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New YouTube feature fact checks suspicious searches

The feature is live now in India, but will likely get a worldwide rollout soon.

Published onMarch 7, 2019

The YouTube logo as of 2019.

One of the biggest issues YouTube faces is the spread of misinformation — a.k.a. “fake news” — on the platform. Along with Facebook, Twitter, and other major social media networks, YouTube has a responsibility to help users differentiate between things that are true, things that are up for interpretation, and things that are patently false.

To help do this, YouTube has started a new notification system that pops up fact checks when people perform searches using flagged terms (via Buzzfeed News). For example, someone could be looking up whether or not a particular drug is safe, unaware of the fact that there’s an online hoax happening related to that drug. In that person’s search results, an “information panel” will appear which will give that user some helpful information.

Check out the example below where the user entered the search term “virus in paracetamol,” and YouTube lets them know about a verified hoax:

YouTube will source the information for these fact check notifications from various “trusted sources,” as well as link to Wikipedia pages of known conspiracy theories (such as the Flat Earth theory and moon landing hoax theories).

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Many of these services are also working with Facebook, which has a very similar fact check notification.

This feature is currently open to a limited number of users in India who are searching YouTube in English or Hindi. Eventually, this will roll out to other areas of the world, although Google didn’t make any announcement as to when that might happen.

Considering the wealth of misinformation out there, the sooner the better.

NEXT: No more YouTube comments on almost every video featuring minors