January 12th, 2022
More than eighty professional fact-checking organizations from more than 40 countries have sent a letter to YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki [LINK] this Jan. 12, 2022, urging her to take at least four steps to stop the company from being “one of the major conduits of online disinformation and misinformation worldwide”.
Fact-checkers listed in their letter several examples of YouTube videos from different countries that have caused real harm in real life and, nevertheless, went under the radar of the company’s current policies. For the fact-checking community, these are just a few proofs that the policies put in place by YouTube to combat disinformation are “insufficient” and “not working”.
Fact-checkers emphasized in their letter that the situation is even worse in non-English speaking countries and in the Global South, where policies are even less exercised.
Fact-checking organizations have sent four demands to YouTube’s CEO:
- Exercising meaningful transparency about how disinformation travels on the platform and publicly disclose its policies to address it.
- Focusing on providing context instead of deleting videos. This can be done by setting meaningful and structured collaboration with fact-checking organizations and investing in their work.
- Acting against repeat offenders who produce content that is constantly flagged as disinformation and preventing their videos from being recommended or promoted by the company’s algorithms.
- Extending those efforts to languages different from English, and providing country- and language-specific data, as well as effective transcription services.
Fact-checkers also reject YouTube’s attempts to frame the debate as a false choice between deleting or not deleting videos. The group reminds the company of the evidence available today supporting the effectiveness of presenting additional fact-checked information instead of making videos just disappear. That solution, said the signatories of the letter, “preserves freedom of expression while mitigating the risks of harm to life, health, safety and democratic processes”.
In their communication to Wojcinki, signatories expressed their willingness to engage with YouTube to implement those demands and “to make YouTube a platform that truly does its best to prevent disinformation and misinformation from being weaponized against its users and society at large.”
The group expects to have a meeting with YouTube’s CEO to discuss the issues raised in the letter.
Angie Holan (Politifact)
+1 (727) 410-1770
Baybars Orsek (International Fact-checking Network)
Natalia Leal (LUPA, Brazil)
Pablo M. Fernández (Chequeado, Argentina)
Carlos Hernández-Echevarría (Maldita.es, Spain)
Clara Jiménez Cruz (Maldita.es, Spain)
+34 659 54 12 04
Georgia Morian (Full Fact, United Kingdom)
+44 (0) 7950 114013
Moath Althaher (Fatabyyano, Jordan)
Tijana Cvjeticanin (Zašto ne, Bosnia i Herezegovina)
Noko Makgato (Africa Check,)
+27 82 377 4807
Ellen Tordesillas (Vera Files, Philippines)
Jency Jacob (BOOM Live, India)
Dulamkhorloo Baatar (MFCC, Mongolia)