YouTube, We Have a Problem

June 28, 2021

Above, the Right Wing Watch organization provides the service of shining a light on the dangerous and growing disinformation fringe of the far right, that I think, in light of January 6, we can now all agree is no joke – and is part of the apparatus that is seeking an end to democracy in the US and globally.

Napoleon said always assume stupidity first, but this does feel targeted.

Raw Story:

The Google-run site YouTube has destroyed the one of the greatest repositories of right-wing extremism online by eliminating the channel for Right Wing Watch.

The group announced on Twitter Monday that after years of work exposing “bigoted views and dangerous conspiracy theories,” their collection has been deleted.

Then a little later

Daily Beast:

After left-wing media watchdog Right Wing Watch had been informed that its channel had been permanently suspended from YouTube on Monday morning, the online video platform reversed course hours later and reinstated the channel.

“Right Wing Watch’s YouTube channel was mistakenly suspended, but upon further review, has now been reinstated,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Daily Beast on Monday afternoon. The social-media site also suggested that the issue was a mistake due to high volume of content and that they attempted to move quickly to undo the ban.

In April, my Yale Climate Connections video was put in YouTube jail. The topic was specifically to identify the common roots of climate denial and right wing extreme disinformation.
Within minutes of the upload, the vid tripped some kind of robotic algorhythm, and no one could view it without certifying they were 21 years old and confirming their identity- at least one commenter said they had to upload photo ID.
It’s clear that something is critically amiss with Big Tech’s supposed attempt to deal with extremism and disinformation online – the purported safety net is killing our journalistic immune system that should rightly be exposing bad actors.

Meanwhile, denial of science and fact continue to be a staple of too much social media.

Guardian July 25, 2019:

The majority of YouTube videos about the climate crisis oppose the scientific consensus and “hijack” technical terms to make them appear credible, a new study has found. Researchers have warned that users searching the video site to learn about climate science may be exposed to content that goes against mainstream scientific belief.

Examples of items that showed up on the first page of a YouTube search on “Climate Change”.

Guardian again:

Dr Joachim Allgaier of RWTH Aachen University in Germany analysed 200 YouTube videos to see if they adhered to or challenged the scientific consensus. To do so, he chose 10 search terms:

  • Chemtrails
  • Climate
  • Climate change
  • Climate engineering
  • Climate hacking
  • Climate manipulation
  • Climate modification
  • Climate science
  • Geoengineering
  • Global warming

The videos were then assessed to judge how closely they adhered to the scientific consensus, as represented by the findings of reports by UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) from 2013 onwards.

These concluded that humans have been the “dominant cause” of global warming since the 1950s. However, Allgaier found that the message of 120 of the top 200 search results went against this view.

Allgaier noted, however, that although chemtrails videos received a lot of views, it does not mean the people watching them believed what they were told.

He said it was important to examine the algorithms that decide which videos to show people, but did not suggest YouTube should remove climate denial material.

“Effectively, this would be censorship, and YouTube says they are against censorship,” Allgaier said. “Perhaps they could change their algorithms to prioritise factual information, especially for health and medicine.”

A YouTube spokesperson said: “YouTube is a platform for free speech where anyone can choose to post videos, as long as they follow our community guidelines.

“Over the last year we’ve worked to better surface credible news sourcesacross our site for people searching for news-related topics, begun reducing recommendations of borderline content and videos that could misinform users in harmful ways, and introduced information panels to help give users more sources where they can fact-check information for themselves.”


23 Responses to “YouTube, We Have a Problem”

  1. YouTube has a long history of making bizarre decisions, for instance they terminated our first climate science focus channel, citing spam, scams, and deceptive content, back in 2017. In 2018 they stopped recommending all our weather extreme related content, often not even listing them in the search.

    Then in January 2019 they demonetized the Climate State YouTube channel without notification, warnings, or prior notices – a channel in good standing. YouTube also declined to let us challenge a copyright strike, even though it should be clear when viewing that video.

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