YouTube is one of the largest propagators of false news or ‘fake news’, according to a letter signed by more than 80 data verification organizations, among which are groups Full Fact, Maldita.es and Washington Post’s Fast Checker.
In an open letter to YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki signed by more than 80 independent verification organizations from more than 40 countries and published this Wednesday, it has been reported that the platform disseminates videos with misinformation on topics such as Covid-19 .
According to this letter, which has the signature of the Spanish media dedicated to ‘fast checking’ Maldita.es, there is no “real effort on the part of YouTube when it comes to applying policies that address the problem,” since it allows ” that unscrupulous actors use their platform as a weapon to manipulate and exploit other people, and to organize and raise funds. “
In the opinion of the signatories, YouTube carries out measures that are insufficient and have urged it to promote other more effective ones against disinformation. In addition, they have asked you to develop a roadmap of interventions that improve your information ecosystem with the support of independent and non-partisan verification organizations.
To support these accusations, these organizations, which also include the Spanish Maldita.es, Newtral and Verificat, give an example of the campaign of false cures against Covid-19 or the alleged remedies to treat diseases such as cancer that “during years “have been posted on the platform.
Likewise, this complaint indicates that some users have used YouTube to amplify hate speech against vulnerable groups, as well as their intervention in electoral processes where fraud has existed.
Examples include fraudulent presidential elections that have recently taken place in Asian countries such as the Philippines and Taiwan.
Despite mentioning several cases in different parts of the world, the statement warns that videos with ‘fake news’ sneak more easily into non-English speaking countries and those of the global South.
Under the criteria of the signatories, the strategy carried out by this Google platform is insufficient, since they consider that it is more effective to provide context with verified information than to eliminate content, a strategy that YouTube has even followed.
“This alternative also preserves freedom of expression while recognizing that providing that additional information can mitigate risks to life, health, security and democratic processes,” can be read in this statement.
These more than 80 verification organizations ensure that, since much of the content views come from YouTube’s own recommendation algorithm, it should ensure that it does not actively promote information from unreliable channels.
To end this problem, they have proposed four solutions: a transparency commitment to fund independent investigations into disinformation campaigns, promote context and disclaimers overlaid on fake news videos or as additional video content, or take action against repeat misinformers.
Finally, these organizations have suggested that YouTube should increase efforts against misinformation in languages other than English by using a transcription service that works with any language.
At the conclusion of this statement, the organizations show their willingness to help stop these disinformation campaigns and “find ways that lead to effective collaboration.” At the moment, neither the executive director of YouTube nor the platform itself have commented on the matter.