YouTube aims to crack down on fake news, support journalism

YouTube video personality Hank Green critiques the online video industry's monetization policies during a keynote presentation at VidCon at the Anaheim Convention Center, in Anaheim, California, on June 23, 2018. YouTube says it is taking several steps to ensure the veracity of news on its service. (REUTERS/Paresh Dave)
Updated 10 July 2018
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YouTube aims to crack down on fake news, support journalism

  • The company said Monday it will make “authoritative” news sources more prominent, especially in the wake of breaking news events when misinformation can spread quickly.
  • YouTube will begin showing users short text previews of news stories in video search results, as well as warnings that the stories can change.

NEW YORK: Google’s YouTube says it is taking several steps to ensure the veracity of news on its service by cracking down on misinformation and supporting news organizations.
The company said Monday it will make “authoritative” news sources more prominent, especially in the wake of breaking news events when misinformation can spread quickly.
At such times, YouTube will begin showing users short text previews of news stories in video search results, as well as warnings that the stories can change. The goal is to counter the fake videos that can proliferate immediately after shootings, natural disasters and other major happenings. For example, YouTube search results prominently showed videos purporting to “prove” that mass shootings like the one that killed at least 59 in Las Vegas were fake, acted out by “crisis actors.”
In these urgent cases, traditional video won’t do, since it takes time for news outlets to produce and verify high-quality clips. So YouTube aims to short-circuit the misinformation loop with text stories that can quickly provide more accurate information. Company executives announced the effort at YouTube’s New York offices.
Those officials, however, offered only vague descriptions of which sources YouTube will consider authoritative. Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said the company isn’t just compiling a simple list of trusted news outlets, noted that the definition of authoritative is “fluid” and then added the caveat that it won’t simply boil down to sources that are popular on YouTube.
He added that 10,000 human reviewers at Google — so-called search quality raters who monitor search results around the world — are helping determine what will count as authoritative sources and news stories.
Alexios Mantzarlis, a Poynter Institute faculty member who helped Facebook team up with fact-checkers (including The Associated Press), said the text story snippet at the top of search results was “cautiously a good step forward.”
But he worried what would happen to fake news videos that were simply recommended by YouTube’s recommendation engine and would appear in feeds without being searched.
He said it would be preferable if Google used people instead of algorithms to vet fake news.
“Facebook was reluctant to go down that path two and half years ago and then they did,” he said.
YouTube also said it will commit $25 million over the next several years to improving news on YouTube and tackling “emerging challenges” such as misinformation. That sum includes funding to help news organizations around the world build “sustainable video operations,” such as by training staff and improving production facilities. The money would not fund video creation.
The company is also testing ways to counter conspiracy videos with generally trusted sources such as Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannica. For common conspiracy subjects — what YouTube delicately calls “well-established historical and scientific topics that have often been subject to misinformation,” such as the moon landing and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing — Google will add information from such third parties for users who search on these topics.


Twitter CEO trolled for ‘hate mongering’ against India’s Brahmins

Updated 20 November 2018
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Twitter CEO trolled for ‘hate mongering’ against India’s Brahmins

  • Several prominent Indians accused Jack Dorsey of ‘hate mongering’ against Brahmins
  • Twitter India said the poster was handed to Dorsey by a Dalit activist

NEW DELHI: Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has kicked up a social media storm in India after a picture of him with a placard saying “smash Brahminical patriarchy,” referring to the highest Hindu caste, went viral in one of the company’s fastest-growing markets.
The picture, posted on Twitter on Sunday by a journalist who was part of group of women journalists, activists, writers whom Dorsey met during a visit to India last week, had him clutching a poster of a woman holding up a banner with the line that has offended many Indians.
Several prominent Indians, including T.V. Mohandas Pai, a former finance chief of software exporter Infosys, accused Dorsey of “hate mongering” against Brahmins.
“Tomorrow if @jack is given a poster with anti-Semitic messages in a meeting, will his team allow him to hold it up?” Pai tweeted. “Why is that any different? Inciting hate against any community is wrong.”
Twitter India said the poster was handed to Dorsey by a Dalit activist — Dalits are at the bottom of the social hierarchy in Hinduism — when it hosted a closed-door discussion with a group of women to know more about their experience using Twitter.
It added the poster was a “tangible reflection of our company’s efforts to see, hear, and understand all sides of important public conversations that happen on our service around the world.”


Late on Monday, Vijaya Gadde, legal, policy and trust and safety lead at Twitter who accompanied Dorsey to India, apologized.
“I’m very sorry for this. It’s not reflective of our views. We took a private photo with a gift just given to us — we should have been more thoughtful,” she said in a tweet. “Twitter strives to be an impartial platform for all. We failed to do that here & we must do better to serve our customers in India.”
Twitter, whose monthly active users globally averaged 326 million in the July-September quarter, does not disclose the number of its users in India but its executives have said that the country was one of its fastest growing.
Its use is only expected to grow in India in the coming months as political parties in the country of 1.3 billion try to expand their reach to voters ahead of a general election due by May.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with 44.4 million followers, is one of its biggest supporters.
“I enjoy being on this medium, where I’ve made great friends and see everyday the creativity of people,” Modi tweeted last week after meeting Dorsey in New Delhi.