YouTube proposes new steps to tackle misinformationBy Niyi Oyedeji on February 23, 2022
IN a bid to curb the spread of misinformation on its platform, YouTube has proposed three new steps.
This development is coming a few weeks after the video-sharing and social media platform announced its intention to collaborate with fact-checkers, using information panels.
YouTube, in a statement released by its Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan, said the three steps are the next efforts to take in the fight against misinformation that is bedevilling the world.
“As misinformation narratives emerge faster and spread more widely than ever, our approach needs to evolve to keep pace. Here are the next three challenges our teams are looking to tackle,” he stated.
Mohan said the first step, which is about catching new misinformation before it goes viral, is a process whereby the YouTube system would be trained to identify misinformation before it starts circulating.
“We’re looking to leverage an even more targeted mix of classifiers, keywords in additional languages, and information from regional analysts to identify narratives our main classifier doesn’t catch.
“Over time, this will make us faster and more accurate at catching these viral misinfo narratives,” he said.
In addition to that, Mohan said the YouTube systems would be connecting viewers to authoritative videos in search results and in recommendations.
“For major news events, like a natural disaster, we surface developing news panels to point viewers to text articles for major news events.
“For niche topics that media outlets might not cover, we provide viewers with fact-check boxes,” he added.
He noted that the second step, which is tagged: “The cross-platform problem: addressing shares of misinformation,” will be done by overhauling the platform’s recommendation systems to lower consumption of borderline content that comes from recommendations that are significantly below 1 per cent.
“One possible way to address this is to disable the share button or break the link on videos that we’re already limiting in recommendations.
“That effectively means you couldn’t embed or link to a borderline video on another site,” he said.
He added that the platform needs to be careful to balance limiting the spread of potentially harmful misinformation while allowing space for discussion of and education about sensitive and controversial topics.
Mohan said the last step is about ramping up misinformation efforts work around the world by exploring further investments in partnerships with experts and non-governmental organisations around the world.
“Our work to curb misinformation has yielded real results, but complexities remain as we work to bring it to the 100+ countries and dozens of languages in which we operate.
“Similar to our approach with new viral topics, we’re working on ways to update models more often in order to catch hyperlocal misinformation, with the capability to support local languages,” he stated.
Mohan, however, pledges the platform’s commitment to continue to build on its work to reduce harmful misinformation across all its products and policies while allowing a diverse range of voices to thrive.
“We recognize that we may not have all the answers, but we think it’s important to share the questions and issues we’re thinking through.
“There has never been a more urgent time to advance our work for the safety and wellbeing of our community, and I look forward to keeping you all informed along the way,” he said succinctly.