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How YouTube can Deal With Fake News

These are just some of thoughts on fake news, and how tech companies can deal with it, without removing the content and breaking free speech.


Edited: 2020-01-05 12:48

So I have been thinking about solutions to fake news for a while, and I think we should be worried about how false claims are allowed to exist on certain platforms. For example, on YouTube, something can stay up for very long time.

I am not in favor of censorship or removing the videos entirely, since that would just "prove the point" to people believing in conspiracy theories and other BS. But, there are other, even better things, that can be done to help educate people. For example, YouTube could label the videos as sensitive and require age verification.

Another thing they could do would be to include a brief history as to why a video is labeled, and maybe a link to a fact checker article about the subject. If action is taken against a "fake news" type of video, then it is very important that the public is made aware why the video is labeled as sensitive.

I do not expect them to label all videos, that would be a tedious task to do manually, but doing it with just the ones that are viral in nature, or the ones that get marked by independent fact checkers, would not be an unreasonable thing to ask.

Problematic content live for a long time

For example, I recently saw one of my FB friends share a link to an old false claim about Obama being a Muslim, when I clicked the video it turned out it had been on YouTube since 2009!

I do not expect it will help those who upload this type of junk get more in touch with reality, since they are clearly delusional, and hard to reach with facts and reason. It is not impossible, however, and I do not think we should give up on them.

This is just something creators might want to be more focused on, since they risk loosing the chance to make money if tech is regulated unfairly. If tech is regulated, it will most likely lead to extreme censorship of the Internet, and that is not something I want personally.

A few rotten fruits

Fake news does not really cause much harm under usual circumstances, since it will not reach the point where people take it seriously.

Occasionally, some video or article goes viral, however, and when this happens, the false information can linger for years after the claims being disputed. It is such content that is the most problematic.

Facebook has begun to show links to articles from fact checkers, which is a nice way to deal with it, without having to remove the content completely. I think other platforms could learn from this approach.

We have to remember, it is a small minority who is creating and spreading fake news online, we should not allow them to ruin the party for everyone else.


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