A group of more than 80 prominent fact-checking organizations around the world are pushing YouTube to take action against Covid misinformation, which is still prevalent on the platform now two years after the pandemic.
“As an international network of fact-checking organizations, we monitor how lies spread online – and every day, we see that YouTube is one of the leading channels of misinformation and online disinformation around the world,” the coalition of checkers wrote. of facts in a statement. open letter published on Poynter. “This is a significant concern among our global fact-checking community.”
The collection of fact-checking organizations that signed the letter spans the globe, including US-based groups like Politifact, Washington Post Fact-checker and Poynter’s MediaWise, alongside Dubawa and Africa Check from Africa, Fact Crescendo and Factly from India. and many other organizations from countries like Indonesia, Israel and Turkey.
The group notes that health-related disinformation has long found fertile ground on the video-sharing site, including content that encourages cancer patients to fight their conditions with unscientific treatments.
“In the past year, we have seen conspiracy groups thriving and collaborating across borders, including an international movement that started in Germany, jumped to Spain and spread across Latin America, all on YouTube,” the letter states. “Meanwhile, millions of other users watched videos in Greek and Arabic that encouraged them to boycott vaccinations or treat their COVID-19 infections with fake cures.”
The letter also highlights the specific dangers of spreading disinformation in videos in other languages. Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen drew attention to parallel concerns on this platform, which also does not invest uniformly in moderating content outside of English-speaking countries. The fact-checking group encourages YouTube to “provide country and language-specific data as well as transcription services that work in any language” to combat the flow of misinformation in languages other than English, on which the company focuses its methods of moderation.
Fact-checkers don’t just present problems – they also present solutions, pointing out that the company must create much more transparency around its disinformation and disinformation policies and support independent researchers who specialize in these issues. The group also urges YouTube to step up its efforts to debunk misinformation and provide immediate context on the platform, two tactics that can be accomplished by deepening its work with fact-checking organizations.
While Facebook and Twitter have long faced intense public scrutiny for spreading misinformation on their platforms, YouTube often manages to slip under the radar. Its recommendation algorithm has played an active role in promoting dangerous claims in recent years, but since TikTok, the platform is video and not text-based, it is often more difficult for researchers to study and lawmakers holding accountability hearings. of technology to understand.
“YouTube is allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and organize and fundraise,” the group wrote. “Current measures are proving insufficient.”