YouTube is making the change to battle misinformation after a conspiracy video about the Parkland shooting trended on the platform.
Can Wikipedia solve YouTube’s misinformation problem? We’ll soon find out, as CEO Susan Wojcicki on Tuesday announced that popular conspiracy videos will soon appear with links to Wikipedia articles.
The goal is to point viewers to alternative sources on the videos generating the most discussion, Wojcicki said during a talk at SXSW in Austin.
She pointed to conspiracy videos about the Apollo Moon landings, “chemtrails,” and those that say commercial airplanes spread chemicals for some mysterious purpose. In the coming months, those videos will display a prominent “information cue” tha tlinks to Wikipedia and info from other third-party sources.
“People can still watch the videos, but then they have access to additional information,” she said during the talk, which was moderated by Wired EIC Nicholas Thompson.
The news comes after the streaming service allowed conspiracy videos about last month’s high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, to propogate across the site. YouTube pulled them, but the incident underscored a problem at the service: What should it do with all these conspiracy-themed videos?
Critics have pointed out that controversial content can potentially radicalize viewers. It doesn’t help that YouTube’s recommendation engine can entice watchers to watch more of the same.
YouTube’s plan to incorporate Wikipedia links certainly won’t solve all these problems, or neccessarily even work, given that Wikipedia pages can be edited by the public. But Wojcicki said YouTube is trying to rework its recommendation engine for more appropriate results. For instance, the engine may include factors like a video publisher’s authority, diversity of content, and educational value when making suggestions.
“It’s clearly difficult and complicated,” she said.
Facebook has been experimenting with notices about fake news on its platform. In December, it said alerts next to links were not particularly effective, so it turned its attention toward serving up related articles with correct information.