New Delhi: Calling upon YouTube to commit to meaningful transparency over misinformation, over 80 fact checking organisations from across the globe have written to the website, raising concerns over insufficient measures in tackling dis/misinformation on YouTube.
“We do not see much effort by YouTube to implement policies that address the problem. On the contrary, YouTube is allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize and fundraise themselves. Current measures are proving insufficient,” fact checkers said in an open letter to YouTube.
Highlighting how conspiracy groups are collaborating and thriving across borders and spreading misinformation on YouTube, the letter refers to multiple instances where misinformation hosted on the social media platform has encouraged boycott of vaccines, or bogus medical treatments.
“Beyond COVID-19, YouTube videos have been promoting false cures for cancer for years,” the signatories said, adding that YouTube is also being used to amplify fake news and hate speech around election time. The US Capitol Hill violence and the several videos that whitewash human rights abuses in the Philippines during the martial law years under late dictator and President Ferdinand Marcos ahead of the 2022 polls, are cases on point.
Referring to the humongous number of videos that have gone under the radar of YouTube’s policies, the signatories underscored that YouTube was avoiding the possibility of doing what has been proven to work- surfacing fact checked information as opposed to deletion of content. The letter also highlighted the fact that a large proportion of views on YouTube come from its own recommendation algorithm, and hence it becomes more crucial that YouTube does not actively promote disinformation by suggesting content from unreliable channels.
Proposing further measures to tackle the rampant spread of misinformation on YouTube, the fact checkers recommended:
1) YouTube should support independent research about the origins of the different misinformation campaigns, their reach and impact, and the most effective ways to debunk false information. It should also publish its full moderation policy regarding disinformation and misinformation, including the use of artificial intelligence and which data powers it.
2) Beyond removing content for legal compliance, YouTube’s focus should be on providing context and offering debunks, clearly superimposed on videos or as additional video content. That only can come from entering into a meaningful and structured collaboration taking the responsibility and systematically investing in independent fact-checking efforts around the world that are working to solve these issues.
3) Acting against repeat offenders that produce content that is constantly flagged as disinformation and misinformation, particularly those monetizing that content on and outside the platform, notably by preventing its recommendation algorithms from promoting content from such sources of misinformation.
4) Extend current and future efforts against disinformation and misinformation in languages different from English, and providing country- and language-specific data, as well as transcription services that work in any language.
The full text of the letter written by fact-checkers to YouTube can be read here.