Fact-checking organizations write open letter to YouTube CEO on misinformation issue

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In an open letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, more than eighty professional fact-checking organizations from more than 40 countries urged her to tackle the rampant spread of “disinformation” on the platform. The group also wishes to have a meeting with Wojcicki to discuss the issues they highlighted in their letter.

According to the fact-checking community, YouTube has not been able to tackle disinformation sufficiently. They argue that the platform’s policies “just don’t work.” They also pointed out that the situation around disinformation is even worse in non-English speaking countries, where policies are less exercised.

The fact checkers outlined four steps the company can take to stop this spread in their letter. They also listed several examples of YouTube videos from different countries that caused real damage in real life.

The four requests sent to the CEO of YouTube are:

  • Exercise meaningful transparency in how disinformation circulates on the platform and publicly disclose its policies to address it.
  • Focus on the context instead of removing videos. This can be done by establishing meaningful and structured collaboration with fact-checking organizations and investing in their work.
  • Take action against repeat offenders who produce content consistently flagged as disinformation and prevent their videos from being recommended or promoted by company algorithms.
  • Extend these efforts to languages ​​other than English and provide country and language specific data, as well as efficient transcription services.

The group also states that YouTube has often tried to portray the debate as a debate about removing or not removing a video, which they say is a wrong choice. Instead, they point out that there is plenty of evidence that “presenting additional verified factual information” can also help solve the problem. According to the signatories, the latter solution “preserves freedom of expression while reducing the risks of harm to life, health, security and democratic processes”.

You can read the open letter below

An open letter to YouTube CEO from fact-checkers around the world

January 12, 2022

Ms. Susan Wojcicki,

It has been almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic began. The world has seen time and time again how destructive disinformation and disinformation can be for social harmony, democracy and public health; too many lives and livelihoods have been ruined, and far too many people have lost loved ones to misinformation. As an international network of fact-checking organizations, we monitor how lies spread online – and every day we see that YouTube is one of the main vectors of online disinformation and disinformation around the world. . This is a significant concern within our global fact-checking community.

What we don’t see is a lot of effort on YouTube’s part to implement policies that solve the problem. On the contrary, YouTube allows its platform to be armed by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize and finance themselves. Current measures are proving insufficient. This is why we urge you to take effective action against disinformation and disinformation, and to develop a roadmap of policy and product interventions to improve the information ecosystem – and to do so with organizations. independent and non-partisan fact-checking of the world.

Over the past year or so, we’ve seen conspiratorial groups flourish and collaborate across borders, including an international movement that started in Germany, leapt into Spain, and spread across Latin America, all on YouTube. Meanwhile, millions of other users were watching videos in Greek and Arabic that encouraged them to boycott vaccinations or treat their COVID-19 infections with bogus medicine. Beyond COVID-19, YouTube videos have been promoting bogus cancer cures for years.

In Brazil, the platform has been used to amplify hate speech against vulnerable groups, reaching tens of thousands of users. The elections are not secure either. In the Philippines, fake content with more than 2 million views denying human rights violations and corruption during the years of martial law is used to restore the image of the son of the late dictator, one of the 2022 election candidates In Taiwan, the last elections were marred by unfounded accusations of fraud. The world witnessed the consequences of disinformation when a violent mob assaulted the United States Capitol last year. From the day before the US presidential election until the next day, YouTube videos supporting the “fraud” story have been viewed more than 33 million times.

The examples are too numerous to count. Many of these videos and channels remain online today, and they’ve all gone under the policy radar of YouTube, especially in non-English speaking countries and countries in the South. We’re glad the company has taken steps to try and fix this issue lately, but based on what we see on the platform on a daily basis, we believe those efforts aren’t working – and YouTube hasn’t. produced no quality data to prove their effectiveness.

Your company’s platform has so far presented discussions of disinformation as a false dichotomy between removing or not removing content. By doing this, YouTube avoids the possibility of doing what has been proven successful: our experience as fact-checkers as well as academic evidence tells us that highlighting verified information is more effective than removing content. It also preserves freedom of expression while recognizing the need for additional information to mitigate risks to life, health, security and democratic processes. And since a large portion of views on YouTube come from its own recommendation algorithm, YouTube should also be careful not to actively promote misinformation to its users or recommend content from unreliable channels.

With that in mind, we come up with solutions that would make a big difference in reducing the spread of misinformation and misinformation on YouTube.

A commitment to meaningful transparency on disinformation on the platform: YouTube should support independent research into the origins of various disinformation campaigns, their reach and impact, and the most effective ways to demystify fake news . It is also expected to publish its comprehensive moderation policy regarding disinformation and disinformation, including the use of artificial intelligence and the data that powers it.

Beyond removing content for legal compliance reasons, YouTube should focus on providing context and offering demystifications, clearly overlaid on videos or as additional video content. This can only come by engaging in meaningful, structured collaboration by taking responsibility and systematically investing in independent fact-checking efforts around the world that strive to address these issues.

Take action against repeat offenders who produce content consistently flagged as disinformation and disinformation, in particular those who monetize this content on and off the platform, in particular by preventing its recommendation algorithms from promoting content from such sources of disinformation.

Extend current and future efforts against disinformation and disinformation in languages ​​other than English, and provide country and language specific data, as well as transcription services that work in any language.

We hope you will consider implementing these ideas for the public good and making YouTube a platform that truly does its best to prevent misinformation and misinformation from being militarized against its users and society as a whole. . We are ready and able to help YouTube. We wish to meet with you to discuss these issues and find ways to move forward on the collaboration and look forward to your response to this offer.

Africa Check (Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa) / Animal Político – El Sabueso (Mexico) / Aos Fatos (Brazil) / Bolivia Verifica (Bolivia) / BOOM (India, Myanmar and Bangladesh) / Check Your Fact (USA) / Code for Africa – PesaCheck (Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe ) / Colombiacheck (Colombia) / CORRECTIV (Germany) / Cotejo.info (Venezuela) / Chequeado (Argentina) / Delfi Lithuania (Lithuania) / Demagog Association (Poland) / Doğruluk Payı (Turkey) / Dubawa (Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone , Liberia and Gambia) / Ecuador Checkea (Ecuador) / Ellinika Hoaxes (Greece) / Fact Crescendo (India) / Fact-Check Ghana / FactCheck.org (USA) / FactSpace West Africa / Facta (Italy) / FactcheckNI (United Kingdom ) / Factly (India) / Factual.ro (Romania) / FactWatch (Bangladesh) / Fakenews.pl (Poland) / Faktist.no (Norway) / Faktograf.hr (Cr oatie) / Faktoje (A lbania) / Fast Check CL (Chile) / Fatabyyano (Middle East and North Africa) / Full Fact (United Kingdom) / GRASS – FactCheck Georgia / India Today Group (India) / Istinomer (Serbia ) / Istinomjer (Bosnia-Herzegovina) / Hibrid .info (Kosovo) / Knack Magazine (Belgium) / La Silla Vacía (Colombia) / Lead Stories (USA) / Les Surligneurs (France) / Logically (UK) / Lupa (Brazil) / Maldita.es (Spain) / MediaWise (USA) / Mongolia Fact-checking Center (Mongolia) / MyGoPen (Taiwan) / Myth Detector (Georgia) / NewsMobile (India) / Newschecker (India and South Asia) / Newtral (Spain ) / Observador – Fact Check (Portugal) / Open Fact-checking (Italy) / OŠTRO (Slovenia) / Pagella Politica (Italy) Poligrafo (Portugal) / PolitiFact (USA) / Pravda (Poland) / Rappler (Philippines) / Raskrinkavanje ( Bosnia and Herzegovina) / Re: Check / Re: Baltica (Latvia) / RMIT ABC Fact Check (Australia) Rumor Scanner (Bangladesh) / Science Feedback (France) / StopFake (Ukraine) / Stopfals.md (Mold avie) / Taiwan FactCheck Center (Taiwa n) / Tempo (Indonesia) / Teyit (Turkey) / The Healthy Indian Project / THIP Media (India) / The Journal FactCheck (Ireland) / The Logical Indian (India) / The Quint (India) ) / The Washington Post Fact-checker (United States) / The Whistle (Israel) / TjekDet (Denmark) / Univision – elDetector (United States) / VERA Files (Philippines) / Verificat (Spain) / Vishvas News (India) / Vistinomer (North Macedonia) / VoxCheck (Ukraine) / Youturn.in (India) / 15min (Lithuania)


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