YouTube continues to ramp up its efforts to rid its platform of misuse and questionable content, this time through the addition of a new 'fact-check' pop-up which will appear on videos relating to subjects that are prone to misinformation.
As first reported by BuzzFeed, the new pop-up will appear in search results for certain topics, and will highlight additional information from YouTube’s verified fact-checking partners.
"These panels will show up on search results pages rather than on individual videos. To be clear: Videos containing misinformation can still appear in the search results, but YouTube will generate these disclaimers when a query involves sensitive topics, with the intent to inform viewers as the company deals with the spread of misinformation on the platform."
The new tool is currently being tested in India, with a view to a wider roll-out in the near future - the second example above highlights a false report about a bombing which had been circulated amid the recent Pakistan/India conflict.
That underlines the importance of the tool. Fake news reports in relation to racial tensions or violence can be especially damaging, causing larger societal divides based on untruths, and unnecessarily fanning those flames. Helping to provide more context could quell at least some of that tension - though it is difficult to say how effective such tools will actually be.
Facebook, for example, implemented a similar system back in 2017, but reports have indicated that it's had little impact on the spread of false news, particularly those in relation to vaccinations and refugees.
More recently, various Facebook fact-checking partners have expressed concern at the platform's lack of action to address their reports, with Snopes.com announcing that it would not be looking to renew its partnership with The Social Network.
Then again, Facebook has continued to expand the program, so you would think that it must be having some impact - but its difficult to measure exactly what that impact is, and to consider how that might relate to the same in search results on YouTube.
But then again, it is something. As noted, YouTube has been ramping up its efforts to clean-up its platform following various investigations into misuse.
Along the same line, YouTube recently announced an update to its recommendation algorithm to limit the spread of conspiracy theory and fake news content, while it's also removed comments from videos featuring minors to stop user groups tagging certain frames and images in such posts.
After Facebook took the brunt of criticism regarding the spread of false reports in the lead-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election, YouTube has become the next target for such investigation - and given the platform reaches over 1.9 billion users every month, its influence can be huge.
The specific impact of such fact-checking tools may be up for debate, but it is good to see the networks taking more action to address concerning movements - as another example, the World Health Organization says that Europe saw a record number of measles cases in 2018, due, at least in part, to a growing number of parents who are refusing vaccinations for their children.
Anything that can be done to address such is important. As noted, YouTube plans to expand its fact-checking program more broadly in the near future.