing stuck out to me and can’t really think of much and haven’t watched that guys content since. While I believe I’m still technically subscribed to Digibro on YouTUbe (which I will rectify immediately), the only ani-tuber I really keep up with is Mother’s basement. Gigguk I haven’t watched beyond the one video I posted.

Digibro’s awful hygiene, alt-right-ism and pedophelia are new to me. Would have un-subscribed much sooner given that. Reminds a situation with “IAmNinja” or whatever that guys name was, a youtuber who would post excellent TF2 spy gameplay-compilations but hadn’t done so in two years when suddenly he was posting complete horseshit conspiracy BS when GamerGate started.

To be fair, his personal hygine rarely comes up on youtube, it’s not like we have smell-o-vision, and plenty of people look greasy without being outright foul. And the Alt-rightyness has been largely confined to his podcast, twitter, and reddit - he rarely gets more than reddit edgy in his videos. As for the pedo stuff, it was really more outside of his YouTube videos that he went real hard on that stuff, what he puts in his youtube videos could be passed off as cringy jokes, if that was the totality of it.

It’s not your fault for not knowing, he doesn’t really throw that stuff out to his primary audience, because he knows that becoming known as “That anime pedo” will damage his brand, and therefore his income. Unfortunately for him, his opinions and predilections caught up with him right at the same time there was another big scandal in the anime community(and people were looking for blood), so he had to hurriedly re-brand.

This is getting into shitty youtuber thread territory.