YouTube cracks down on conspiracy theory, propaganda channels

YouTube cracks down on conspiracy theories, propaganda
A picture illustration shows YouTube on a cell phone, in front of a YouTube copyright message regarding a video on an LCD screen, in central Bosnian town of Zenica, early June 18, 2014 REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

YouTube is taking another step forward in purging the video streaming platform from inaccurate content, and this time it is chasing channels promoting conspiracy theories and state-backed propaganda. YouTube has been the subject of criticisms in the last few years, particularly on its role in spreading wrong information.

The company on Friday announced its plans to change the way it provides users context for videos promoting such content. YouTube chief product officer Neal Mohan said it would label all videos of broadcasting companies sponsored by any states.

Also read: Cryptojackers use YouTube ads to mine digital coins

On top of state-sponsored videos, the Google unit will also be looking at conspiracy theories and try providing relevant content from reliable news sources. Mohan admitted that their platform has been infested with videos of such kind and they do not know yet how to select relevant videos.

YouTube depends largely on algorithms to parse and recommend videos. With the new scheme, Mohan said this way of selection may find it difficult to sort out which ones are theories and which ones are not.

In 2017, Mohan directed his team to enhance YouTube as a platform to get news, including moves to promote "an ever-changing list of authoritative news sources" that it chooses with the help the Google News team.

"The principle here is to provide more information to our users, and let our users make the judgment themselves, as opposed to us being in the business of providing any sort of editorial judgment on any of these things ourselves," says Mohan.

YouTube's crackdown is still in the development phase and it remains uncertain when YouTube officials will begin pushing the planned changes.

This article was first published on February 3, 2018