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article imageOp-Ed: YouTube tries to police its channels as conspiracy theories go on

By Karen Graham     Mar 4, 2018 in Internet
YouTube was supposed to clean up its site this year, pledging to weed out "bad actors," especially after advertisers voiced concerns their advertised brands were appearing next to extremist content.
Misleading, fake news, conspiracy theories — call them what you will, but many videos on YouTube fall under these labels, according to some people. And according to Bloomberg News, YouTube said in December it would hire 10,000 moderators to weed out fake or misleading videos.
Last week, according to CNN News, YouTube reprimanded the InfoWars site and its founder, notorious conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, for claiming student activists were actors.
Students leave Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland  Florida  the scene of the shooting
Students leave Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the scene of the shooting
Michele Eve SANDBERG, AFP
Right now, the trending videos on YouTube center around the Parkland school shooting in Florida in February and gun-related videos, for and against the weapons. And the video channel jumped into the spotlight after it was criticized for allowing a video to air that erroneously claimed student David Hogg was an actor.
Interestingly, not everyone is upset at YouTube for airing far-right or allegedly fake news on its channels, with the Military Arms Channel, which has almost 680,000 subscribers, suggesting YouTube has been overzealous in their crackdown, suggesting that creators who are "fighting for our 2nd Amendment rights" are being targeted by the crackdown.
YouTube celebrity Logan Paul  seen in 2016  apologized amid a wave of outrage over his video of a ma...
YouTube celebrity Logan Paul, seen in 2016, apologized amid a wave of outrage over his video of a man in Japan who committed suicide
Nicholas Hunt, GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
The real issue is advertisers
The other day, CNN News ran a story claiming they had discovered ads on InfoWars' channels from companies and organizations such as Nike, Acer, 20th Century Fox, Paramount Network, the Mormon Church, Moen, Expedia (EXPE), Alibaba (BABA), HomeAway, Mozilla, the NRA, Honey, Wix, and ClassPass.
There was even an ad for USA for UNHCR, a group that supports the UN refugee agency UNHCR, asking for donations for Rohingya refugees. The thing is, many of the companies say they had no idea YouTube was allowing their advertising to appear there.
Advertisers contribute $27 billion in annual revenue to YouTube's parent Google (GOOG). And YouTube is already under fire to clean up its content after the Logan Paul scandal and other questionable videos.
YouTube does have filters in place that can be used by companies who prefer not to have their ads run on "questionable" channels. Nike and some other brands opted into a "sensitive subject exclusion" filter to better control where their ads appear.
The exclusion filters include, according to YouTube: "Tragedy and Conflict;" "Sensitive Social Issues;" "Sexually Suggestive Content;" "Sensational & Shocking;" and "Profanity & Rough Language." The problem seems to be the filters are not working like they should.
YouTube star and new UNICEF Global Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh speaks at a press conference in N...
YouTube star and new UNICEF Global Goodwill Ambassador Lilly Singh speaks at a press conference in New Delhi
Sajjad Hussain, AFP/File
"We have a filter and brand safety assurances from Google our content would never run around offensive content," a Paramount Network spokesperson said, adding that the company is trying to find out what "went wrong."
Needless to say, companies in the public eye, or church groups like the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, pay for ads and expect that filters should be in place — and they were not working. A spokesperson for USA for UNHCR said that this was the group's first time running ads on YouTube and that it would now pull its ads from all of YouTube, and has asked for their money back that went to InfoWars.
The bottom line: free speech cannot be infringed upon, but if a company or any group or organization prefers to not advertise on certain channels, then this is also their right. As for people who would rather believe in conspiracy theories and fake news? That is their right, too.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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