YouTube tries to crack down on conspiracy videos

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YouTube says it's cracking down on conspiracy videos, though it's scant on the details.

Conspiracy videos abound on YouTube, whether it's about the Earth being flat or being staged. YouTube, its parent Google, Facebook and Twitter are all facing challenges with the spread of misinformation, propaganda and .

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said at a conference Tuesday that the company will include links to the online encyclopedia Wikipedia to try to debunk videos espousing .

But Wikipedia itself has had its share of credibility issues, as the service lets anyone edit its content, whether that person is a pedigreed expert or an online troll. Though Wikipedia has tried to address that—in part by restricting edits on high-profile or controversial pages—it isn't immune from hoaxes and its own conspiracy theories.

In a statement Wednesday, YouTube said the links will include other "third-party sources" besides Wikipedia, though YouTube isn't identifying any. The organization that runs Wikipedia said Wednesday that it had no formal partnership with YouTube, but welcomed the use of Wikipedia resources.

YouTube said the move is part of a broader initiative to crack down on misinformation, though it did not give details on what else is in the works.

While conspiracy videos are nothing new on YouTube, the topic received renewed attention in recent weeks as videos falsely claimed that students speaking out about the Feb. 14 Florida school shooting, which killed 17 people, were "crisis actors" who were not really there when it happened. One such was the top trending video on YouTube until the company removed it—although many similar videos remained up, illustrating the difficulty in instituting any sort of crackdown.

Conspiracy videos, to be sure, are not against YouTube's policies. In the "crisis actor" case, the company said it removed the video because it violated its rules against harassment. As such, YouTube is unlikely to ban misinformation entirely. Instead, it may adopt Facebook's tactic of de-emphasizing such content and making it less likely to be seen. As it stands, critics say YouTube is doing the opposite.

"What keeps people glued to YouTube? Its algorithm seems to have concluded that people are drawn to content that is more extreme than what they started with—or to incendiary content in general," Zeynep Tufekci, a University of North Carolina professor who studies the social impact of technology, wrote in a recent New York Times essay. Tufekci said that as users click through video after video, excited by "uncovering more secrets and deeper truths," YouTube leads us down "a rabbit hole of extremism, while Google racks up the ad sales."

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User comments

Mar 14, 2018
"YouTube says it's cracking down on conspiracy videos, though it's scant on the details."
"Conspiracy videos, to be sure, are not against YouTube's policies."

So, who is off-balance here? The people placing "Conspiracy Videos" or the schizophrenic-behaving social media company?

The new social media standard is to label anything you don't like as a "Conspiracy" which then gives you a right to censor and delete.

Mar 15, 2018
I look forward to You Tube banning all of CNN's Russian "collusion" videos...

Mar 15, 2018
A modern day book burning. War is peace, freedom is slavery, and astrophysicists aren't plasma ignoramuses....

Mar 15, 2018
The Huffington Post gave Hillary a 98% chance of winning the election.

Are they banned from using social media?

This is just a sneaky way to smear conservatives by lumping them together with oddballs.

People often post here about the 'electric universe' theory - should be banned from access to social media because some of the posts here are from eccentric people? Should Google blacklist this site and remove it from the indexing of its search engines because a 'conspiracy theory' is mentioned on it?

Why don't these companies recognize that once you start censoring a few things, you often end up censoring almost everything, as somebody will object to some content, somewhere on almost all web sites?

Mar 15, 2018
Increasingly, wiki articles are showing up next to major network news articles in Google news. Which is good because despite its flaws wiki is far less biased and political than the major networks and news feeds which are degenerating into fake news and clickbait.

Most are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Mar 15, 2018
If youtube uses wikpedia resources then they should at least think about donating to the wikimedia foundation (because they are monetizing content that was generated for free).

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