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YouTube CEO said algorithm, human moderators key to battling fake news - Hollywood Reporter

24.01.2020, 13:19
Photo credit: Ukrinform
Photo credit: Ukrinform

"The most important thing is raising authoritative voices and authoritative publishers when there's important news events," Susan Wojcicki told the World Economic Forum in Switzerland, as to The Hollywood Reporter.

YouTube, which started out as a digital platform for user-generated content, like other media distributors has found itself increasingly fed bad and inaccurate information, especially during times of breaking news events and election campaigns.

To tackle misinformation, or so-called fake news, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of the Google-owned video streaming giant, on Thursday said YouTube has worked to reduce borderline content and amplify authoritative voices and publishers.

"The most important thing is raising authoritative voices and authoritative publishers when there's important news events," she told a session on the weaponization of the internet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Wojcicki said every time YouTube algorithmically identifies breaking news, the video platform uses machine learning to recommend content from top news publishers and trusted sources of accurate information. "That's the best insurance. Top publishers have a long history of providing accurate news. So we're raising them up," Wojcicki said.

She added that YouTube is also using human moderators to combat harmful video content. On the issue of conspiracy theories proliferating across the internet, the YouTube boss said "it may be going too far" to remove them from the platform.

Wojcicki instead argued context is important in tackling video content that, for example, argues the Earth is flat or the moon landing never occurred. "We'll have a link indicating this is when the Apollo moon landing happened, and is actually right there in the video. That's a way to strike a balance to ensure we're giving authoritative information so users will know what really happened," she said.

BBC director general Tony Hall, who also appeared on the panel, talked about using the power of the internet and social media to make sure accurate news coverage reaches digital consumers.

Hall said news sources needed "to amplify the good as opposed to knocking down the bad, where we spend an awful lot of time." Here the BBC has been working with rival news outlets like The Wall Street JournalThe Financial Times, newspaper The Hindu in India, Microsoft, Google and others to identify sources of misinformation early and minimize their exposure online.

"If you get rid of them, that just creates more audience," Hall warned. He added a trial run of the industry collaboration against misinformation generated impressive results during the recent British election.

"We did it for real and it worked. That combination of contact between media that people trust and Google and Facebook worked, and we took down content that was just plain wrong," Hall said.

The Hollywood Reporter

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