At the time of writing this, a Youtube Channel called Webdriver Torso had released at least 449817 videos, most of which are 10 seconds long, have red and blue rectangles that changes position with corresponding tonal changes. All seem to have “aqua.flv” stamped on the bottom left corner. Here are some examples:

Some think it could be a code for spies, others think it has to do with aliens (I had no idea aliens watched YouTube), but it seems odd regardless.

It turns out that it’s part of YouTube’s quality control protocol, to test sound and image quality after uploading. Sounds simple right?

But then…

Video 00014 was uploaded on the 9th Octover 2013 that is completely different. It’s of the Eiffel Tower, and Webdriver Torso left a comment: “Matei is highly intelligent”.

Who the hell is Matei?

According to Wikipedia:

An Italian blogger named “Soggetto Ventuno” discovered that Webdriver Torso and all similar channels belong to a network of accounts called “ytuploadtestpartner_torso”. Ventuno then discovered some other accounts with similar videos, many of which were pulled or made private after Ventuno’s investigations were published. The network linked to a Facebook page and a Twitter page, which have now both been taken down. The Facebook page had mentioned “Johannes Leitner”, a Google Zürich employee. Leitner was friends with another employee, “Matei Gruber”.”Matei” was mentioned on 00014 (see above). Ventuno then compared scenes from pulled videos with Google Zürich photos, and noticed matching things, indicating that the pulled videos were recorded at Google Zürich, and that the channel and all similar channels were run from Google Zürich.

Humans will always be a curious species, even if the answers turn out to be mundane.

If you enjoyed this, then I suggest Googling “Webdriver Torso” for a little treat.