YouTube will flag up conspiracy videos with Wikipedia links

YouTube will flag up conspiracy videos with Wikipedia links

‘Fake news’ videos will soon be accompanied by links to associated material on Wikipedia, YouTube has announced.

The Guardian reports that YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told an audience at the SXSW festival that the move, which she describes as an effort to tackle the spread of disinformation, will launch “in the coming months”. It will take the form of what is described as a “companion unit next to the video information”.

Although Wikipedia is so far the only name to have been dropped, YouTube says that other sources of information will also feature. It will initially focus on high-profile conspiracy theories such as the Nasa moon landing ‘hoax’.

This in itself presents a couple of issues, however. While the Wikipedia community is pretty good at policing itself, it is still open to manipulation and disinformation. It can also be slow to respond to breaking news and emergent conspiracy theories, as was seen with the David Hogg ‘crisis actor’ theory that quickly spread in the wake of last month’s Florida school shootings.

Known Unknowns

Even Wikipedia itself has within its own pages questioned its usefulness when it comes to breaking news.

“Wikipedia is an encyclopaedia, not a newspaper,” it states. “As a result, our processes and principles are designed to work well with the usually contemplative process of building an encyclopaedia, not sorting out the oft-conflicting and mistaken reporting common during disaster and other breaking news events.

“Because of insufficient care in assessing breaking news sources, Wikipedia has, in several cases, repeated not only incorrect but damagingly incorrect information. While in most circumstances, a single reliable source is enough confirmation for an important fact in an article, in the chaos surrounding breaking news events, significantly greater care is essential.”