Ahead of the midterm elections, disinformation watchdogs say they are concerned that an aggressive effort by Alphabet Inc GOOG GOOGL YouTube to confront misinformation on the Google-owned platform has developed blind spots.
They were mainly worried about YouTube’s TikTok-like service that offers concise and the platform’s Spanish-language videos. It reaches over two billion people and houses the web’s second-most popular search engine.
But the situation is difficult to understand clearly, more than a dozen researchers said in interviews with the New York Times, because they have limited access to data and because examining videos is time-intensive work.
“It’s easier to do research with other forms of content,” such as text found on Facebook or Twitter, said Jiore Craig, the head of digital integrity for the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, or I.S.D., a nonprofit that counters extremism and disinformation. “That puts YouTube in a situation where they get off easier.”
YouTube banned videos that claimed widespread fraud in the 2020 presidential election, but it has not established a comparable policy for the midterms, prompting criticism from some watchdogs.
YouTube said it removed several videos that the NYT flagged for violating its spam and election integrity policies.
YouTube intensified its stance against political disinformation after the 2020 presidential election.
YouTube committed $15 million to hire more than 100 additional content moderators to help with the midterm elections and the presidential election in Brazil. The company has more than 10,000 moderators stationed worldwide.
YouTube finessed its recommendation algorithm, so the platform does not suggest political videos from unverified sources.
YouTube also created an election war room involving dozens of officials and has been preparing to quickly remove videos and livestreams that violate its policies on Election Day.
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