YouTube to reduce conspiracy theory recommendations in the UK

TechCrunch | 8/28/2019 | Staff
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YouTube is expanding an experimental tweak to its recommendation engine that’s intended to reduce the amplification of conspiracy theories to the UK market.

In January, the video-sharing platform said it was making changes in the US to limit the spread of conspiracy theory content, such as junk science and bogus claims about historical events — following sustained criticism of how its platform accelerates damaging clickbait.

YouTube - Spokeswoman - Process - Update - Conspiracy

A YouTube spokeswoman confirmed to TechCrunch it is now in the process of rolling out the same update to suppresses conspiracy recommendations in the UK. She said it will take some time to take full effect — without providing detail on when exactly the changes will be fully applied.

The spokeswoman said YouTube acknowledges that it needs to do more to reform a recommendation system that has been shown time and again lifting harmful clickbait and misinformation into mainstream view. Though YouTube claims this negative spiral occurs only sometimes, and says on average its system points users to mainstream videos.

Company - Type - Junk - Content - Borderline

The company calls the type of junk content it’s been experimenting with recommending less often “borderline”, saying it’s stuff that toes the line of its acceptable content policies. In practice this means stuff like videos that make nonsense claims the earth is flat, or blatant lies about historical events such as the 9/11 terror attacks, or promote harmful junk about bogus miracle cures for serious illnesses.

All of which can be filed under misinformation ‘snake oil’. But for YouTube this sort of junk has been very lucrative snake oil as a consequence of Google’s commercial imperative being to keep eyeballs engaged in order to serve more ads.

YouTube - Hit - Platform - Extremist - Impact

More recently, though, YouTube has taken a reputational hit as its platform as been blamed for an extremist and radicalizing impact on young and impressionable minds by encouraging users to swallow junk science and...
(Excerpt) Read more at: TechCrunch
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