Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Fact-checkers say YouTube is letting its platform arm itself with disinformation

More than 80 fact-checking organizations are calling on YouTube to deal with what they believe is common misinformation on the platform.

In a letter to CEO Susan Wojitski released on Wednesday, the groups say the video platform, owned by Google, is “one of the main channels of online disinformation and disinformation around the world.”

YouTube’s efforts to tackle this problem are proving insufficient, they said.

“What we don’t see is a great effort by YouTube to implement policies to address this issue,” the letter said. “On the contrary, YouTube allows unscrupulous players to use their platform as a weapon to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize themselves and raise funds.”

According to these groups, the problem is particularly acute in non-English speaking countries and in the global south.

Fact checkers are members of the International Fact Checker Network and include Rappler in the Philippines, Africa Check, Science Feedback in France and dozens of other groups. They criticized YouTube, claiming that it shapes the disinformation debate as a “false dichotomy” of content deletion or non-deletion.

Displaying verified information is more effective than removing content, fact checkers write.

They suggest that YouTube focus on providing context and rebuttals that “clearly overlap” the video. They also called on YouTube to take action against repeat offenders and step up efforts to tackle disinformation in languages ​​other than English.

YouTube spokesman Elena Hernandez said in a statement that the company “has invested heavily in policies and products in all countries where we operate to educate people on authoritative content, reduce the spread of borderline misinformation, and remove offensive videos.”

She called fact-checking “an essential tool in helping viewers make their own informed decisions,” but added that it is “one piece of a much larger puzzle of countering the spread of misinformation.”

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