Conspiracy Theories, Fact Check, Hoax, Misinformation, Youtube

YouTube starts to fact-check search results

YouTube is rolling out a feature known as “information panels” which will fact check users’ search queries.

Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

YouTube is dealing another blow to conspiracy theorists and disinformation peddlers.

 The video platform has started rolling out text prompts, known as “information panels,” that provide fact checks when users search certain terms or phrases. The feature is currently being rolled out to a limited number of users in India, one country in particular where the has .

An example of YouTube's information pane feature which fact checks search results on the platform.

An example of YouTube’s information pane feature which fact checks search results on the platform.

YouTube provided the screenshot above as an example. In this case, a user searches for information regarding a well-known internet hoax about the painkiller paracetamol carrying a hemorrhagic disease called the “Machupo” virus. At the top of the search results page, the user receives a prompt with information debunking the claim.

“As part of our ongoing efforts to build a better news experience on YouTube, we are expanding our information panels to bring fact checks from eligible publishers to YouTube,” said a YouTube spokesperson in a statement to Mashable. “We are launching this feature in India and plan to roll this out in more countries as time goes on.”

The information panel rollout in India includes fact checks in both English and Hindi.

It’s important to note that YouTube is not blocking the video results or actual videos about hoaxes. It’s simply serving additional fact-checked information from publishing partners to its users. 

The information panels displayed by YouTube are also just fact-checking search queries — not the content of the videos that show up in the search.

Fact checks will appear on terms based on the content available from YouTube’s partners regarding that particular search query.

Last summer, YouTube specifically designed to enhance how breaking and current events news is displayed on the platform. The changes authoritative journalistic content to the involving major news events.

Just earlier this year, YouTube also to specifically deal with conspiratorial content on the site. Conspiracy theories in general aren’t against YouTube’s terms of service and are allowed on the platform. However, the company decided to make changes to its recommendation algorithm so that it would no longer promote “borderline” content and “harmful” misinformation.

YouTube’s decision to provide these panels on search result pages, as opposed to video pages, is significant.

Once on a video page, a charismatic YouTube creator can more easily sway a viewer to believe misinformation. YouTube’s recommendation algorithm is notorious for pushing similar content to users on the video page, pulling people to watch content that those beliefs. If a user searches for information on the site and discovers that it’s false before clicking on a video, that may just save a user from falling down that .

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