More than 80 fact-checking organizations are turning to YouTube to combat what they believe is rampant misinformation on the platform.
In a letter to CEO Susan Wojcicki published on Wednesday, the groups say Google’s video platform is “one of the most important channels for online disinformation and misinformation worldwide”.
YouTube’s efforts to address the problem are proving insufficient.
“What we don’t see is a huge effort by YouTube to implement guidelines that address the problem,” the letter said. “On the contrary, YouTube allows its platform to be used as a weapon by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others and to organize themselves and raise money.”
The problem, said these groups, is particularly widespread in non-English speaking countries and the global south.
The fact checkers are all members of the International Fact Checking Network and include Rappler in the Philippines, Africa Check, Science Feedback in France, and dozens of other groups. They berated YouTube, saying that it portrayed discussions of disinformation as the “false dichotomy” of deleting or not deleting content.
Displaying fact-checked information is more effective than deleting content, the fact checkers wrote.
They suggest that YouTube focus on providing context and exposures that are “clearly overlaid” on videos. They also urged YouTube to take action against repeat offenders and step up efforts to address misinformation in languages other than English.
In a statement, YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez said the company has “invested heavily in policies and products in every country we operate in to connect people with authoritative content, reduce the spread of marginal misinformation, and remove harmful videos “.
She called fact-checking “a vital tool to help viewers make their own informed decisions,” but added that it is “part of a much larger puzzle to tackle the spread of misinformation”.
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