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YouTube is testing a fact-check tool that debunks conspiracy theories


By Rebecca Stewart, Trends Editor

March 10, 2019 | 3 min read

Responding to concerns around the spread of conspiracy theories and misinformation within its walls, YouTube has started experimenting with a new feature that alerts users when they're likely to be consuming fake news.


YouTube has been rolling out 'information panels' that inform viewers in search results / YouTube

YouTube has been rolling out 'information panels' that inform viewers in search results when they have looked up terms or topics that are 'prone to misinformation'.

For now, these this fact-checking feature only extends to search queries and YouTube will not be checking individual videos.

The tool is currently being tested in India — one of YouTube's largest markets. Select users are seeing it work on searches made in English and Hindi.

YouTube's verified third-party fact-checkers, like The Quint, are responsible for the information shown adjacent to results. Labels used to alert users to misinformation contain terms such as 'Hoax Alert' and Fake'.

CBS has reported that YouTube plans to expand the feature worldwide throughout the rest of the year.

Although Google itself has made a number bids to stifle fake news, including demoting unverified sources in its 'Top News' section, YouTube (along with rival Facebook) is under increasing pressure from authorities and advertisers to tackle the issue with rigour.

The fear of being aligned with misinformation online is making YouTube an increasingly complex space to navigate for brands. Recently, the platform was forced to remove ads from appearing next to content promoting 'anti-vax' beliefs after UK shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said it had contributed to creating a “public health emergency".

On brand safety as a whole, Google recently admitted that YouTube may never be "100% safe" for brands.

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