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ІМІ, "Teksty" and the MCIP Strategic Communications Center create a task force to develop recommendations regarding YouTube

29.11.2023, 16:10
Photo: screenshot from the Ukrinform livestream
Photo: screenshot from the Ukrinform livestream

The Institute of Mass Information, "Teksty" and the Center of Strategic Communications and Information Security under the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy are creating a task force to develop recommendations regarding the work of YouTube in Ukraine. The organizations invite their colleagues to join the initiative.

This was announced by the director of the IMI, Oksana Romaniuk, during a discussion of the study "Addiction spiral: How YouTube algorithms promote conspiracies and propaganda" at the Ukraine–Ukrinform Media Center on November 28.

Namely, the task force will review the possibilities for regulating YouTube's policies to systematically counteract the influence of Russian propaganda channels, develop recommendations, as well as quality and transparency standards, for Ukrainian channels and bloggers.

According to Romaniuk, there are several vectors that need to be developed. The first is the development of YouTube bloggers and supporting high-quality, reliable and ethical content; the second is transparency and YouTube channels' interaction with the state (e.g. registering them as online media outlets according to the new Law on Media), and the third is counteracting hostile content promoting the war.

"Since YouTube is an information tool and we are living in wartime, we need to talk about systematic, and not case-by-case, counteraction to the Kremlin's aggressive propaganda on the part of YouTube. Unfortunately, on our own, as individual organizations, we can't get through to YouTube the corporation and to have them respond in any systematic way, which is a problem we run into all the time. We hope that partnering will help us have a more effective and powerful impact," said the director of the IMI.

Oksana Romaniuk also added that, according to a study by the IMI, 65 out of the 100 most popular YouTube channels in Ukraine target children and teenagers. However, no one is looking into this content, which likely contains Russian propaganda narratives. "This is another matter that concerns us as researchers: initiating conversations with corporations and raise this issue at a more serious level," she added.

As a reminder, the Institute of Mass Information has identified at least 46 active pro-Russian YouTube channels which target Russians and foreign citizens and spread propaganda, racist statements, upload videos containing graphic violence, justify Russia's war on Ukraine, and incite hatred against Ukrainians. Such YouTube channels include "Zvezda" (the channel of the Russian Ministry of Defense), "SPAS-STREAM", "Soloviev LIVE", "Tsargrad TV", etc. These pro-Kremlin channels mostly glorify the Russian occupiers, justify Russia's war on Ukraine and spread hatred towards Ukrainians. Moreover, some Russian channels share racist statements.

Ukraine ranks third in Eastern Europe by the number of YouTube content creators, according to a report by the strategic influencer marketing agency AIR.

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