Fact-checking orgs have called out YouTube for allowing itself to be 'weaponized,' and say the video platform hasn't done enough to combat fake news

A group of fact checkers says YouTube needs to do more to combat disinformation and misinformation.Sean Gallup/Getty Images
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  • More than 80 fact-checking groups from around the world called on YouTube to do more to combat disinformation.

  • They say the company "is allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors."

  • The situation is particularly pronounced with non-English content and in the Global South, they said.

A global coalition of around 80 fact-checking groups has called out YouTube for being a significant conduit of disinformation and misinformation.

In an open letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the fact checkers said they do not see "much effort by YouTube to implement policies that address the problem."

"On the contrary, YouTube is allowing its platform to be weaponized by unscrupulous actors to manipulate and exploit others, and to organize and fundraise themselves," the letter said. Fact-checking organizations that signed the document include Washington Post's Fact Checker, PolitiFact, and Full Fact in the UK.

The letter highlighted groups such as "Doctors for the Truth," which spread COVID-19 misinformation. The movement started in Germany before moving to Spain and Latin America, "all on Youtube," said the group.

The fact checkers also cited videos interfering with elections in various parts of the world, and those pushing the false US election fraud narrative.

The situation is particularly pronounced with non-English content and in the Global South — a region that includes Latin America, Asia, and Africa.

YouTube community guidelines state that "certain types of misleading or deceptive content with serious risk of egregious harm" are not allowed. They include content promoting harmful remedies or treatments.

YouTube said in a blog post last September it was banning all anti-vaccine content on its platform and would remove videos that characterize well-known approved vaccines as being harmful.

The group said instead of deleting videos, YouTube should work with fact checkers to provide context and offer debunks, as studies show that showing fact-checked information is more effective than removing content.

YouTube's parent company Google did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

Company spokesperson Elena Hernandez told the Associated Press that YouTube has "invested heavily in policies and products in all countries we operate to connect people to authoritative content, reduce the spread of borderline misinformation, and remove violative videos."

She said while fact-checking is "a crucial tool to help viewers make their own informed decisions," it is just "one piece of a much larger puzzle to address the spread of misinformation," per the AP.

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