It gets more scrutiny than it used to, but YouTube still manages to fly under most people’s radars when they think about social media platforms with a big influence on the world today.
And yet there’s real reason to be concerned, according to fact-checking groups from 40 countries around the world. As the Guardian reports:
A letter signed by more than 80 groups, including Full Fact in the UK and the Washington Post’s Fact Checker, says the video platform is hosting content by groups including Doctors for the Truth, which spread Covid misinformation, and videos supporting the “fraud” narrative during the US presidential election.
The letter says YouTube’s lack of enough action to tackle the problem lets bad actors exploit people and raise money for their operations.
The organisations behind the letter want YouTube to: fund independent research; prominently link to fact-checks when users watch a false or misleading video; downrank repeat offenders, and do more to address misinformation in non-English language videos.
In response, YouTube says it keeps “consumption of recommended borderline misinformation significantly below 1% of all views on YouTube, and only about 0.21% of all views are of violative content that we later remove.” That might sound impressive until you remember the sheer scale of a platform where popular videos can get millions (or billions
) of views. 1% can mean big numbers at YouTube scale.
Meta might be far from perfect, but it has taken more action against misinformation since the media and politicians stepped up scrutiny of its platforms. It’s time a greater share of attention shone on YouTube’s problems, motivating the platform’s leadership to clean up its act.