YouTube is a major source of fake news, fact-checkers say

YouTube is a major source of internet disinformation and misinformation and is not doing enough to combat the spread of lies on its platform, fact-checkers says.

According to a letter signed by more than 80 organizations, including Full Fact in the UK and the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, the video platform hosts content by organizations such as Doctors for the Truth, which spread Covid misinformation, and videos supporting the “fraud” narrative during the US presidential election.

“YouTube is allowing unethical actors to use its platform to control and exploit others, as well as to organize and finance themselves.” Current safeguards are proving insufficient,” writes the letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, in which YouTube is described as a “primary conduit” for misinformation.

The letter requests that YouTube, which is owned by Google, make four changes to its operations: a commitment to funding independent research into disinformation campaigns on the platform; providing links to rebuttals within videos distributing disinformation and misinformation; prohibiting its algorithms from promoting repeat offenders, and doing more to combat falsehoods in non-English-language videos.

“We hope you will think about incorporating these ideas for the public good and to make YouTube a platform that actually does its best to prevent disinformation and misinformation from being weaponized against its users and society at large,” the letter says.

Disinformation is the deliberate distribution of incorrect information with the intent to inflict harm, whereas misinformation is when inaccurate information is provided with no intention of causing harm.

According to the letter from the fact-checkers, who challenge claims made by domestic governments, online posts, and media organizations, YouTube’s failure to combat disinformation and misinformation is particularly noticeable in the global south, which includes countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Concerns regarding safety measures in non-English speaking countries, according to Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, were a crucial reason in her decision to go public about problems on the social media platform.

The signatories, which include fact-checking organizations from India, Nigeria, the Philippines, and Colombia, provide examples of false content about the reign of former Filipino President Ferdinand Marcos – whose son is running for office – as well as the amplification of hate speech against vulnerable groups in Brazil.

The signatures come from more than 40 nations and come from a variety of funding backgrounds. Full Fact, a UK charity, Washington Post Fact Checker, funded by the eponymous newspaper, Maldita, a fact-checking organization in Spain, and India Today, a unit inside the privately held TV Today Network are among them.

According to YouTube’s community guidelines, “some categories of misleading or deceptive content with considerable risk of grievous harm” are prohibited on the platform, including the promotion of hazardous medicines or treatments and election meddling. YouTube also lists the top 10 nations for banned videos, which are dominated by non-English-speaking countries including Vietnam, India, and Brazil.

YouTube has taken efforts to combat Covid disinformation and will remove misrepresentation about Covid vaccinations in October 2020, following Facebook’s similar action on its own platform. A year later, it said that it will remove videos spreading disinformation about all vaccines.

Elena Hernandez, a YouTube spokesman, responded to the letter by saying the firm had spent extensively on rules such as preventing the spread of “borderline” disinformation, a phrase for content that comes close to – but does not quite cross the line of – violating the platform’s guidelines.

“Over the years, we’ve spent extensively in policies and products in all of the countries where we operate in order to connect people to authoritative content, minimize the spread of borderline misinformation, and delete violative films,” Hernandez explained. “We’ve made great progress, keeping consumption of recommended borderline misinformation to less than 1% of all YouTube views, and only about 0.21 percent of all views are of violative video that we later remove.” We’re continuously looking for ways to improve and will continue to strengthen our collaboration with the fact-checking community.”

Quotes Changed to reflect the Quation & the news is source via The Guardian

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