Posted in Menacing Monopoly

Fact checkers say YouTube lets its platform be ‘weaponized’

This is an unexpected, striking, and welcome development:

More than 80 fact checking organizations are calling on YouTube to address what they say is rampant misinformation on the platform.

In a letter to CEO Susan Wojcicki published Wednesday, the groups say the Google-owned video platform is “one of the major conduits of online disinformation and misinformation worldwide.” 

YouTube’s efforts to address the problem, they say, are proving insufficient.

“What we do not see is much effort by YouTube to implement policies that address the problem,” the letter says. “On the contrary, YouTube is allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize and fundraise themselves.” 

Wow! Talk about speaking truth to power… this is a truly impressive collective action. Good on these fact checking groups! It’s not so easy to call a spade a spade when it belongs to one of the world’s largest and most profitable tech giants. But that is precisely what they’ve done.

And what a great characterization of the problem… “allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors.” That is, indeed, what is going on here, and it’s important that be recognized. YouTube’s algorithms are notorious for dragging users down conspiracy theory rabbit holes. If you watch one flat earth video, YouTube will recommend a bunch more to you. Because YouTube’s proprietors want you to spend all day — or at least as much of your day as you are willing to give up — consuming content. The more you stream, the better. And if you get exposed to disinformation along the way, well, that’s just a cost of doing business, isn’t it?