More than 80 fact-checking organisations from around the world said they see YouTube as one of the major conduits of online disinformation and misinformation worldwide.
In an open letter to YouTube chief Susan Wojcicki, the groups ranging from the Kenya-based Africa Check to Politifact and the Washington Post in the United States said YouTube is allowing its platform to be weaponised by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organise and fundraise themselves”.
They said they “do not see much effort by YouTube to implement policies that address the problem”. “On the contrary, Current measures are proving insufficient”.
“Videos containing false information had gone “under the radar” of the platform’s policies, especially in non-English speaking countries”, they said.
“That is why we urge you to take effective action against disinformation and misinformation, and to elaborate a roadmap of policy and product interventions to improve the information ecosystem – and to do so with the world’s independent, non-partisan fact-checking organisations,” they added.
“Our experience as fact-checkers together with academic evidence tells us that surfacing fact-checked information is more effective than deleting content.”
The group alongside recommendations made also offered to help the platform debunk false statements.
“YouTube should support independent research about the origins of the different misinformation campaigns, their reach and impact, and the most effective ways to debunk false information”. It should also publish its full moderation policy regarding disinformation and misinformation, including the use of artificial intelligence and which data powers it,” the group said.
“Beyond removing content for legal compliance, YouTube’s focus should be on providing context and offering debunks, clearly superimposed on videos or as additional video content.
“That only can come from entering into a meaningful and structured collaboration taking the responsibility and systematically investing in independent fact-checking efforts around the world that are working to solve these issues,” they added.
The group further recommended “Acting against repeat offenders that produce content that is constantly flagged as disinformation and misinformation, particularly those monetising that content on and outside the platform, notably by preventing its recommendation algorithms from promoting content from such sources of misinformation”.
“Extend current and future efforts against disinformation and misinformation in languages different from English, and providing country- and language-specific data, as well as transcription services that work in any language”.
YouTube spokesperson Elena Hernandez has defended the platform, saying that fact checking was a “crucial tool”, but just “one piece of a much larger puzzle to address the spread of misinformation”.
“Over the years, we’ve invested heavily in policies and products in all countries… to connect people to authoritative content, reduce the spread of borderline misinformation, and remove violative videos,” she added.
She said YouTube had seen “important progress”.