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'Why YouTube's New Plan to Debunk Conspiracy Videos Won't Work' (vortex.com) 308

Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein believes YouTube's plan to combat conspiracy videos with "information cues" is "likely doomed to be almost entirely ineffective." The kind of viewers who are going to believe these kinds of false conspiracy videos are almost certainly going to say that the associated Wikipedia articles are wrong, that they're planted lies... Not helping matters at all is that Wikipedia's reputation for accuracy -- never all that good -- has been plunging in recent years, sometimes resulting in embarrassing Knowledge Panel errors for Google in search results...

The key to avoiding the contamination...is to minimize their visibility in the YouTube/Google ecosystem in the first place... Not only should they be prevented from ever getting into the trending lists, they should be deranked, demonetized, and excised from the YouTube recommended video system. They should be immediately removed from YouTube entirely if they contain specific attacks against individuals or other violations of the YouTube Terms of Service and/or Community Guidelines. These actions must be taken as rapidly as possible with appropriate due diligence, before these videos are able to do even more damage to innocent parties.

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'Why YouTube's New Plan to Debunk Conspiracy Videos Won't Work'

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  • by Tinsoldier314 ( 3811439 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:41PM (#56275663)
    Lauren's supposition that Wikipedia information will simply be ignored and that Youtube should simply censor the videos is based on a dodgy notion that censoring speech we don't like is somehow better than combating it with truths. Yes, they may ignore Wikipedia but not all of them. It may take longer but it's the more righteous path than censoring. imho
    • by the_povinator ( 936048 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:43PM (#56275669) Homepage
      I believe Lauren Weinstein used to be paid as some kind of Google shill and now that the agreement has been terminated, he seems to have turned on his former employer. Most of his posts now seem to have an anti-Google bias.
      • by the_povinator ( 936048 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:45PM (#56275677) Homepage
        ... also, who exactly is going to decide what information is "bad" and what is "good"? Google itself?

        I notice Lauren's attitudes towards censorship have not changed. When he blogged on Google+, he would delete any comment on his posts that disagreed with him even in a mild and reasonable way.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Obviously far-left communists confused about their gender should be responsible for dictating to the rest of us what's true, what's false, and what ideas are too powerful for normal peons to know about.

          • Agree. (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Gerald Butler ( 3528265 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @02:21PM (#56275873)

            Originally, I was very supportive of the whole LGBT movement and feminism etc., but, it seems like they've just veered into a place where they are anti-free-speech, anti-white-man, anti-man, anti-normal. If you don't have some kind of social dysfunction, then you are the problem. It couldn't possibly be that they are wacko!

            • Re: Agree. (Score:2, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              Cutting off my cock and calling myself sally isn't normal? Well fuck me.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              Feminist here. Against censorship and pro-free-speech. Being a white man myself in somewhat in favour of them too.

              Anyway, what she seems to be saying it's don't promote these videos. Don't remove them, but don't give them front page billing or put them high up the recommendations.

              Who decides? A better question would be who decides what gets promoted. Should popular TV news channels be giving equal time to flat earth and fake moon landing theories every time NASA gives a press conference? It's a spectrum, so

              • by q_e_t ( 5104099 )

                Feminist here. Against censorship and pro-free-speech. Being a white man myself in somewhat in favour of them too.

                I'd place myself in the same grouping. It seems to be the logical one - to assume people are of equal worth until their actions prove otherwise, but to also give people second and third chances whenever it is reasonable to do so (love the sinner, if not the sin).

            • by q_e_t ( 5104099 )

              Originally, I was very supportive of the whole LGBT movement and feminism etc., but, it seems like they've just veered into a place where they are anti-free-speech, anti-white-man, anti-man, anti-normal. If you don't have some kind of social dysfunction, then you are the problem. It couldn't possibly be that they are wacko!

              There are a lot of people with differing views in feminism and in LGBT. Don't assume that all (or even more than a minority) are against free speech, men, white men, or anything else. I know a number of feminists, and those who are LGBT, and it is not reasonable to generalise either of these groups, let alone lump feminism and LGBT together. It's not necessarily reasonable to lump L, G, B and T together, other than they tend to face similar challenges.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by swillden ( 191260 )

        I believe Lauren Weinstein used to be paid as some kind of Google shill and now that the agreement has been terminated, he seems to have turned on his former employer. Most of his posts now seem to have an anti-Google bias.

        In your world, does anyone ever say anything merely because they believe it, rather than because it supports their tribe or pays their bills?

    • by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:57PM (#56275747)

      ... on a dodgy notion that censoring speech we don't like is somehow better than combating it with truths.

      And yet, you should never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience. Also, YouTube can do as YouTube pleases. They're not the government and they don't have a monopoly on the online video space.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2018 @02:00PM (#56275769)

        If a baker has to make cakes for gay weddings, YouTube has to offer an equal platform for diverse users that they might disagree with.

        • That's hardly a good analogy. Customer relations in shops tend to be regulated, especially for certain attributes of individuals. And I'm pretty sure Google wouldn't refuse to distribute a video of a gay wedding.
        • According to court precedent, a baker has to bake a cake for a gay wedding. But they cannot require him to ice it with "God is dead". If a white supremacist couple comes into a Jewish bakery they must be served, but they can't require swastika icing.
          Youtube is a private company, not some sort of public square or civic space that must accommodate free expression in all forms. They offer an equal platform to everyone no matter what their political persuasion. (Being a private entity, they're not required to,
        • If a baker has to make cakes for gay weddings, YouTube has to offer an equal platform for diverse users that they might disagree with.

          When the gay couple removes the cake from the baker, no one attending the wedding will be associating the wedding with the baker. There's a clear division between the two. But with hosting a video on YouTube, YouTube is associated with the video. It's not difficult to see the video to YouTube connection, whereas with the baker one would had to go way out of their way to associate the gay wedding with the baker.

          The gay wedding does not tarnish the bakers good name. Hosting democracy destroying videos on your

        • by meglon ( 1001833 )
          Which shows the problem with most conservative thinking... turning a complex nuanced problem into a 5 second soundbite only shows that you don't understand what the fuck is going on.... and dipshits who marked you as "insightful" are as stupid as your comment.

          While a business can refuse to serve anyone, they are not allowed to discriminate against certain groups. These bakers who refuse to make wedding cakes are not simply refusing to serve someone, they intentionally go out of their way to make sure the
      • Also, YouTube can do as YouTube pleases. They're not the government and they don't have a monopoly on the online video space.

        Fundamentally I agree with you, but I'm still a bit uneasy. Really, YouTube DOES pretty much have a monopoly when it comes to the average citizen being able to upload a video and having a decent chance of it being seen by at least tens of thousands of people. With great power comes great responsibility. If YouTube either is ineffective at rising to that responsibility, or doesn't take it seriously, then perhaps legislative intervention is in order. And perhaps it's NOT in order - I'm simply saying that a kn

      • The phone companies are not monopolies, and are not government, should they be able to censor your calls, or your messages, or the websites you visit?

      • And yet, you should never argue with an idiot. They will only bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.

        You're right, don't argue with an idiot, but in this case we're not talking about arguing with the one in the pulpit, we're trying to educate his followers (the viewers on YouTube) and I think that's different in a very meaningful way.

    • Yes, they may ignore Wikipedia but not all of them. It may take longer but it's the more righteous path than censoring. imho

      There is a danger in giving a wingnut a soap box. Not only does it embolden the wingnut, and give him a sense of authority because people are stupid enough to figuratively look up to people they literally have to look up to, but it also legitimizes them by associating them with your brand of soap.

      On the other hand, carriers who moderate some content are sometimes held responsible for moderating more content. It's best to moderate no content, except as demanded by the law. But how do you avoid legitimizing t

      • They give you a soapbox here...

        • They give you a soapbox here...

          Sure. And Slashdot has built a reputation for permitting wingnuts like me to speak freely. But Youtube has no such reputation...

    • censoring speech we don't like

      It's more censoring speech that is not fact but passed along as fact. If it can be proven not to be factual, then it shouldn't be afforded any sort of censorship protection.

    • by tomhath ( 637240 )

      It may take longer but it's the more righteous path than censoring.

      It's only righteous if they are completely fair in determining when to link to the "accurate" story. But there is no way that can ever happen because you will never get anyone to agree on what's fair (especially with Google making the call).

    • by Z80a ( 971949 )

      What the of author of the article is failing to see is that there's no such thing as "conspiracy theory switch", and there are a bunch of people on the middle of this path to crazy shit that can most likely be tossed off the path of the gay frogs.
      But i think allowing people to post debunk responses to videos would help quite a bit too, as you have video vs video instead of video vs boring text, and even allow you to post videos of people that are not considered exactly left but still debunking the thing.

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 )

      Her main supposition is that the videos that will be censored will, of course, be the ones that disagree with her own specific brand of liberal politics. And that will probably be true at first. But what never occurs to her or her ilk is that someday the winds could change out of nowhere, and it could become *their* speech that's suddenly being censored. When you create the censorship machine, it's pretty arrogant to think that only you and your allies will ever control it.

      Robespierre sent many men to the g

  • Idiots (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:43PM (#56275667)

    The problem is that they think they know best for everyone else. Their default position is authoritarian and dictatorial.

    The best way to entrench an idea is to tell someone they're wrong, and be a smug, condescending, elitist asshole while doing so.

    So... Basically why the Democrats lost in 2016, and why the left in general is losing the culture war. They can't get over how fucking smart they think they are, and how stupid everyone else is for not thinking the same thing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Notabadguy ( 961343 )

      The problem is that they think they know best for everyone else. Their default position is authoritarian and dictatorial.

      The best way to entrench an idea is to tell someone they're wrong, and be a smug, condescending, elitist asshole while doing so.

      So... Basically why the Democrats lost in 2016, and why the left in general is losing the culture war. They can't get over how fucking smart they think they are, and how stupid everyone else is for not thinking the same thing.

      This.

  • by aglider ( 2435074 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:47PM (#56275685) Homepage

    Because you need humans for debunking.
    And humans are biased.
    AI won't be of effective help as it lacks trasversale knowledge.
    And in the end, you need humans to train AI and to sample the outcomes.

    It won't work.

  • "De-Platforming" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlueStrat ( 756137 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:51PM (#56275705)

    It's how opposing voices are to be swept from public view & dissemination. Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al are all working along the same path to de-platform views conflicting with Leftist/Progressive dogma and silence them. It's not too far down this path where we get to the pogroms, camps, and ovens part.

    Strat

    • Progressivism (aka US 'Liberalism'): Ideas so good they need a police/surveillance-state to enforce.

      Right. Because liberals are constantly campaigning for increased police power, more government surveillance, and less protection of civil rights, while conservatives campaign against them.

      Oh, wait a minute, it's the other way around. Well, whatever. I Know I'm Right Anyway.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Right. Because liberals are constantly campaigning for increased police power,

        A.k.a. Gun control. So yes.

        Also licensing laws for professions, telling people what health care they must purchase, prohibiting plastic grocery bags, mandatory recycling, etc., etc. etc.

        more government surveillance

        Snowden caught which president’s administration spying?

        and less protection of civil rights

        Gun ownership is a civil right.

        while conservatives campaign against them.

        Oh, wait a minute, it's the other way around.

        50 years ago maybe you could make this argument. The facts don't support it now, and they haven't for a long time.

    • Google, Facebook, Twitter, et al are all working along the same path to

      So go to Gab then. You'll fit right in.

  • A single video with some far-out theory? Crackpot.

    A far-out video with a host of other videos and links claiming it's false? Obviously a kernel of truth someone is trying to cover up, they can't tell me what to think...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by lgw ( 121541 )

      Far better is to link to equally far out crackpot conspiracy theories that disagree with the first. It's the style of these things that appeals: let me tell you the secret that will make you smarter than the smug assholes who look down on you. Simply present the truth in that style.

      Shit, I just figured out why 12 Rules for Life is selling like it's printed on money. Damn psychologists knowing more about psychology than me and getting there first.

  • by UnknownSoldier ( 67820 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @01:56PM (#56275735)

    This is the same retard who thinks:

    https://plus.google.com/+Laure... [google.com]

    "For the record, I don't run any ad blockers. Basically, I consider them unethical"

    /sarcasm Apparently going to the bathroom during an ad is unethical.

    And now he thinks censorship will work?

    Only cowards censor.

    Why?

    Ignoring a problem doesn't make it go away.

    ONLY by having a rational discussion, where people are FORCED to confront their biases will they ever learn to see the pros/cons of BOTH sides.

  • Google wants all the revenue generated by the conspiracy theory peddlers and some minor peg for a media spin doctor to rattle off a long list of things Google has done to provide access to the accurate information. That is all.

    Whatever solution or mitigation one suggests, if it cuts into google ad revenue it is a non starter. As far as Google is concerened.

  • You can go on YouTube and see all shows of videos "proving" the Earth is flat. The shape of the Earth being round doesn't require complicated physics and a graduate degree yet people insist it is flat. There is nothing you can do to change the minds of these people.
    • Flat Earthers don't believe the Earth is flat. It's a joke, and it's fun to try and contrive ridiculous explanations for physical phenomena (moon, stars, day/night cycle, etc.) that pass increasing levels of scrutiny.

      They offer nullable hypotheses, accept contradicting evidence, and revise. They're following the exact style of reasoning that astronomers did up until a century or so ago. They're just having a laugh by anchoring to the presumption that the Earth is flat.

      If you don't get the joke, you're du

      • If you don't get the joke, you're dumber than you think they are.

        You were saying? [youtube.com]

        Clearly you don't actually talk to these people. There are some people on this world that don't believe in basic science. You apparently think they don't exist.

        • by tomhath ( 637240 )

          There are some people on this world that don't believe in basic science.

          There are also people on the world who can't see a joke when it hits them in the face.

          • Have you talked to these people? Some of them are not joking. They truly believe in things like the Earth is flat. They are also are the same people who don't believe in blood transfusions and people are possessed by "evil spirits". The problem is that these people take these "joke" videos seriously as fact.
      • To be fair, his username is "UnknowingFool", so his position on this is appropriate...

      • I know several Flat Earthers... they certainly don't believe it is a joke. They are very serious. Almost all serious Flat Earthers are that way for religious reasons... they already believe totally bizarre stuff and the trip to Flat Earth isn't that far of a walk.

  • by tonywestonuk ( 261622 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @02:14PM (#56275843)

    The economics doesn't lie - Tax doesn't fund spending, and cant fund spending.

    Yet this is against the mainstream politics view that it does and we need to cut spending, or increase tax to reduce the deficit.

    Will the mainstream attempt to limit visibility of these 'fake' articles that say tax does not fund spending?

  • Nothing like a good ol' call for censorship early in the morning. If we get rid of conspiracy theory videos, might as well get rid of any religious videos. Also, if someone really does find out something and tries to publish it on youtube at least... instantly crushed. :) Maybe one day we'll be like Germany and the US government itself will be threatening fines for unliked information.
  • Yup (Score:3, Funny)

    by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @02:59PM (#56276045)

    The Wikipedia articles ARE wrong.
    They ARE planted lies.
    That's WHY Google is doing this.

  • You'd lose the views and the adverts sold on those things are bound to be profitable. If you're gullible enough to think the last two or three school shootings were false flag operations you're probably in the market for some expensive supplements, some gold, or a bucket of food for that shed you call a bunker.After all, there's a sucker born every minute.

    The way you stop this is funding schools, especially the liberal arts. e.g. reading. Critical thinking is a skill and like any skill it can be taught.
  • What is truth and what is conspiracy theory? Or what is Truth or what is PROPAGANDA?

    Just because the government or the media says it makes it true? Is there REAL video of the incident or is it staged like a Hollywood film? How do you know Trump is REALLY president? You saw something on the Television, video, on the news? How do you know it's not a Hollywood staged video? Where YOU personally there WHEN it happened?

    You were ON SITE and physically SAW JFK shot by Oswald right? You PERSONALLY were on the 6th f

  • by Vektuz ( 886618 ) on Saturday March 17, 2018 @05:09PM (#56276679)
    Once a person has been "caught" in a conspiracy theory is like being caught in a cult. They become evidence immune.
    1. All evidence that disproves the conspiracy is planted and thus part of the conspiracy. It must be suppressed.
    2. All evidence that can be construed as even remotely supporting the conspiracy is the only true evidence. It must be echoed.
    3. All lack of evidence either way is proof of a cover up by the conspiracy. The lack of it proves the conspiracy.
    4. Any authority figure that speaks out against the conspiracy is part of the conspiracy. They must be suppressed.
    5. Any authority figure that agrees with the conspiracy is part of the enlightened ones and is the only trusted source of truth. They must be echoed.


    Once someone has sunk that deep into a conspiracy theory (and I'm sure several readers have) there really isn't any point arguing with them or disagreeing with them or trying to engage with them in any meaningful way, they are lost.
  • seriously if you are getting your information on topics from youtube videos you are already too far fucked up to be worth saving. Besides which throwing a spotlight on conspiracy theory garbage has the opposite effect, it reinforces it as after all why give focus to something and spend time debunking unless you have something to hide. You can't win arguments with people that have already burned out most of their logic brain cells.
  • The freedom to publish.
    The freedom to comment.
    The ability to search and find a result with out another site getting placed over the results for political reasons.
    The freedom to search for any topics like history.
    The freedom to comment on politics.
    To talk about topics like illegal immigration.
    To talk about their OS.
    Cryptography and maths.
    About cars and trucks.
    The more a US party political brand attempts to get between the user and their use of search the more users will look for a better search
  • Wikipedia went through their hurdles long ago. As in 10-15 years ago. It is being managed at surprisingly good levels. It hasn't outwardly programmatically changed in all that time.

    This is testament to the basic 'pull' tech of ordinary HTML.

    The only real problem is the 'push' technologies that support rapid spread of ideas, any idea, good or bad. Eliminate 'push'ing and the fake news problem mostly goes away.

    Let the Web go back to what it was intended to be - an information repository.

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