- YouTube will attempt to combat fake news by including Wikipedia information next to conspiracy videos on its platform.
- However, Wikipedia was not consulted on this feature and strongly advises against its roll out.
- Since anyone can edit Wikipedia, this could cause more damage than anything else.
YouTube has a serious problem: videos posted on the platform sometimes make it to the top trending list, even though the videos themselves are filled with false information. As an example, an Infowars video alleging that a student at the high school of the Parkland massacre is actually a paid actor became the #1 trending video on YouTube in February.
YouTube has seen situations like this happen numerous times recently and has been trying to figure out a way to stop it. Yesterday, Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO, announced that the company would integrate Wikipedia information into conspiracy theory videos to help counteract the spread of fake news.
However, there’s just one problem: Wikipedia had no say in YouTube’s decision.
Katherine Maher, the Executive Director at the Wikimedia Foundation, which oversees Wikipedia, went on a tweet storm late Tuesday evening clarifying the problems inherent in YouTube’s decision. She explains that Wikipedia is a volunteer-edited resource, which means anyone could change Wikipedia information to align with the views of a conspiracy theory video.
— Katherine Maher (@krmaher) March 14, 2018
Other people on Twitter were quick to back up this claim, and point out that all YouTube will really achieve with this change is giving hostile actors an excuse to brigade Wikipedia.
In fact, even Wikipedia’s own “Breaking News Sources” page clarifies that Wikipedia is not a newspaper, and therefore users must do their own research and citation exploration before believing a piece of information on a Wikipedia page.
Katherine Maher then made an impassioned plea to Wikipedia users to support Wikipedia, whether through monetary donations or volunteer time editing and proofing pages. She also says, “…frankly, we don’t want you to blindly trust us. We want you to read Wikipedia with a critical eye. Check citations!”
YouTube has yet to push out this new Wikipedia feature on a large scale and hasn’t made any comments on the responses from the public and Wikipedia itself to its proposed change.