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.


Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

Updated 20 March 2019
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Google fined $1.7bn for search ad blocks

  • Google received three fines in the past two years
  • EU Commission says Google has been blocking competitors for the past ten years

BRUSSELS: Google was fined $1.7 billion on Wednesday for blocking rival online search advertisers, the third large European Union antitrust penalty for the Alphabet business in two only years.

The European Commission, which said the fine accounted for 1.29 percent of Google’s turnover in 2018, said in a statement that the anti-competitive practices had lasted a decade.

“Google has cemented its dominance in online search adverts and shielded itself from competitive pressure by imposing anti-competitive contractual restrictions on third-party websites,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said.

The case concerned websites, such as of newspaper or travel sites, with a search function that produces search results and search adverts. Google’s AdSense for Search provided such search adverts.

The misconduct included stopping publishers from placing any search adverts from competitors on their search results pages, forcing them to reserve the most profitable space on their search results pages for Google’s adverts and a requirement to seek written approval from Google before making changes to the way in which any rival adverts were displayed.

The AdSense advertising case was triggered by a complaint from Microsoft in 2010. Both companies subsequently dropped complaints against each other in 2016.

Last year, Vestager imposed a record $4.92 billion fine on Google for using its popular Android mobile operating system to block rivals. This followed a $2.74 billion fine in June 2017 for hindering rivals of shopping comparison websites.

Google is now trying to comply with the order to ensure a level playing field with proposals to boost price comparison rivals and prompt Android users to choose their preferred browsers and search apps. Critics however are still not happy.