80 Fact-Checking Groups: YouTube Is Being 'Weaponized'

Platform is a 'major conduit' of disinformation, say groups in more than 60 countries
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 12, 2022 11:20 AM CST
80 Factchecking Groups Call Out YouTube
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki delivers a speech at the Paris Peace Forum on Nov. 11, 2021.   (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)

YouTube isn't doing enough to tackle fake news on its platform, according to a letter signed by more than 80 fact-checking groups in more than 60 countries. The groups, including the Washington Post Fact Checker and UK's Full Fact, say disinformation and misinformation fly under the radar of Google-owned YouTube's "insufficient" content policies. Indeed, YouTube is "one of the major conduits of online disinformation and misinformation worldwide," reads the open letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, shared Wednesday, per the Guardian.

In hosting videos spouting falsehoods about COVID-19 vaccines and election fraud, "YouTube is allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize and fundraise themselves," according to the groups. They urge YouTube to fund independent research into disinformation campaigns; provide context within videos spreading falsehoods; stop promoting accounts that repeatedly spread these types of videos; and do more to address disinformation and misinformation in non-English language videos, especially those coming from Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

"Bad information ruins lives" and "it cannot be left to internet companies to decide how to tackle bad information or choose how transparent to be about it," Full Fact CEO Will Moy tells the BBC. YouTube rep Elena Hernandez tells the Guardian that the company has worked "to connect people to authoritative content, reduce the spread of borderline misinformation," and remove videos in violation of its community guidelines, which bar "certain types of misleading or deceptive content with serious risk of egregious harm." She adds "consumption of recommended borderline misinformation" videos represents "significantly below 1% of all views on YouTube, and only about 0.21% of all views are of violative content that we later remove." (More YouTube stories.)

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