October 31, 2020

YouTube expands fact-checking feature for video searches to Europe


The logo of video-sharing website YouTube is displayed on a smartphone on November 19, 2018 in Berlin, Germany.

Thomas Trutschel | Photothek via Getty Images

YouTube will start showing users in the U.K. and Germany fact-checking panels on some video searches, expanding on its efforts to tackle misinformation in Europe.

In the coming days, the Google-owned video-sharing service will start displaying information and links from third-party publishers on queries related to issues like elections and the coronavirus pandemic. The feature was first rolled out in Brazil and India last year, and later launched in the U.S. in April.

At the time of its launch in the U.S., YouTube and other platforms were coming under fire over the spread of false claims about Covid-19 online. Conspiracy theories linking the virus to next-generation 5G mobile networks, for example, led to cell towers being set ablaze in the U.K.

Meanwhile, a video containing bogus anti-vaccine claims spread like wildfire on Facebook, YouTube, IAC-owned Vimeo and Twitter. A study published by King’s College London in June showed that people using sites like Facebook and YouTube to find information about the virus were more likely to believe in conspiracy theories about it.

As YouTube brings its fact-checking feature to Europe, it’s relying on British and German organizations to show accurate information and dispel myths about certain events and news. In the U.K., it’s enlisted the help of the BBC and Full Fact, while in Germany users will see fact-checks from Correctiv and BR24.

An example provided by YouTube shows a search for “tall people and covid” in the U.K. resulting in a rebuttal from Full Fact at the top of the app. “There is no proof you’re more likely to get Covid-19 if you’re tall,” a message reads, linking to a page from Full Fact explaining the lack of evidence for such claims.

YouTube will start showing users in the U.K. and Germany fact-checking panels on some video searches.

YouTube

Ben McOwen Wilson, managing director for YouTube U.K., said the expansion of fact-checking was “one of the many steps we are taking to raise up authoritative sources, to provide relevant and authoritative context, and to continue to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation.”

The news arrives at an especially tense time for internet giants, as they brace for the U.S. presidential election in November. Facebook, which has warned of civil unrest ahead of the vote, recently announced it will ban new political ads submitted in the week before polls open, but the move is unlikely to change a great deal.



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