People use social media to connect not only with their loved ones but also with information. To say that word spreads like wildfire on these platforms is an understatement. You can know about an event merely minutes after it happened. And sometimes, you’ll know what’s happening while the event is still happening.
News organizations are on these platforms. Likewise, brands are on social media to inform their consumers about product launches, product discontinuation, changes in operations, etc. Meanwhile, public officials and government agencies are on social media to make important announcements.
The wide reach these platforms provide makes them perfect for such activities. For example, YouTube is the world’s biggest video-streaming platform. According to Global Media Insight, it has over 2.6 billion active users and billions of YouTube views daily. That means one can increase their exposure by a lot by just being on the platform and spending a little bit of money on real YouTube views.
Now here’s a problem. Social media platforms are free to use. That is both a blessing and a curse.
The Spread of Misinformation and Disinformation on YouTube
On YouTube, anyone can upload videos. They can choose what topic their content will revolve on. Meaning they can talk about their lives, games, sports, and almost anything. That said, they can use the platform to spread misinformation or disinformation. Misinformation is when they spread false information believing it is true. On the other hand, disinformation is spreading falsehoods intentionally.
YouTube and most social media platforms don’t have a filter that blocks videos containing falsehoods from getting uploaded. They rely on other users to report said videos before they can take action.
Again, these platforms provide users with a wide reach. So, those videos could reach a lot of people. Thus, it may be too late when YouTube discovers the video and takes it down. There are already hundreds to thousands of people believing those false narratives. And changing their opinions is not easy.
It will not be a problem if people check the news sources to see if they’re reliable before believing them. But that’s not the case. Many believe what the videos feed them.
YouTube’s Efforts to Stop Misinformation and Disinformation
Like other social media giants, YouTube is scrutinized because of falsehoods on its platform. And when the world pays attention to you because of that, you have no choice but to put in the effort to end the spread of misinformation. YouTube has policies that are designed to end it, and they are continuously improving them.
There had been videos on YouTube that denied the Holocaust happened. Also, there had been videos that contributed to the conflict that led to the attack on the US Capitol last year. Now, there are videos spreading falsehoods about the war in Ukraine.
In response to the Holocaust Denial, YouTube introduced a policy that removes videos that deny violent events, like the Holocaust, have happened. It also stopped sharing ad revenue with those channels that broke the rules.
Now, the company has extended that policy to block content denying or trivializing the Russia-Ukraine War. It started by taking down channels to Russian state-backed outlets RT and Sputnik across Europe. The platform has removed over 70,000 videos and 9,000 channels since February.
Despite this, unlike the other social media giants, YouTube remains not blocked in Russia. Maksud Shadaev, the Russian minister for digital development, said that YouTube is Russia’s most popular social media platform. So, it will negatively affect its citizens if they ban it.
YouTube is glad for that because it allows them to deliver unfiltered news to Russia’s citizens. They can give them uncensored information about the war that’s happening.
In response to the US Capitol Riot, YouTube banned US ex-President Donald Trump.
YouTube CEO Speaks About YouTube’e Battle Against Misinformation
Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO, spoke about the company’s efforts against misinformation at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. She said that “there will always be incentives for people to create misinformation.” Thus, they face the challenge of staying ahead of that. At the same time, they need to understand what they are.
What she said about people not stopping at creating fake news is true. But is it true that they are staying ahead of it? In January, a global coalition of fact-checkers wrote a letter to YouTube, urging it to take effective action on misinformation. They said YouTube had largely escaped scrutiny despite problematic content appearing on the platform. And each day, more problematic content goes on the platform.
One report from the City University of New York and Dartmouth College in April also put YouTube under fire. The report found that people can repeatedly access extremist content on the platform.
The YouTube CEO claimed she had not seen that report. But she said there are plenty of others, and YouTube has received good grades in those reports.
Wojcicki cited that YouTube enforces its policies to remove borderline and harmful content. At the same time, it promotes content from authoritative sources. She adds that YouTube is missing only 10 – 12 content-violating videos for every 100,000 videos of videos on the platform. Wojcicki says they got those figures from their latest research.
YouTube’s CEO also described the challenges they are facing regarding moderating content during global crises. She gave the Holocaust Denial and the war on Ukraine cases as examples. Wojcicki explains how YouTube responded to these.
Fortunately, despite YouTube banning channels that support Russia and the false narratives, it continues to operate in the country. Wojcicki says that Russian citizens can access the same information that the people in Davos and other places in the world can access for free.
However, she says that YouTube will never give up its commitment to free speech. Wojcicki responded to a question that asked her about her opinions regarding the Supreme Court’s potential move to overturn Roe vs. Wade. She said that she believes women should be allowed to choose when they want to become mothers.
Wojcicki says that’s her personal view. She adds that YouTube is “really focused on free speech,” so the platform is open to opinions like that. The CEO says everyone is allowed to share their point of view – at least as long as they adhere to YouTube’s community guidelines.
Why YouTube Does Care About Fighting Misinformation on a User-Generated Content Platform
The YouTube CEO, an exemplar of sagacity and circumspection, has embarked on a crusade to eradicate disinformation and misinformation from the platform. His actions are a testament to his perspicacity, for he recognizes the deleterious effects that misinformation can have on the populace and the imperative to safeguard the integrity of information.
To elaborate on the reasons for the YouTube CEO’s actions would be an onerous task, for it encompasses an array of abstruse concepts and esoteric information dynamics. However, it suffices to say that the dissemination of disinformation and misinformation has the potential to subvert the democratic process, by undermining the public’s ability to make informed decisions and by stoking societal divisions. Furthermore, it can also have detrimental effects on individuals’ mental and physical well-being, by spreading false information on sensitive topics such as health and science.
The YouTube CEO’s strategy to combat disinformation and misinformation is multifaceted and encompasses a range of measures, including implementing algorithms to identify and remove false content, partnering with fact-checkers and experts to review information, and providing education and resources to help users critically evaluate the information they consume. Additionally, the CEO also initiated a robust system of oversight and accountability, to ensure that the platform’s content moderation policies are adhered to and that the community guidelines are enforced.
Beyond the technical measures, the YouTube CEO’s actions are also characterized by a commitment to free speech and the importance of providing a platform for diverse perspectives and opinions. However, this commitment is tempered by a recognition of the need for a balance between free speech and the protection of the public from harm.
In conclusion, the YouTube CEO’s actions to combat disinformation and misinformation are a testament to his sagacity and circumspection. His efforts serve as a model for how technology companies can responsibly navigate the complex dynamics of information in the digital age and play a crucial role in safeguarding the integrity of information, democracy, and society.