Debunked claims appear in top 5 videos for news about Las Vegas shooting, NFL anthem protests
YouTube this week surfaced videos peddling misinformation, hateful messages and conspiracy theories to users searching about mainstream news events—problems that caused the site to change its search results to promote more authoritative sources.
For example, the fifth result when searching “Las Vegas shooting” on YouTube late Tuesday yielded a video titled “Proof Las Vegas Shooting Was a FALSE FLAG attack—Shooter on 4th Floor.” The video said there were multiple shooters in Sunday’s mass shooting, a claim refuted by law enforcement. Posted by a channel called the End Times News Report, it had amassed more than 1.1 million views in about 27 hours.
The fourth result when searching “NFL anthem protest” on Wednesday was a video that claimed Anheuser-Busch InBev BUD +1.06% NV was considering pulling its sponsorship of the National Football League over national anthem protests—and urged viewers to push the company to do so. The claim had been widely debunked days before.
.. The high search ranking of the End Times News Report video claiming there was a second shooter in Las Vegas helped it gain 371,000 views over four hours late Tuesday. On Wednesday, YouTube removed the video.
.. “I know I’m not as authoritative as The Wall Street Journal or New York Times , ” he said. “I’m just a guy with a computer offering an opinion, and to get punished for that is draconian.”
.. When a user watches a dubious video, YouTube typically suggests similar videos, a practice that can confirm users’ existing biases. But The Wall Street Journal found cases this week in which YouTube suggested conspiracy-theory and highly politicized videos next to videos from mainstream news sources, suggesting the site was also pushing fringe content to users who haven’t shown an interest in it.
.. The person familiar with YouTube said the company recognizes there are problems with its “Up next” algorithm and it is examining changes to promote more authoritative results.