The speed at which the internet operates has given rise to the concept of modern journalism, where news items are rarely error-checked for the sake of delivering content as quickly as possible.
There's also the fact that not everyone behind a keyboard has good intentions. As the saying goes, with great power comes great responsibility — and many have exploited that power to spread misinformation, deliberately duping people by feeding them baseless and inaccurate news items that further muddle their perception of truth.
All the major platforms can't escape this fake news problem: Google, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all trying to deal with it. For the most part, their efforts are kind of working. Twitter banned 70 million accounts last quarter, for instance, proving it's gotten more aggressive about getting rid of bad agents on the site. Facebook, meanwhile, has been introducing lot of new features to help people recognize fake news when they stumble upon it.
How YouTube Is fighting Fake News
As for YouTube, the Google-owned company just announced it's going to invest $25 million to help support legitimate news organizations fight fake news. The announcement comes after months of criticism over YouTube controversial content. This past February, for instance, a video claimed that one of the high school students who survived the mass killing in Parkland, Florida, was an actor hired by gun control advocates. It became the site's number one trending video despite its blatant inaccuracy. YouTube removed the clip within a few hours.
According to YouTube's chief business officer Robert Kyncl and chief product officer Neal Mohan, the company will begin funding organizations in about 20 global markets in support of "building sustainable video operations." YouTube will hand out grants that will let organizations build video capabilities and also train employees on best video practices. It will also expand its steam focused on supporting news publishers.
YouTube will also seek the help of Stanford University and the Poynter Institute to educate teens on thinking critically about the videos they watch.
"We believe quality journalism requires sustainable revenue streams and that we have a responsibility to support innovation in products and funding for news," the executives jointly wrote in a blog post.
In the United States at least, YouTube will begin showing relevant articles next to developing news stories. Internationally, it will link to fact-checking articles when a user searches for videos that are prone to conspiracy arguments, such as the moon landing.
Of course, time will tell whether these efforts can ever yield positive outcomes. Remember, YouTube has a shoddy track record when it comes to addressing fake stories, and throwing $35 million toward organizations won't change that overnight. If anything, it's a nice first step, but one that should be followed through going forward more aggressively.