There was a time when everybody could use YouTube, be creative and potentially make a living from it. There was a time when people could use Google to find almost anything for a particular search term. There was a time when each entity on the Internet almost it seems operated under the same conditions.
Slowly and steadily GoogleYouTube took away from which once made it so successfully. Today, GoogleYouTube primarily serves their so called authoritative sources, usually primarily results in linkage to the mainstream news, along the search results or recommendations.
But what really is an authoritative source?
Reference: An authoritative source is one that has been written by an expert who is recognized in his or her field of expertise; some examples include peer-viewed journal articles, government websites, public records and books by reputable, well-known publishers. Some sources to look for are those that contain complete first-hand accounts of an event that happened and lack a one-sided view.
Hence, per the Reference definition, also very similar to Wikipedia’s approach to primary and secondary sources, does not really align with our mainstream media, at least not consistently among the broad spectrum.
Usually the first argument proponents of content results intervention hail, the need to counter the spectrum of misinformation. An umbrella terminology to get rid of perceived content inaccuracies, actually similar in scope of known media control mechanisms known as Gleichschaltung, or more modern the Great Firewall.
But what is misinformation?
In today’s fast paced internet platform environment, misinformation often comes in form of images, or links to articles, something which hasn’t really changed since the dawn of propaganda. While oppressive regime’s are more totalitarian and usually very good in controlling public information it seems, the new GoogleYouTube approach of filtering content yield’s similar results.
Misinformation is false or inaccurate information. Examples of misinformation include false rumors, insults and pranks, while examples of more deliberate disinformation include malicious content such as hoaxes, spearphishing and computational propaganda. News parody or satire may also become misinformation if it is taken as serious by the unwary and spread as if it were true. The terms “misinformation” and “disinformation” have been associated with the neologism “Fake News,” defined by some scholars as “fabricated information that mimics news media content in form but not in organizational process or intent.”
Once identified, GoogleYouTube only requires adjusting filter parameters, keywords, or domain names. The underlying assumption is that blending out certain items will commence in the most desired narrative in the public mind.
The dark history of authoritative sources
As someone who follows climate reporting over two decades, I can remember when the so called authoritative sources settled with either ignoring climate topics, an approach to please certain advertisers, or simply out of denial, or to serve air time for ‘both arguments’.
This meant that actual scientists were pitted against smart talking fossil fuel funded speakers, the science had to defend itself against sinister arguments made-up by think tanks to deny climate change, to cast doubt about the sciences, or to attack the messenger.
Culminating in a few seconds or a couple of minutes of air time, no wonder that parts of the public were misinformed, the mere fact that a so called authoritative source provided air time to misinformation gave it also a sense of credibility.
- Authoritative sources to varying degree offer air time for misinformation.
- Well trained speakers are pitted against scientists, which are usually not used to speak in front of cameras, often not prepared to respond to false claims.
- Overall coverage of the climate topic remained marginal, suggesting therefore it cannot be that important.
Still today many provide a platform for carefully crafted misinformation, or even ingrain writers with a history of misinforming the public, into their editorial team. There are many more examples, many examples of the sources, sources part of the GoogleYouTube authoritative nexus.
Another thing simultaneously rolled-out across the field, many of the authoritative sources are only partially accessible, only for a limited time, or only on a per articles served basis. People are directed by the search engine to a few selected sources, but often only to find content buried behind a paywall.
It is not enough that the club has the best possible position to be accessed by the public, they also want you to pay.
Manipulation of authoritative sources ongoing
We have many examples with orchestrated manipulation of authoritative sources, the willful spread of misinformation, ‘A Trump Insider Embeds Climate Denial in Scientific Research‘, ‘Banning Words In The Trump Administration’s War On Truth‘.
Just a few years ago ( beginning around 2011) people from all around the world learned to become more creative, for many the flame of motivation was provided by the then for everybody reachable option to monetize their content.
This phenomena of an explosive growth in video content, new creators, coincident with a sharp rise of YouTube dominating the video platform landscape. You can really say it made them big, the largest single entity, by traffic, on the internet today, sharing it with Google.
Soon there were many problems with millions of new video creators trying to catch views, and hence that advertiser money.
- Not everybody was good in video editing, but instead they focused on the title headline, and preview thumbnail to catch your attention, and clickbait was born.
- Some focused on rights management, filing millions of copyright claims, often wrongly, but the video owner now was put into a position to defend himself against the claim, filing a dispute, requiring a response proving permissions.
- Others went so far to serve many DMCA take down notices, attempting to get rid of a channel they didn’t like, or agreed with. Even though reports were faked, YouTube took down videos – even entire channel.
But YouTube never really addressed these issues, staff often was slow to respond, rejected disputes, or ignored you entirely.
But then everything changed, ‘Major brands including Verizon and Walmart pulled their ads after they were found to be appearing next to videos promoting extremist views or hate speech’.
Subsequently, YouTube announced, more engineering resources, more independent human reviewers, and they wrote, ‘..videos that contain inflammatory religious or supremacist content may not violate the hate speech policy but will now appear behind a new interstitial warning when identified’.
However, but what they actually did was to basically demonetize everybody on the platform, unless identified as one of their hand picked legit sources – basically successful uncontroversial channels, and the rest had first to meet a new criteria, 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of accrued watch time threshold.
But they did not stopped there, additional they rolled out the so called reused content policy, a retroactive enforced guideline to demonetize everybody on subjective grounds, for instance because of sharing public domain content.
For instance the Climate State channel is demonetized on grounds it violates YouTube’s reused content policy, even though the content is entirely created by us, usually has five digit views, and has an educational scope.
As mentioned YouTube also now tweaks their search results in favor of their authoritative sources – mainly the spectrum of mainstream media outlets.
Meanwhile, studies found, ‘Most YouTube climate change videos oppose the consensus view‘, ‘YouTube’s top related videos have a climate change denial problem‘, ‘YouTube ads of 100 top brands fund climate misinformation‘, Report ‘Why is YouTube Broadcasting Climate Misinformation to Millions?‘.
Disguised under the pretense to fight false information, hate, and terror, the GoogleYouTube monopoly morphed into the very thing it claims to prevent.
- It is a form of terror if you provide results which can only be accessed when becoming a paying customer.
- The end results also fit a form of hate if you discard valid information only on the grounds that it does not fit your definition of authoritative source.
- Many studies attest, and people browsing YouTube know to well, they actively promote misinformation, the single largest misinformation operation in the world.
The vision of the Internet Society, founded in 1992, is an Internet for everybody, with the goal for the Internet to be open, globally-connected, secure, and trustworthy.
News never really tried content which critically discusses misinformation/fake news, instead arguments are served and the current narrative. While some content requires strict information, by the nature of it, such as health topics, others are not so strict.
My impression is that you can only address climate misinformation when carefully dismantling arguments, showing errors, possibly also malicious intend.
Instead of separating the foul apples, we are collectively punished by restrictive content results, and search results which promote a selective few, even when providing inaccuracies.
Generally, the problem with promoting content as authoritative is when this content operates as a for profit business, and is approaching content not based on our best science. And this won’t change until real experts are integrated in the creation of content.
With YouTube no longer a viable option for many creative minds there is room for an alternative.
Perhaps the best thing is to learn and understand what went wrong at Google and to aim for a new platform which operates open and with fair chances for every contributor, with transparent policing and enforcement.
First thing every new platform needs to supply, the services people learned to enjoy.