All it takes is the right keyword search to fall down a rabbit-hole of conspiracy theories on YouTube. The video-sharing site notoriously makes it easy to find videos disputing everything from the moon landing to the shape of the Earth—some of which have racked up millions of views, granting them the illusion of legitimacy. Now, The Verge reports that YouTube is making it easier for viewers to separate fact from fiction.
When users search for something that's a popular subject of conspiracy theories—"Oklahoma bombing" is one example YouTube gives—a link to a third-party text source like Wikipedia or Encyclopædia Britannica will now appear at the top of their search results. The idea is to provide some general context for the topic before users have a chance to click on a video filled with inaccurate content.
The company also announced it's taking steps to stop the spread of misinformation regarding breaking news. Now, searches related to developing major news events will come with their own blurb at the top of the search results linking to a trusted outlet. YouTube admits that it isn't always the best platform for breaking news, and the new feature aims to make up for that.
They said in the announcement:
"After a breaking news event, it takes time to verify, produce and publish high-quality videos. Journalists often write articles first to break the news rather than produce videos. That's why in the coming weeks in the U.S. we will start providing a short preview of news articles in search results on YouTube that link to the full article during the initial hours of a major news event, along with a reminder that breaking and developing news can rapidly change."
YouTube also plans to support the video journalism that can be trusted. The company will be investing in news organizations in 20 global markets and collaborating with established outlets on ways to improve how it handles news in the future.
YouTube is the latest tech giant making an effort to crack down on the misinformation that circulates through its platform. Both Google and Facebook have added features that make it easier to spot fake news, but as is the case with YouTube's new update, they only work when users are willing to look for them.
[h/t The Verge]