YouTube 'pushing extreme content and conspiracy theories'

Josh Hall's picture
by Josh Hall

YouTube's search algorithm is promoting extreme content and conspiracy theory videos, according to an investigation by Sky News.

The broadcaster found that YouTube is featuring videos containing misinformation prominently in its automatically-generated recommendations.

Sky said a search for "Maddy McCann" produces a series of recommendations from conspiracy theorists, some of which have had millions of views.

Meanwhile searches for terms relating to 5G yield recommendations including videos suggesting that the technology is killing birds.

Marketers have long been wary of brand safety on platforms such as YouTube.

Dozens of brands pulled their advertising spend from the streaming service in 2017, following a Sunday Times investigation that found creative was being placed alongside extremist material.

As previously reported, Diageo, one of the most prominent companies to retreat from YouTube, ran a small-scale return to the platform only as recently as April.

Meanwhile combating misinformation has become an apparent priority for every major social media platform.

In May Instagram announced that it would begin fact-checking posts, using infrastructure developed by its parent company Facebook.

YouTube itself is also trialling fact-checking for controversial subjects. In March the company began running popups alerting users when they search for topics in which misinformation is common.

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