More than 80 fact-checking organizations are calling on YouTube to respond to what they say is widespread misinformation on the platform.
In a letter to CEO Susan Wojcicki published on Wednesday, the groups say the Google-owned video platform is “one of the biggest vectors of misinformation and misinformation online around the world.”
YouTube’s efforts to fix the problem, they say, are proving insufficient.
“What we don’t see is much effort from YouTube to implement policies that address the issue,” the letter said. “On the contrary, YouTube allows its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize and fund themselves.”
The problem, these groups said, is particularly prevalent in non-English-speaking countries and in countries in the Global South.
Fact checkers are all members of the International Fact Checking Network and include Rappler in the Philippines, Africa Check, Science Feedback in France, and dozens of other groups. They blasted YouTube, saying it frames discussions of misinformation as a “false dichotomy” of removing or not removing content.
Posting verified information is more effective than removing content, the fact checkers wrote.
They propose that YouTube should focus on providing context and demystifications that are “clearly layered” on videos. They also called on YouTube to take action against repeat offenders and to step up its efforts against misinformation in languages other than English.
In a statement, YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez said the company has “invested heavily in policies and products in every country where we operate to connect people to authoritative content, reduce the spread of limit misinformation and remove violent videos”.
She called fact-checking “a crucial tool to help viewers make their own informed decisions”, but added that it was “one piece of a much larger puzzle to combat the spread misinformation”.