A new video service called Cameo was launched in April 2018 with the intent of allowing celebrities to record short, personalized videos for fans. The service includes a stable of athletes with a wide range of varying relevance, all of whom you can hear say your name in exchange for a quick payment.
Those videos could be something like a personal greeting, a birthday shout-out or a holiday celebration. Apparently, they could also be a assortment of coded, anti-semitic language meant to validate white supremacists.
A report from Buzzfeed on Friday revealed that a group of white supremacist YouTubers have been using Cameo to dupe celebrities into endorsing racial messages and conspiracy theories. That group of celebrities reportedly includes comedian Andy Dick, rapper Soulja Boy and, most notably, Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre.
Brett Favre through his career
Brett Favre through his career
May 02, 1989 - Mississippi, Mississippi, USA - BRETT FAVRE at Southern Mississippi in 1989 (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
2 Sep 1989: Quarterback Brett Favre of the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles looks to pass from the pocket during the Golden Eagles 30-26 victory over the Florida State Seminoles at Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. Mandatory Credit: Allen S
Quarterback Brett Favre and head coach Jerry Glanville of the Atlanta Falcons. (Photo by Perry McIntyre/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 20: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers stands in the huddle against the Cincinnati Bengals at Lambeau Field on September 20, 1992 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bengals 24-23 on a Favre touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. (Photo by James Biever /Getty Images)
Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers looks on from the sideline in a 1999 game. ?James Biever (Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre (4) celebrates a touchdown pass during a 30-20 loss to the Detroit Lions on January 2, 1994, at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. (Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)
CLEVELAND - NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers laughs as he holds the ball during an NFL game against the Cleveland Browns on November 19, 1995 at Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. The Packers won 31-20. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
4 Jan 1997: Quarterback Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers celebrates with teammates during a playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers won the game, 35-14. Mandatory Credit: Brian Bahr /Allspo
GREEN BAY, UNITED STATES: NFL season MVP Brett Favre, quarterback of the Green Bay Packers throws a pass 04 January during the first half of their NFC Divisional Playoff game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo credit should read JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images)
27 Jan 1997: Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers in a press conference after the Packs' 35-21 victory over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI at the Superdome in New Orleans, LA. (Photo by Sporting News/Sporting News via Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 26: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XXXI January 26, 1997 at the Louisiana Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana . The Packers won the game 35-21. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - OCTOBER 25: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers looks on against the Baltimore Ravens at Lambeau Field on October 25, 1998 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Ravens 28-10. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
ORCHARD PARK, NY - SEPTEMBER 10: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers passes against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on September 10, 2000 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
4 Nov 2001 : Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers in action against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers won 21-20. DIGITAL IMAGE. Mandatory Credit: Elsa/Allsport
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 22: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers waves to the crowd against the Buffalo Bills during the game at Lambeau Field on December 22, 2002 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers defeated the Bills 10-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI, DECEMBER 28, 2003 - Green Bay Packers Brett Favre celebrates winning of the game against Denver Broncos at Lambeau Field on Sunday. Packers won 31-3. (THE DENVER POST PHOTO BY HYOUNG CHANG) (Photo By Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 31: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers thows a pass against the Washington Redskins at FedEx Field on October 31, 2004 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 03: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers calls a play during the game with the Carolina Panthers on October 3, 2005 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 32-29. (Photo By Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - MAY 5: Green Bay Packers' Brett Favre (R) hands off to a teammate during practice at the first mini camp at the Don Hutson Center on May 5, 2006 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Darren Hauck/Getty Images)
Packers fans show their respect for their quarterabck Brett Favre in a 21 to 35 preseason win for the Green Bay Packers against the Tennessee Titans on September 1, 2006 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by James V. Biever/Getty Images)
SEATTLE - NOVEMBER 27: Quarterback Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers walks off the field against the Seattle Seahawks on November 27, 2006 at Qwest Field in Seattle Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 17: Brett Favre #4 of the Green Bay Packers prepares to take the field against the Detroit Lions on December 17, 2006 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Sporting News and Rogers Photo Archive via Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre sports a huge smile after defeating the Packers' arch enemy , during action against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago Il, December 31,2006. (Photo by Don Lansu/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 16: NFL athlete Brett Favre accepts an award for record breaker onstage at the 2008 ESPY Awards held at NOKIA Theatre L.A. LIVE on July 16, 2008 in Los Angeles, California. The 2008 ESPYs will air on Sunday, July 20 at 9PM ET on ESPN. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 08: New York Jets Quarterback Brett Favre(R) and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (L) pose for a photo during a press conference to Welcome Brett Favre to New York at City Hall on August 8, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - NOVEMBER 14: Brett Favre signals a penalty on the Patriots in the 2nd half of the Jets 34-31 win., New York Jets against the New England Patriots. (Photo by Ron Antonelli/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 25: Brett Favre #4 of the Minnesota Vikings drops back to pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on October 25, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Vikings 27-17. (Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 3779 -- Pictured: (l-r) NFL football quarterback Brett Favre during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 4, 2010 (Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 10: Brett Farve visits FOX Business Network at FOX Studios on February 10, 2015 in New York, United States. (Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 26: Brett Favre, former Green Bay Packers quarterback, speaks during the retirement ceremony for his #4 jersey at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Kena Krutsinger/Getty Images)
GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 26: Fans hold up Packer flags with the number 4 for the Brett Favre during the game between the Chicago Bears and Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 26, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Mike McGinnis/Getty Images)
Brett Favre, former quarterback for the Green Bay Packers, smiles during a Bloomberg Radio interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, Feb. 5, 2016. Favre discussed Super Bowl 50 and competing with country singer Tim McGraw to see who can get the most Sqor followers. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Brett Favre accidentally records video rife with anti-semitic language
For a fee of $500, Favre’s going rate on Cameo, two alt-right trolls reportedly submitted instructions for a video that were approved by Favre. The Hall of Fame quarterback then recorded himself saying the following:
“Brett Favre here with a shoutout to the Handsome Truth and the GDL boys,” Favre said in the shaky video. “You guys are patriots in my eyes. So keep waking them up and don’t let the small get you down. Keep fighting too and don’t ever forget the USS Liberty and the men and women who died on that day. God bless and take care.”
While the text of that video might raise an eyebrow at first glance, it’s also not hard to see how Favre might have skimmed the instructions and not realized what he was doing.
Here’s a quick run-down of the codes used in that transcript, according to Buzzfeed.
GDL and the Handsome Truth are the white supremacists that paid for the video
“waking them up” obviously means recruiting for the alt-right
“the small” refers to “small hats,” a slur for yarmulke
the USS Liberty is a US vessel fired upon by Israeli forces during the Six-Day War in 1967, killing 34. Israel later apologized and said its pilots thought they were firing on an Egyptian ship, but the incident has predictably become a pet cause for anti-semitic activists.
The video has since been taken down by Cameo and multiple copies of it have been removed from YouTube, but it reportedly lives on through anti-semitic message boards. Buzzfeed said it had viewed the video, but opted to not publish it, as that would validate the people who wanted the video to go viral.
Brett Favre says he’s ‘sickened’ by white supremacists, donates Cameo fee
The whole incident got its perpetrators a pat on the back in the white supremacist community as the video spread into dark corners of the internet. Cameo released a statement denouncing their actions and claiming its was the first time something like this had happened in the company’s history:
“On or about November 22nd, Cameo talent received requests that appeared to be aimed at supporting the American military. After recording the videos Cameo learned that the request came from an anti-Semitic group and contained content that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic,” Cameo said in a statement to BuzzFeed News.
“This was a blatant misuse of the Cameo platform and a violation of Cameo’s terms of service. This is the first incident of its kind in more than 93,000 Cameos and a gross misrepresentation of the talent’s political beliefs,” the statement continued. “Cameo immediately removed the videos from the website, requested YouTube to remove the content and created new filters to prevent this from happening in the future. The user has been banned from purchasing Cameos.”
When reached for comment by Buzzfeed, representatives for Dick and Soulja Boy reportedly said that both men were misled and do not share the beliefs of the people who requested the video.
Favre released a statement on Saturday saying something similar, recounting how he thought he was fulfilling a request to support a group of veterans and was later “distressed” to learn the truth. He said he was “sickened” by the beliefs of the groups that had tricked him and would be donating his $500 cameo fee to charities fighting hate and bigotry.
The full statement:
On November 22, I received a request to record a shout-out supporting what appeared to be a U.S. veterans organization for Cameo, a company that enables consumers to book personalized video greetings from celebrities. I had previously fulfilled more than 50 of these requests without incident. Since I match service dogs with military veterans who have PTSD, I assumed that the request stemmed from my interest in veterans affairs and recorded the message.
A few days later, I was distressed to learn that the request came from an anti-Semitic group that reposted my video with comments implying that I endorsed their mission. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am therefore donating my $500 Cameo fee to Charities supporting their fight against hate and bigotry.
Like most Americans, I am sickened by what these groups stand for and concerned about their role in fueling today’s negative political climate. The Cameo request from this organization is a prime example of how these groups are misusing social media to promote their agenda. I thought I was creating a message to support the brave men and women of our military forces. Had I understood the source of the request, I never would have fulfilled it. All of us – myself included – need to be vigilant to protect this country from these dangers.