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“Fact checkers” gang up to demand YouTube censors more “misinformation”

Piling on the pressure.
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Third party “fact-checkers” appear determined not only to maintain their business – all too often consisting of what critics consider to be censorship delegated by Big Tech – but, like any rising industry, they would like to see that business grow.

It seems as if they see the opportunity for growth in focusing more on languages other than English and spreading their “fact-checking” operations to those markets as well.

That is one take on why as many as 80 such organizations have now come together to call on YouTube to step up moderation and censorship even further. They, however, frame their appeal as concern that the platform is “a major conduit” of harmful misinformation around the world and put an emphasis on non-English content.

The 80 organizations are based in more than 40 countries, and call themselves “independent, non-partisan.” But most of them are obscure groups whose backing and funding is often nontransparent – making it difficult for anyone to “fact-check” their claim to independence and political neutrality.

Appearing to attempt to fan the flames of misinformation panic, the open letter addressed to CEO Susan Wojcicki accuses YouTube of being weaponized by “unscrupulous actors” who “manipulate and exploit others.”

These “fact-checkers” believe that what YouTube is already doing is not enough and want Google’s video giant to map out a more efficient plan for “policy and product interventions (…) and to do so with the world’s independent, nonpartisan fact-checking organizations.”

Once the culprits are identified in this way, “fact-checkers” want YouTube to more aggressively demonetize them, while giving these outfits more work to do. Other than stopping repeatedly flagged creators from monetizing through ads, the letter suggests preventing them from pointing viewers toward outside payment platforms.

In particular, they seem unhappy that some of the money that could go to them is spent by YouTube on developing censorship algorithms and automating the process.

Instead, the letter says that YouTube should collaborate more deeply with “fact-checkers” – and that means “systemtically investing in independent fact-checking efforts around the world.”

Among the signatories are Africa Check, Rappler from the Philippines, France-based Science Feedback, India’s Factly and Colombia’s Colombiacheck.

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