In times of health emergency, conspiracy theories and fake news are even more dangerous: this is how the largest video platform in the world is running for cover.
Coronavirus was created in the laboratory by Chinese scientists. Indeed, it is caused by the 5G trials. To be honest, the Coronavirus does not exist: it is an invention of the strong powers to subjugate citizens around the world. In recent months, we have heard similar absurdities all the time: spread mainly through social networks and – as has already happened with other conspiracy theories – through videos on YouTube capable of amassing millions of views.
“At a time when people are scared of the pandemic, offering quality content is the most important thing,” Sabina Frank, YouTube’s Head of Public Policy for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, explained during an online meeting. “We know that people often turn to YouTube for information and it is therefore imperative for us that it is as reliable as possible.”
A mission statement that seems to contradict the amount of misinformation circulating on the Google-owned platform: “In truth, it is important to remember that problematic content is a very small percentage of what is on YouTube,” continues Sabina Frank. “The videos we remove, for example, represent a fraction of a percentage point of total views.”
However, the removal of content always raises the usual problem: can it really be a private company that decides what information is worth sharing and disseminating? “We don’t want to be the arbiter of the truth, but at the same time we have to defend people from dangerous contents.” To extricate itself in such a complex situation, YouTube’s strategy is based on four pillars: “Remove content that violates our policies, give more visibility to authoritative content, reduce the visibility of those at the limit and also economically reward the content they reach. the highest quality levels “.
Only the videos that clearly violate the YouTube policies are therefore removed (and this is also why they represent such a small percentage), the others deemed unsuitable are instead penalized by the algorithm and excluded from the recommendations mechanism, remaining visible only to those who already owns the link: “In the case of the Coronavirus, for example, the videos that deny the usefulness of social distancing, that claim that Covid does not exist or that it is a coverage linked to 5G are all canceled,” continues Frank.
To take care of all this is an automatic system that signals the videos to be removed or to reduce visibility. These reports are then verified by humans who, through their inputs, allow the algorithm to improve further. With the result that, explains Sabina Frank, “49.9% of the videos recognized by the machines were removed before receiving a single view and 5.3 million videos out of the 6.1 deleted were initially reported by the automatic system” .
The activity of YouTube not only aims to reduce the visibility of conspiracy theories or disinformation, but also to increase that of content considered to be of quality: “The consumption of reliable news has increased by more than 75% in the first three months of 2020. We also found that, on average, 94% of the videos that appear in the top 10 of research related to Coronavirus come from the most authoritative channels “.
In recent years, there is no doubt that YouTube has made great efforts to minimize disinformation and the dissemination of the most well-known conspiracy theories. One of the problems, however, is precisely this: it is only when the flat Earth, the chemtrails, the Pizzagate, QAnon and all these other absurd theses emerge in the light of the sun – and the various experts and mass media sound the alarm – that YouTube manages to intervene. As we have also seen with the spread of Coronavirus hoaxes, at that point it risks being too late.