YouTube says “authoritative sources” are 10x more likely to top search results for some newsworthy events

The announcement comes days after YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the site won’t recommend YouTubers during breaking news events.


In January, YouTube changed its algorithm to reduce recommendations of content that doesn’t break any rules but that YouTube deems to be “borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways.”

Since making this initial change, YouTube has rolled out more than 30 additional changes to further suppress this content and raise up what it deems to be “authoritative sources” (legacy media outlets that YouTube deems to be trustworthy).

Now YouTube has published a blog post highlighting just how much these authoritative sources have benefited from these changes this year.

One key stat from this post is that “consumption on authoritative news partners’ channels has grown by 60 percent” – a sign that a significant number of views are now being directed to legacy media outlets instead of independent YouTubers through the site’s algorithms.

YouTube highlights just how influential these algorithms are when it comes to recommending these authoritative sources over independent YouTubers in an example about Brexit search results:

“For example, try searching for “Brexit.” While there will be slight variations, on average, 93% of the videos in global top 10 results come from high-authority channels.”

YouTube search results for “Brexit”
YouTube search results for “Brexit”

To put it another way, independent news commentators on YouTube have just a 7% chance of making the top 10 search results for a newsworthy term like Brexit while the larger and more established legacy media outlets are over 10x more likely to be recommended.

Another revelation from the post is that the video-sharing site has started to show text-based news article previews in its search results:

“Reliable information becomes especially critical as news is breaking. But as events are unfolding, it can take time to produce high-quality videos containing verified facts. So we've started providing short previews of text-based news articles in search results on YouTube, along with a reminder that breaking and developing news can rapidly change.”

On Sunday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that the site won’t recommend YouTubers for breaking news. This indicates that even text-based content will be prioritized over videos from YouTubers during breaking news events – and this is happening on a site that’s dedicated to video.

Overall the post puts some specific numbers behind YouTube’s previous corporate updates on authoritative sources and shows just how difficult it’s become for independent YouTubers to get their content recommended on the site.


Tom Parker

Tom Parker is a head contributor for Reclaim The Net and provides news and analysis on how we can promote free speech, stop censorship, and protect our personal data online. [email protected]
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