News Brief

YouTube targets fake news before EU election

YouTube is taking action against fake and misleading news videos in efforts to help voters find reliable facts ahead of the European Elections in May.

The video-sharing site’s parent company Google will launch publisher transparency labels for viewers in the UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Poland, among other countries, the company said in a statement. The site will offer new “top news” menus in efforts to promote “authoritative” news sources as well, it said.

The new procedures are being introduced after YouTube endured criticism from an influx of fake videos influencing political debate and social division. In the wake of the Notre Dame fire, YouTube’s monitoring sector was entrenched in removing the many Islamophobic and highly misleading videos that cropped up, including a video where the words “Allahu Akbar” had been playing over the burning cathedral.

YouTube’s algorithm also appeared to help audiences make a link between the fire and terrorist involvement, by suggesting the viewer move onto a video of 9/11 after they watched the Notre Dame fire. Following the mosque attacks in Christchurch, the Washington Post reported from YouTube’s offices that the company was struggling to tamp a wave of Islamophobic hate videos.

In February 2019, Buzzfeed and the Guardian found that YouTube’s algorithm actively promoted anti-vaccination propaganda, by listing anti-vaxx videos as the second-most requested video when a user searches for “immunization.” The Guardian’s Julia Wong wrote at the time that users were being “steers viewers from fact-based medical information toward anti-vaccine misinformation.”

YouTube say they’ve invested in new product features “to make authoritative sources more prominent” and will create a dedicated page for news related to the EU election.