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YouTube adds video labels for both public or government funded content

Recent Hong Kong events have spurred YouTube to make the changes.
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YouTube has expanded a relatively new feature in the wake of the controversy over media coving the Hong Kong protests. All videos funded (either partially or totally) by government or public organizations will now feature a label in a select few countries. As of now, Hong Kong is the latest addition to the list of regions where this feature is live.

This feature makes it easier for viewers to distinguish between various video publishers. Amidst rising tensions in regions such as Hong Kong, YouTube say that updates like these can prove to be helpful and might potentially curb the spreading of “misinformation”.

While this feature was introduced in the US in February 2018 itself, the recent geopolitical situations may have persuaded the tech giant into releasing the update across Hong Kong as well.

“Inclusion of the information panel providing publisher context is based on information about the news publisher made available by Wikipedia and other independent third-party sources. It is not a comment by YouTube on the publisher’s or video’s editorial direction, or on a government’s editorial influence,” read the company’s video label policy.

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As of now, it was revealed that this feature is live in ten regions including the United States, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Germany, India, France, Italy, Poland, and Spain. Here’s how it works: If a video is uploaded by a public or government-funded news outlet such as the Voice of America and the BBC, it will feature a small label at the bottom of the video alongside a link that redirects to the organization’s Wikipedia page as Google evidently believes Wikipedia is an unbiased source.

This feature, YouTube says, allows viewers to understand a video publisher better and can help in judging the credibility of a certain video better. While this move by YouTube is receiving praise, the company is, however, being criticized for not clearly distinguishing between editorially independent news outlets taking government funding and government-run news outlets such as the China Xinhua News agency.

It is to be noted that these labels will not be visible while search results are displayed; they’re only visible while a video is being played. Also, they do not affect a channel’s ability to monetize its content.

Widening the horizon of this new feature must have followed Google’s recent reveal where it was reported that YouTube was used for spreading misinformation about the ongoing Hong Kong protests. Nearly 210 YouTube accounts were disabled by the tech giant in connection with the issue.

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