YouTube is fighting back against climate change deniers by implementing a fact-checking box below user-uploaded videos on the controversial topic.

The system will surface information from Wikipedia or Britannica Encyclopedia to display factual information in bitesize chunks below videos on climate change.

YouTube already implemented the feature for videos on a slew of other contentious topics, including the MMR vaccination, the moon landing and UFOs. 

However, this is the first time the platform has targeted climate change deniers.

The feature is the latest step from the Google-owned video platform in its battle to reduce the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories on the service.

Users who upload their content to YouTube cannot stop the service displaying blurbs of factual information below their content. 

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YouTube is subtly taking on climate change deniers by providing a fact-checking box below some videos that reject climate change. This is the next step from the Google-owned video platform in its war on misinformation and conspiracy theories (pictured)

YouTube is subtly taking on climate change deniers by providing a fact-checking box below some videos that reject climate change. This is the next step from the Google-owned video platform in its war on misinformation and conspiracy theories (pictured)

YouTube is subtly taking on climate change deniers by providing a fact-checking box below some videos that reject climate change. This is the next step from the Google-owned video platform in its war on misinformation and conspiracy theories (pictured)

The feature, which was first announced in March, was initially intended to be used for conspiracy theory videos on topics like the Oklahoma bombing and moon landing.

This month, YouTube has since expanded the fact-checking feature to include more controversial subjects, like the MMR vaccination and the perceived link to autism.

The introduction of climate change information marks the first time YouTube has strayed into the scientific realm.

At the moment, the scientific fact-checking blurbs are only visible to US-based users, however, YouTube is slowly rolling-out the feature to viewers worldwide.

In one example of the updated feature, a Wikipedia snippet read: ‘multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming.’ 

YouTube spokesperson has previously confirmed there will be a time delay from when a Wikipedia page is edited to when it appears on the preview beneath a video.

This is designed to allow Wikipedia editors time to catch any discrepancies that sneak under the radar. 

‘I’d guess that it will have some influence, at least on those people who don’t know much about the subject,’ Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communication, told BuzzFeed News

‘Might be confusing to some people, but that’s probably better than just accepting the denier video at face value.’

YouTube initially neglected to tell Wikipedia that it would be using its content for this purpose, but contact between the two firms has since taken place with the site working together to combat the propagation of inaccurate information. 

A post by Wikipedia to its users and administrators revealed a list of seven topics Youtube would be using Wikipedia information for on its site, including the MMR vaccine and global warming.

When the new Wikipedia blurb policy took effect in July, YouTube did not publicly confirm climate change was an impacted topic.

Users were not notified of the change, with the change only noticed once the blurbs  started to appear sporadically on certain videos.

A post by Wikipedia to its users and administrators revealed a list of seven topics that Youtube would be using Wikipedia information for on its site, including the MMR vaccine and global warming

A post by Wikipedia to its users and administrators revealed a list of seven topics that Youtube would be using Wikipedia information for on its site, including the MMR vaccine and global warming

When the new Wikipedia blurb policy took effect in July, YouTube did not publicly say that climate change was an impacted topic

When the new Wikipedia blurb policy took effect in July, YouTube did not publicly say that climate change was an impacted topic

YouTube initially neglected to tell Wikipedia that it would be using its content for this purpose, but contact between the two firms has since taken place with the site working together to combat the propagation of inaccurate information 

The Heartland Institute – a think tank that posts videos questioning climate change – confirmed it was not informed of the change by YouTube.

Meanwhile, PragerU, a nonprofit online institution that has also been affected by the recent addition of climate change to the feature, says the latest update is an example of YouTube displaying political bias.

‘Despite claiming to be a public forum and a platform open to all, YouTube is clearly a left-wing organization,’ Craig Strazzeri, PragerU’s chief marketing officer, said.

‘This is just another mistake in a long line of giant missteps that erodes America’s trust in Big Tech, much like what has already happened with the mainstream news media.’

WHAT YOUTUBE VIDEOS WILL FEATURE WIKIPEDIA FACT-CHECKING PREVIEWS?  

Wikipedia was provided with a list of topics of which its content would appear below videos of certain topics.  

Those articles are –

  • Global warming
  • Dulce Base
  • Lilla Saltsjöbadsavtalet
  • 1980 Camarate air crash
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • Kecksburg UFO incident
  • MMR vaccine

YouTube says the policy is designed to give users easy access to external information to provide context and information on topics prone to misinformation.

It has also revealed that in the coming months more videos will see the labels appearing.  

‘I welcome this change,’ Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University, told BuzzFeed News. 

‘I appreciate that YouTube is taking their responsibility seriously to help people understand the difference.’   

Jason Reifler, a political science professor at the University of Exeter, also lavished praise on YouTube for making the move.  

‘They could have chosen wording that’s stronger and gets more to what the real terms of debate are between the extremely well-supported consensus scientific video versus the much, much smaller proportion of sceptics,’ Dr Reifler told BuzzFeed News.

‘I’m doubtful this first step is going to do much. But I hope it does!’





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