YouTube News Wants to Tell You What to Believe

Joe Scudder
Written by Joe Scudder

YouTube started as a platform for everyone but now they plan to drown content creators out with YouTube news.

The amazing thing about YouTube news is that it essentially aspires to be another CNN or Washington Post or New York Times. They basically want to center their platform on “Democracy Dies in Darkness” arrogance. This is supposed to be preferable to the proliferation of user-created content with its conspiracy theories and other stuff.

But YouTube was never supposed to be a media organization. It was made for the public to post whatever they want. It is going against the whole purpose of the platform.

And the content will still be “susceptible to manipulation” as much as ever. Only the same corporations that manipulate news on the networks will now gain more power over YouTube.

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Wired reports, “YouTube Debuts Plan to Promote and Fund ‘Authoritative’ News.

Following a year in which YouTube has repeatedly promoted conspiracy theory videos during breaking news events like the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Las Vegas, on Monday the company announced a slew of new features it hopes will help makes news on the platform more reliable and less susceptible to manipulation. The company is also investing $25 million in grants to news organizations looking to expand their video operations as part of a larger, $300 million program sponsored by YouTube’s sister company, Google.

According to YouTube executives, the goal is to identify authoritative news sources, bring those videos to the top of users’ feeds, and support quality journalism with tools and funding that will help news organizations more effectively reach their audiences. The challenge is deciding what constitutes authority when the public seems more divided than ever on which news sources to trust—or whether to trust the traditional news industry at all.

Among the many changes YouTube announced Monday are substantive tweaks to the tools it uses to recommend news-related videos. In the coming weeks, YouTube will start to display an information panel above videos about developing stories, which will include a link to an article that Google News deems to be most relevant and authoritative on the subject. The move is meant to help prevent hastily recorded hoax videos from rising to the top of YouTube’s recommendations. And yet, Google News hardly has a spotless record when it comes to promoting authoritative content. Following the 2016 election, the tool surfaced a WordPress blog falsely claiming Donald Trump won the popular vote as one of the top results for the term “final election results.”

YouTube is also expanding a feature, currently available in 17 countries, that shows up on the homepage during breaking news events. This section of the homepage will only surface videos from sources YouTube considers authoritative. The same goes for the videos that YouTube recommends viewers watch next.

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About the author

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder

Joe Scudder is the "nom de plume" (or "nom de guerre") of a fifty-ish-year-old writer and stroke survivor. He lives in St Louis with his wife and still-at-home children. He has been a freelance writer and occasional political activist since the early nineties. He describes his politics as Tolkienesque.

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