After being accused of promoting clickbait culture and “fake news” from legacy media outlets, YouTube is now taking steps to dial down on the recommendations of “conspiracy theories” to its viewers.
Initially introduced in the US, this feature is now expanding to other regions with the UK being the latest addition to the list of countries where conspiracy theories will not be actively recommended by the video-sharing platform.
A spokesperson from YouTube confirmed that this feature is now live in the UK, and that it will take some time for it to work to its fullest potential. Yesterday, CEO Susan Wojcicki said that YouTube believes it needs to do even more to curb the spread of “misinformation” across its platform.
The company said that it generally avoided recommending any sort of conspiracy or “junk science” videos; however, there is still a likelihood that, in a few cases, the algorithms may end up doing so.
As of now, it is not clear when this new feature will be fully functional but it is reasonable to assume that there will be fewer conspiracy videos that will show up in users' feed from now on. That is, by whatever definition YouTube means by “conspiracy”.
Through this new policy, YouTube aims to battle content that is “borderline” acceptable but still comes under what they call “misinformation”. For example, videos that claim the earth to be flat and suspicions about events such as 9/11 terror attacks are a few video-categories that will be affected by this new feature.
A spokesperson for YouTube told has said that the US test of a reduction in “conspiracy” recommendations has led to a drop in the number of views from recommendations by more than 50%.
Rising scrutiny from legacy media outlets as well as the government, and advertisers opting to not associate their advertisements with “conspiracy” content, are thought to have been behind YouTube implementing the aforementioned features and content changes.
It's not yet known whether these changes will affect wider and more mainstream conspiracy theories such as those surrounding the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, the Jeffrey Epstein suicide, the collusion between Russia and the Trump 2016 election campaign, amongst others. For example, a recent poll has suggested that only 33% of voters believe that Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide. Only time will tell whether this mainstream view will be allowed on YouTube.