26 April 2018

Polygon: “Wikipedia won’t fix YouTube’s problems”

“We have four freedoms under which YouTube operates: freedom of expression, freedom of opportunity, freedom to belong and freedom of information,” Kyncl said, reiterating comments he made to YouTuber Casey Neistat in February. “They truly become our North Star during difficult times. [...] Our message is that we absolutely are leaning in to freedom of information and freedom of expression, subject to our community guidelines.

“We don’t intend to be on one side or another.”

There’s a difference, however, between someone talking about their conservative beliefs and someone spreading malignant lies under the pretense of news. This is where the company now finds itself: not wanting to take a stance and relying on user-edited Wikipedia articles to try and outweigh its riskiest content.

Julia Alexander

Main problem with this approach, as noted in the article as well, is that most people watching the videos will simply ignore the Wikipedia snippet. YouTube’s interface itself makes it easy to ignore, as people frequently watch in full screen; when you finish a video and click on a recommended video, it plays in full screen as well, hiding its description and any associated fact check.

This highlights another old habit of Google, to employ volunteers for jobs that should otherwise be done by paid employees. For example: most of their help forums. Some of the Google Maps data, in smaller, less important countries like mine, was also crowdsourced in the beginning. I considered contributing to Google Maps back then, but stayed away on principle, that the work I do and data that I input should be remunerated. Google later monetized it through ads, and contributors were rewarded with a… sense of pride I guess?! But that’s how some companies get to grow to multi-billion dollar businesses, by outsourcing costs as much as possible.

Meanwhile, Facebook announced a similar initiative for fact checking based on data from Wikipedia.

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