As part of its broader efforts to maximize diversity and representation on its platform, YouTube has this week announced the first participants in its #YouTubeBlack Voices program, which is part of a $100 million, multi-year project that was first announced back in June, in the wake of the #BlackLivesMatter protests.
As per YouTube:
"After many months of collaboration, we're shining a spotlight on the #YouTubeBlack Voices Class of 2021 - a group of 132 creators and artists whose talents are as diverse as their hometowns. Hailing from the United States, Kenya, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Australia, South Africa, and Nigeria, this incredible group includes musicians, beauty entrepreneurs, comedians, activists, poets, personal trainers, teachers, parents, photographers, and more."
The program will provide support and funding to help participants grow their YouTube channels, as well as content development assistance and advice. YouTube's also looking to "support and connect with the wider global Black diaspora and communities through a wide range of programming and events" which will also be linked into the #YouTubeBlack Voices program.
As noted, the initiative will help YouTube maximize representation and diversity on its platform, while also seeking to eliminate cultural bias - which is also part of the motivation behind recent rule changes around hateful comments.
Like Facebook, YouTube will additionally need to address potential algorithmic bias, with machine learning models adapting based on user inputs. That means that if users are inherently biased, the systems will be too, which is a big concern given the increasing reliance on AI models and machine learning tools.
But the good news here is that online platforms can work to eliminate such bias by altering their systems, which may change how people see things. By changing the content presented, social platforms can play a significant role in ensuring greater representation, and lessening bias over time.
YouTube says that it's planning to assist more than 500 creators from around the world via the #YouTubeBlack Voices fund over the next few years.