YouTube is looking for new ways to stop the spread of misinformation online
In the context: YouTube’s 22.8 billion monthly visitors make it the most popular website in the world after Google.com, which makes it such an enticing service for those who spread disinformation. This is something that the Google-owned site has long tried to fight, and now it is making renewed efforts to stop these narratives.
Neil Mohan, director of product at YouTube, wrote an extensive message on the fight against disinformation in the service. It focuses on three areas, the first of which is to stop these videos before they go viral. He classifies conspiracy theories, such as claims that 5G caused the spread of the coronavirus, as content that violates its principles, but some of the new narratives are too fresh to be caught by the company’s systems. Thus, YouTube will “use an even more targeted combination of classifiers, keywords in additional languages, and information from regional analysts to identify narratives that our main classifier does not capture.”
The second problem is the spread of misinformation between platforms. YouTube says it has reduced the recommendations it makes for “borderline” videos, which don’t quite require removal but are often promoted on other sites with links and embeds. The company has considered removing the share button or disabling links for these videos, but fears that this could go too far and restrict viewers’ freedom. He is also considering an interim warning that the clip may contain misinformation.
Finally, YouTube aims to do a better job of combating disinformation in languages other than English. He notes that what is considered borderline content differs in each country. One option is to partner with non-governmental organizations to better understand regional and local disinformation.
Like all internet platforms, YouTube must balance the fine line between banning anything it deems harmful and over-expanding its reach to the point where it is accused of censorship. “We must be careful to balance limiting the spread of potentially harmful disinformation while leaving room for discussion and learning on sensitive and controversial topics,” Mohan said.