YouTube and climate videos do not seem to mix, according to the report published Thursday, January 16 by the American NGO Avaaz. According to her, 16% of the 100 most watched videos on the video platform related to the term "global warming" contained erroneous information, the 10 most watched videos having been viewed on average more than a million times each.
In response, YouTube has assured that it is doing its utmost to minimize "problematic" video content and, conversely, highlighting authoritative sources, as well as posting boxes on research related to climate change and to other subjects.
On the other hand, the video sharing platform belonging to Google defended its position: as much as it will continue to remove hateful content, as defined by its policy, violent or fraudulent, as much as there is no question that it censors content who don't break his rules.
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"Our recommendation systems are not designed to filter or demote videos or channels according to specific points of view," argued the American giant interviewed by AFP, who recalls having "invested significantly in the reduction recommendations for problematic content and misinformation, and in increasing recognized sources. "
"It is not about freedom of expression but free advertising"
Avaaz said it stripped down YouTube research using the terms "global warming", "climate change" and "climate manipulation" to see what additional content the platform offered.
The proportion of potentially misleading videos climbed to 21% for the term "climate manipulation" but fell to 8% with the title "climate change", said the NGO, which aggregates petitions on its platform and claims to " allow citizens to influence global political decisions. "
"This is not freedom of expression but free advertising," said Julie Deruy, campaign manager for Avaaz, in a statement. "YouTube has factually inaccurate videos that may confuse people about one of the biggest crises of our time."
An AFP search on YouTube with the term "global warming" yielded a results page topped by a box containing a Wikipedia summary of the subject and a link to the online encyclopedia page. The list of suggested videos on the subject was dominated by sources such as National Geographic, Nasa, TED and major news organizations, including CBS, PBS, Sky News and AFP.
YouTube accused of automatically placing ads on controversial videos
In 2019, consumption on YouTube of content from authoritative sources increased by 60%, according to YouTube. "We prioritize authoritative sources for millions of searches and provide informative links on subjects that could give rise to misinformation - including climate change - in order to provide context," said the platform. video.
Avaaz has asked YouTube to remove any misinformation on climate change from its recommendations and to make sure that this content does not make money from advertisements. The association also wants the platform to collaborate with fact-checkers and post correction notices on videos containing false information on climate change.
According to the American NGO, YouTube automatically placed advertisements on some of the contested videos, allowing the service and the content creators to earn money. This could apply to news videos expressing divergent aspects of the climate change debate.
YouTube already provides advertisers with systems to prevent their ads from being displayed with certain types of content, such as climate change talk. Samsung, L'Oréal, Danone and environmental groups Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have used the video platform to curb climate disinformation, said Avaaz.
According to Julie Deruy, "at the end of the day, YouTube should not offer, suggest, promote, advertise or lead users to disinformation".
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