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YouTube will add information from Wikipedia to videos about conspiracies (theverge.com)
116 points by coloneltcb 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

Why just conspiracies ? Why not cults ? Political speeches ? Nutrition ? Science ?

And who decide what's a conspiracy ?

After all, we were regarded as paranoid lunatics wearing tinfoil hats about the NSA surveillance, until PRISM came out and it became obvious we weren't.

Before Bamford, there was little in public about the NSA. ECHELON was total conspiracy theory.

So is the Israeli attack on USS Liberty during the Six-Day War still a conspiracy theory? I guess not, because there's a Wikipedia page. But it was denied for many years.

Even worse, Israeli false flag bombings in Egypt. They attempted to frame the Muslim Brotherhood. This was just a couple years after Israel got statehood. They denied it until 2000. "Lavon Affair" if you want to look it up.

USS Liberty, Israel continues to deny they did it intentionally and that there was any pressure to cover up.

I used USS Liberty because it's arguably no longer conspiracy theory, but still more controversial than NSA snooping.

But alleged activities of Israelis during the early years? That remains highly controversial. I do see a Wikipedia article about Irgun (Zionists) bombing the King David Hotel, however.

This is why I dislike the phrase conspiracy theory at times. Having a theory about a conspiracy due to some sort of evidence, is of course perfectly valid.

The real "conspiracy theories" tend not only to be against evidence, but also aren't things real human organizations are capible of pulling off. I can tell you that if a UFO really landed at a US military base, it would be on 20 different Facebook pages within an hour, secrecy be damned. Let alone keeping the thing secret for decades.

People believe conspiracies because they have forecasting power. Example, next time something bad happens listen carefully to see if there was a drill happening at the same time and the same place of the same thing occurring.

The conspiracy crowd is migrating to BitChute en masse, so this will add more fuel to the fire.

Looks interesting. But anything on clearnet remains vulnerable.

I don't think you would have been able to find any information on Wikipedia about proofs that "the NSA spies on everyone" is false. Anti-vaxers conspiracies, though, to pick an example, has plenty of public info on why they're wrong.

Why not indeed. Advertisers in general don't want to be associated with extremists of any stripe.

From the linked opinion piece in the story:


"YouTube leads viewers down a rabbit hole of extremism, while Google racks up the ad sales."

So the big question is, why not demonetize them? Removing all ads probably has a pretty significant impact on the algorithm already.

Why doesn't YouTube do the right thing? Stop making money on extremists? It seems like doing that would auto correct the problems.

They did that months ago. The whole 'adpocalypse'. You can not get ad money on anything even remotely controversial on youtube. Recently they've taken down tons of gun channels among other things.

I guess the devs tested with their adblock enabled,


I see an ad for a video game beside the video on this page.


I'm sure I could find plenty more examples.

Youtube has several levels of monetization. Some videos can still run ads, but only with advertisers that opt into it. They are really low paying ads and the creators make a fraction of the regular rate on it.

Also what in particular is wrong with this video? I don't have time to watch the whole thing. I thought the controversy was over "crisis actor" conspiracy theories especially. Which accuse victims of notable tragedies as being paid actors. And that sometimes result in them being harassed and mocked. And most of those videos are very quickly deleted from youtube as it is. Videos even mentioning their names or debunking the conspiracy theories are getting removed too.

I'm not sure if anyone really cares about random conspiracies about how much the CIA hates Julian Assange. Which may very well be true and doesn't offend anyone.

How would you define an "extremist of any type"?

Is someone who promotes a keto diet on YouTube an extremist following your logic? (considering they'd be pretty far outside the "common view" both of the population at large and of the medical community)

I imagine the videos of that keto guy wouldn't look too "advertiser-friendly" to Coke or McDonalds.

I, for one, hope YouTube actually follows your suggestion. The sooner the better. Then it can finally turn into GrandmaTV (its ultimate slow-motion goal, probably), and everyone will start leaving it, following their favorite creators to more decentralized and more censorship-free platforms like d.tube.

> And who decide what's a conspiracy ?

Well, Google. Its their website. They are going to do whatever they want with it.

No social responsibility, no responsibility to society.

Sure. Try selling me that one.

It's a first step to see if it's feasible according to the article:

> Wojcicki did not specify how many conspiracies were on the company’s initial list, but suggested it would expand over time. “What I like about this unit is that it’s actually pretty extensible,” she said. The company could show additional alternate sources of information under controversial elements in the future, she said.

The company could show additional alternate sources of information under controversial elements in the future

Part of the problem is that it's really trivial to make something appear to be controversial, especially in the age of "balanced reporting" where both (multiple?) sides are given equal exposure even if one is deep in crackpot realm. Even things like "10/10 scientists agree" are prone to foment controversy -- why are all these scientists agreeing, who's paying them?

Balance truly is a case of "the road to hell is paved with good intentions".

When we see a crackpot on TV, we see cheap amusement. A slow news day. A good idea (balance) gone horribly wrong.

But for those who believe the crackpot, it's validation. He must be an authority on the subject, why else would the BBC be talking to him?

We're so hell-bent on fairly representing both sides, that we start to forget that the counter to a fact, is a falsehood. Two political commentators may have contrasting viewpoints. Two sports pundits may have differing opinions on who the next transfer should be.

But the counter-point to actual fact is fiction.

I don't particularly recall the happenings around ECHELON circa 2000 being considered the stuff of paranoid lunatics.

People in general didn't care much more than they care about PRISM, but they didn't think it was unlikely.

Maybe you have forgotten. "The government is reading all my emails and text messages" was 100% the sort of thing that only anti-government fringe groups, crazy people and the paranoid would have considered likely. Nowadays it seems more likely than not.

I think you're a bit optimistic when you use the word "obvious". Some people still look at me as if I'm wearing a tinfoil hat whenever I bring up NSA surveillance.

YouTube should add Wikipedia citations next to every video. It should be an information resource and not source of disinformation.

YouTube also needs to fix search so that results are not full of computer-generated spam results. It's very surprising how poorly YouTube has been developed. The search is still embarrassingly bad after over a decade.

> And who decide what's a conspiracy?

Wikipedia admins with most patience and energy to participate in edit wars. Wikipedia admins also decide who else becomes a new Wikipedia admin and who gets banned, so once a group of people with same opinions gets a majority among the Wikipedia admins, their opinion becomes fixed as the official "truth".

Automatically adding Wikipedia information to YouTube videos will only increase the importance of the edit wars.

I don't like it.

There are some absolute lunatics posting their content out there, but that will always be the case. I don't think it's a problem that really needs solving. Even if it was, I don't think that this is a solution. If you are too quick to counter a statement, people may suspect that you have ulterior motives. If videos come along with these "corrections" many viewers will see that as proof that they're right and that the "mainstream" is trying to cover something up.

A video is a creative production. The creator makes it in a certain way for a certain reason. When the publisher interjects, tries to mold and reshape the content, provides their own commentary with it, that restricts the creator's artistic freedom over their content.

I don't expect that this pseudo-censorship (that's what it is - they're saying "we don't think your content is right, so we'll be giving your viewers what we think is right) will be applied neutrally, either. There are nutcases in all ideological directions, but I have a solid suspicion that these annotations will only be applied to those that are not in line with the "politically correct" zeitgeist.

Of course, YouTube is well within their rights to do whatever they want with their platform. This isn't at all an uncharacteristic development for them, either. They've consistently demonstrated that their only interest is money; they don't care for the small creators - or really even the viewers - all that much. If this is what keeps the advertisers happy then it's only the logical step for them.

I just don't like it.

This is not censorship. It's another form of "people interested in X might also be interested in Y". It's something platforms do all the time.

More like "people interested in X are wrong".

But they're also in the business of responding to search with facts.

YouTube is a strange platform in that respect, but if someone searching for the moon landing gets a conspiracy video in the results because it's popular I don't see anything wrong with YouTube including a snippet of verified information that relates to the query.

For them to be wrong, they'd have to have an opinion. Why do you think people watching a video like this have a strong opinion one way the other? Maybe they don't and are just looking around.

This is the most dangerous form of censorship: when people are led to believe (or told) that they are getting an unbiased set of ideas and information while it's not unbiased.

Under dictatorships it's common to claim that all conversations are allowed except fear mongering, spreading enemy propaganda and outlandish claims.

Over time the "Overton window" of what is considered not outlandish in public debate grows smaller. For example, during WW2 there were rumors in Germany about extermination camps that were dismissed as "crazy conspiracy theories".

Covertly manipulating the public opinion by suggesting some content instead of something else is easy to implement, effective and difficult to detect.

Only interested in money? They demonetize videos but leave on the platform. So Google ends up paying the infrastructure cost without any revenues.

Only interested in the money would be just remove the questionable content that advertisers have no interest being associated completely from YouTube.

Sounds like the opposite of only interested in the money?

Can you explain?

I think there are a few problems with this:

1. Definition of what is a conspiracy and what is not. There are some hot topics out there all the time (e.g. Trump and Russia collusion) - pointing out and not pointing out "conspiracies" is a statement within itself. You only have to think about Twitter and it's "verified accounts" hot water not so long ago [1].

2. Adding fuel to the fire - for some conspiracies the idea of covering them up makes them more real for many people. There are many posts on various social media platforms with the tag line "share this before <X> takes it down" (e.g. Facebook videos [2]).

3. Videos that debunk theories could also get thrown into this automated mess they'll undoubtedly make and will probably incur demonetization. The result of that may be less debunking videos, actually poisoning the well further.

4. Generally squashing freedom of speech means that needed discussion on a particular topic can't happen.

What I think they should do:

1. Have this as an opt-out feature which is mostly hidden, or an opt-in feature which is obvious.

2. Pick controversial topics of any kind and find for and against cases for them, allowing the user to investigate them both. Picking a side is dangerous.

3. Have smart humans go through and carefully select for and against cases - don't try to automate this as it will be gamed.

4. Don't use this information for classifying whether videos should be monetized.

[1] https://www.businessinsider.com.au/twitter-clamps-down-on-ve...

[2] https://www.facebook.com/TaxationIsTheft2/videos/51317619238...

The most glaring problem is that it simply doesn't work.

The only people who take conspiracy videos seriously, are people who have already decided they don't like the truth, and either want someone to agree with them, or want someone to invent the details/logic so they don't have to.

You're not dealing with people who aren't aware of the moon landings. You're dealing with people who have already chosen, for whatever reason, not to believe it.

Have you ever won an argument about a moon hoaxer with "yes, they did", or against a flat-earther with "no, it's round"? Embedding wiki summaries into youtube is simply taking the argument that never, ever works, and automating it.

"You cannot reason someone out of a position they did not reason themselves into."

While I think what you say is often true, there is still room for informing people not fully into it.

When I was around 14 I got emersed into various ufo theories and all sort of allegedly "mysterious" things. This all broke down once Wikipedia came around. I went there to learn more about the things I have read, not disprove it. It just turned out that the explanations were way more reasonable in pretty much all cases.

Similarly, I often meet people that just binge watched some YouTube videos and are intrigued by then, not completely convinced.

Personally I would like if YouTube included Wikipedia articles in every video as a general service, not just focused on conspiracy theories. There is plenty of incorrectness in other videos as well.

Surely you can acknowledge that some conspiracies, including those involving high-level state actors, have occurred? Why do you pigeonhole all conspiracies in such a way?

I'll admit, I homed in on the moon hoax because that's what the screenshots in the article show.

But I am struggling to come up with any valid conspiracies which were unravelled on youtube, or disproven on wikipedia. Suffice to say youtube is not famed for its investigative journalism. That's not what nutjobs are soaking up.

I was watching a show that was profiling flat-eathers, and one lady made a comment that really stood out to me. "So I did my own research - I watched four hours of videos on youtube."

This isn't investigative journalism. This isn't classified leaks. It's monetising the gullible.

Terms like "nut job" are unhelpful and even destructive. There are plenty of things that are considered common knowledge now that would have got you called a "nut job" 10 years ago except in academic circles. For instance, pointing out the fact that 90% of media is owned by six mega corporations was something that would get you labeled a conspiracy nut before. You couldn't point out the fact that maybe, just maybe desktop applications are phoning home. The response was What corporation would risk their brand for that? If you claimed that there was a trend to outsource jobs to Asia, you were paranoid. Bush and friends were making up the pretense to go to war. I called that out during the run up to the invasion and lost friends over it. And of course, the government is listening to all your phone calls. You were an absolute crackpot for thinking that.

The open internet without censorship is a good thing, and that's why all these things are common knowledge now. But these large corporations that own new media are trying to reel that back in and get you all under control again.

Sociopaths and pyschopaths exist, people. It's not like all conspiracies are of reptilian alien sort.

So, it happens that I have been indulging myself in watching flat earth videos on Youtube for the past few days. And I'm astonished that anybody can watch these and come to the belief that they're accurate. For example, no video explains the simple matter of how, in a "flat earth" model, seasons can occur without the sun traveling at different speeds across the sky through the year. Or how retrograde motion can be observed. These are obvious, glaring flaws.

On the other hand, I have found that there is a wealth of good information about the JFK assassination (although some whacky fringe bullshit too). In this case, I do think that the "establishment" narrative (if it's even reasonable to call the "lone nut" theory that anymore) is demonstrably false, and that Youtube provides good resources for showing it.

In other words: if you conclude, as I do, that the JFK assassination was a conspiracy but that the earth is not flat, then I think that the resources on Youtube does a good job of buttressing reasonable study on these matters.

I'm not nearly well versed enough on the JFK assassination to comment. But flat-earthers are pretty much the stereotype of what I had in mind with my original comment.

If you go into it disbelieving, you find something verging on absurdist comedy. If you go into it believing, you come out armed with theories and explanations to reinforce your belief.

What I do find interesting, is without knowing enough to form my own take on the JFK incident .. this same model also fits the experience you just described. You go in with your mind made up, and you come out with evidence. Whether you're right or wrong, you'll find exactly what you want to hear.

But to my original comment - would a wiki summary describing the "establishment narrative" have swayed you at all?

I went into the flat earth stuff absolutely ready to believe anything. I found some of the flat earthers to be surprisingly rational.

But at the end of the day, there are easy-to-observe phenomena (as I say, seasons and retrograde motion) which break their theory. And diving into the explanations of them drives the viewer much more directly into the insane and fringe elements of the group (you can confirm this yourself by searching "flat earth seasons" and comparing it to the results you get from searching simply "flat earth").

And while it's true that I already had a sense that the JFK murder was the result of a conspiracy, I wasn't certain when I started combing Youtube; I was prepared to accept evidence of any sort, pointing to any conclusion(s).

I remember finding "Rush to Judgment", a documentary-ish piece of media made just a year after the murder, and realizing how lucky I was to have a resource to find such a piece of media. Were my parents, who were just barely not yet born during this event, able to gain access to this media when they were my age? Of course not.

And then on the specifics:

I think that if there are similarly challenging facts to be found regarding the JFK assassination, on wikipedia or anywhere else, that I will be happy to accept them and change my mind. And I think that I'm fairly typical in this regard.

On the other hand, the lone-nut theory needs to overcome some basic facts that it can't explain, like the Sylvia Odio incident. And similarly, searching for explanations of this that fit into the lone-nut theory drives the viewer directly into the irrational and ad-hominem-driven portions of the available media.

It's a false equivalence argument used to discredit all investigative journalism. Any allegation of anything shady is instantly compared to Moon hoax and shape shifting reptile baloney.

On the contrary, I reasoned myself into believing the moon landing was a hoax, and I have yet to be presented with acceptable evidence that contradicts my theory.

Obviously, I have stricter criteria for "evidence" than what the general public accepts, but I nevertheless consider myself a rational person with excellent reasoning behind my theory. And I am willing to consider fresh evidence, if such were presented to me.

Could you elaborate? Do you believe all moon landings were fake, or just some? What about unmanned landings?

I do believe that China's unmanned lander is real. I don't believe that the US manned landings were real.

Here is more elaboration than I had planned:

I came to the conclusion that the landings were faked by my own reasoning. I grew up believing they were real, and only changed my mind in my 20s, after learning more about cosmic rays.

Cosmic Rays weren't even on the radar for the Apollo missions; US states had only just begun banning shoe-fitting fluoroscopes in the 60s.

That was the first inkling I had that something was suspect. Later I learned about Stanley Kubrick's alleged involvement in the documentary film, "Room 237".

Every other recorded major scientific advance has been followed by more observed results in the same area. Yet the official story is that astronauts drove around in moon buggies and played golf on the moon in the 1970s. We just haven't been back because ... there's no reason to go back? Is it not funny that there was a huge reason to get to the moon in the 60s and 70s, but once we got there that reason just vanished?

No, the official story is to me simply not plausible, whereas the alternative makes a ton of sense. The US had every intention of going, but the task itself was simply too difficult. Thankfully, existing trick camera technology, as evidenced in science fiction movies of the time, made the hoax appear entirely believable (to a gullible public).

The last straw for me was around 2010, when I read one of Buzz Aldrin's accounts of the moon landing in "The Week"[0], and I thought, "wait a minute, I've heard that story before", and sure enough, went and found approximately the exact same story of the "last-minute, running out of fuel, manual take-over moon landing" in a novel by Heinlein called "Rocket Ship Galileo"[1]. I would encourage anyone interested to compare the landing story told by Aldrin with the landing story told by Heinlein and judge for themselves whether or not the official story is what actually happened in reality[2], and not just a really great (and wonderfully written, I might add) piece of sci-fi.

[0] https://theweek.com/articles/503621/last-word-eagle-landedba... [1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_Ship_Galileo [2] I also believe in an objective reality, where things either did or did not happen.

I don't agree with comments which assert that proper, well-sourced, sober information can't change minds among people seeking videos about fringe topics.

I also think that Wikipedia is a great resource for exactly this use case, especially where a small number of easily observable facts can overturn the thrust of the disinformation (think flat earth or anti-vax).

However, in some cases, it might not be as good a resource for this purpose. For example, here's the opening sentence in the article about Lee Harvey Oswald:

> Lee Harvey Oswald (October 18, 1939 – November 24, 1963) was an American former Marine and Marxist who assassinated United States President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963.

Of course Oswald enjoyed no trial, and the evidence against him is very flimsy. I (and I think many Americans who've studied the topic) don't think there's enough evidence against him to make such a brash declaration.

So, in this case (and I suspect, some others), Wikipedia serves to add bias rather than subtract it. I think that a sober, reasonable article on Oswald will offer a more nuanced and more factually-driven article.

I think it's especially important in these politically acrimonious times to investigate the Kennedy assassination, and the obvious conclusion from the evidence is that actors within our government executed a chief executive. Let's not misdirect people of a younger generation who try to study this topic.

Other articles on Wikipedia concerning the assassination go quite heavily into the conspiracy theory side (and there are dozens of them). I'd find it odd for someone to only read the Lee Harvey Oswald article lead and make their conclusions off of that.

Google will clearly be able to influence bias depending on what article they link to.

Yeah, the point in your first paragraph is part of what I was trying to point out. Even within Wikipedia, there is odd inconsistency regarding this topic.

> Google will clearly be able to influence bias depending on what article they link to.

...and yeah, that's really the thing. How do you decide to which article to link given a particular topic or meta-topic? It's a tough challenge.

Point well made. Wikipedia is very persuasive. In fact the wiki on Oswald basically makes you look like a fringe conspiracy theorist.

Heh. Well done. :-)

Adding a Wikipedia box won't make Alex Jones viewers changr their mind about gay frogs, and could play into his victim complex. If they want to get serious, change the algorithm so it won't reward people like jones. That's the problem. You watch one dumb video, let it autoplay more, and next you know you're in a rabbithole of crazy. One night i fell asleep watching a vegetarian cooking show, i wake up and youtubes recommending some raw food nutcase telling me why cooked food is poison and how vaccines cause autism (true story)

The algorithm will never be tuned for content, only tuned for stickiness and ad revenue.

Ironically, the Wikipedia link related to "cooked food is poison" might actually support it.


I don't see that as the case:

> This article may present fringe theories, without giving appropriate weight to the mainstream view, and explaining the responses to the fringe theories

> A major contributor to this article appears to have a close connection with its subject. It may require cleanup to comply with Wikipedia's content policies, particularly neutral point of view.

If there is never any reason to not believe the official narrative on every event then why not just censor any evidence to the contrary? This seems to be the direction we are going.

There's a bit of doublethink here though. Does propaganda work? Well of course it doesn't because the truth will always come out because the news wants viewers and thus the official story is never propaganda! But, wait.. These conspiracy theory videos made by some random dude in his bedroom are convincing some people of things that are apparently not true! How did they do that if propaganda doesn't work? Explanations about Russian troll bots with magical mystery deception tactics and various handwaving ensues...

So does propaganda work? If not then we don't have to worry about fake news. If it does, then how do we know the real news isn't propaganda? What empowers propaganda more than anything? Lack of criticism.

There is a serious blind spot most people have, or at least publicly act like they have to avoid ostracism, when it comes to challenging the mainstream narrative. Thank you for pointing it out directly. Everyone else is dancing around the gorilla in the room.

This is about adding wiki info, not censoring videos.

Won't this just take the battleground about what is "fact" or not to Wikipedia?

If someone was trying to discredit say, Obama, and saw "Barrack Obama was born in the United States - according to Wikipedia" surely they'd rush there and try to sneak conspiracy theories past the moderators.

So what happens then, Wiki has to lock down more and more pages, or effectively only allow approved edits to topics people are trying to shill over.

That happens, and it's no longer the crowd-sourced/accepted truth, it's Wikipedia moderators truth.

When pages are locked, they're not limited to only admins (who I'm assuming you are referring to by "moderators"; otherwise, any user can undo an edit, and it doesn't require an account). There are several levels of page protection: [0]

* Pending changes protection: Anyone can edit, but edits must first be reviewed before becoming visible. Autoconfirmed [1] users have their edits go through right away, while other edits have to be approved by a pending changes reviewer. The criteria for reviewing edits basically boils down to "anything that is not vandalism" is reviewed and then it's treated like a normal edit that can be contested by other users. In effect it reduces the incentive to vandalize or make disruptive edits because they won't even be visible.

* Semi-protection: Only autoconfirmed users can edit. See [1]. This is used for pages where a large proportion of the edits are vandalism rather than helpful edits. 99% of vandalism stops here because most vandals are too lazy to get autoconfirmed or don't know how, since their goal isn't really to be productive.

* Extended confirmed protection: This is a fairly new option and requires an account 30 days old and with at least 500 edits. This is mainly used for pages under sanctions (namely the Israeli-Arab conflict), and in certain cases where autoconfirmed users are causing abuse.

* Full protection: Very rarely used. Mainly used in instances where multiples experienced editors are editing disruptively on a page such as by edit warring. The protection is always very short because it otherwise blocks editing from all users. In most cases though, the editors themselves are usually blocked or warned instead of a page necessitating full protection.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Protection_policy [1]: Account must be four days old and have made at least 10 edits, so not hard at all to obtain

> Won't this just take the battleground about what is "fact" or not to Wikipedia?

Wikipedia isn't ad-driven. That reduces its incentive to be addictive by any means necessary. It's also been arbitering truth fairly effectively for many years.

Nutjobs already constantly try to edit Wikipedia. Moderators revert those changes.

They can't really win.

If you try to squash conspiracy theories like this there will be those free-speech hardliners who see it as crossing a line.

If you allow the crazy conspiracy stuff then there will be people who complain about the platform being a toxic influence and promoting hate speech etc.

Personally I don't see anything wrong with attaching additional information like this as opposed to outright censorship or something. But my guess is that plenty of other people will complain.

Side note: I can't help but notice how polarizing issues involving free speech have become in recent years. Any topics involving perceived censorship by any host simply ignite.

You don't get "free speech" on Youtube. Its not a government censoring you. Its a private company doing whatever they want on their private website. Same with Facebook, Twitter, etc. The only public spaces online are decentralized ones, and even then you are subject to nodes actually accepting your peerage. If every Mastodon instance deems yours toxic and blocks it you can't cry fowl of censorship to anyone.

> You don't get "free speech" on Youtube. Its not a government censoring you. Its a private company doing whatever they want on their private website.

Oh, I agree. But this topic keeps coming up over and over recently.

It seems like people forget that by moving everything into the homes of Google and Facebook they agreed to these terms. You can still host content yourself. If you want free speech, do that.

I'm not sure how Google qualifies as a private company, but I would like to play devils advocate. Tell me how I can refuse to bake a cake for someone because their personal views differ from mine. I dare you.

I'm not sure how Google qualifies as a private company

It qualifies as a private company because it is, as a matter of law, a private company.

Tell me how I can refuse to bake a cake for someone because their personal views differ from mine. I dare you.

Assuming, based on your choice of example, that you're talking about the US legal context: You absolutely can refuse someone's business because of their beliefs. What you can't do is refuse someone's business because of their race, or their age, or one of small number of other protected characteristics.

> Tell me how I can refuse to bake a cake for someone because their personal views differ from mine.

I think you should be able to. But I also think that people can boycott you for doing so.

s/conspiracies/conspiracy theories

Beyond the other (valid) points here, will YouTube be providing some kind of funding or support to the Wikimedia Foundation?

This trend of attempting to outsource the faculty of skepticism is stupendously dangerous.

Agreed. It would be great if as a society we could start encouraging people to exercise proper critical thinking instead.

Linking to extensive Wikipedia articles with dozens of sources is encouraging people to think critically.

Now is as good a time as any to mention that I’ve been running a channel that I am moving from YouTube onto my soverign origin RasPi with some fancy scripts, and I’ve been doing daily 720p livestreams using it as the origin with CloudFlare CDN and syndicating out to 1-4 other services (YT, Twitch, FB, Periscope dep. on message). Github my username, tinydatacenter project.

Filling a void that I saw growing—we need open source systems on the level of the big guys; this is that. I am a disgruntled American being pushed out of jobs in SF and feel I am being censored on at least one platform and feel my service family member rolling in their graves recently.

Google makes billions while the Wikipedia contributors providing their fact checks and knowledge graph data get nothing.


This is what wikipedia has always intended and promoted. They specifically license their data to allow this for exactly this reason.

Isn't that the point? Wikipedia is specifically licensed to allow such usage.

That’s OK. Google is about to send Wikipedia a bunch of newly informed editors.

If these were Hollywood produced films from Hollywood artists, there would be talk of defacement, interfering with the integrity of the work, etc...

Yeah, but they aren't Hollywood produced films, they're low-budget, low barrier to produce conspiracy videos. If Hollywood starts making videos about how chemtrails are turning your kids gay, then that will be a valid comparison. But the reason Hollywood gets to talk about artistic integrity is because they actually have some.

BS about chemtrails regardless, modern chemistry has given us lots of estrogenic substances in our food and bodies. And maybe not homosexuality, which may be mostly genetic. But maybe reduced sperm counts?

The studies mentioned here suggest nicotine, stress, and plastics may be to blame: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/16/health/male-sperm-count-p...

Estrogenic substances such as atrazine have been correlated with lower sperm count in agricultural workers (e.g. https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/04/0427_050427...) but I don't know of a study showing the effects through the food distribution chain, only ones on field workers.

> ... and plastics ...

The issue with plastics is mostly about plasticizers. Maybe in some cases, monomers. And plastics are ubiquitous in food packaging. Even steel cans are generally coated with plastic, rather than tin.

Soy products.

The responses to your false equivalency weren’t particularly helpful so I’ll jump in.

The relationship between movie studios and theaters is vastly different from that of YouTube and its content creators:

1. Theaters desperately want the content that studios create, so they buy it on the studio’s (distro company’s) terms.

2. Content creators on YT, however, have no power over YouTube. They desperately want viewers AND money for their content. YouTube offers both, albeit on their own, unilateral terms.

What about Bollywood artists? How about Nigerian movie producers? Is it just Hollywood? How deep does this rabbit-hole go?!?

> is an imperfect source of information, one which most college students are still forbidden from citing in their papers.

Is that honestly the measure of how perfect a source of information is?

No, and the quote from the article is a horrible meme that makes absolutely no sense.

Of course people can’t source Wikipedia, they are meant to source the SOURCE articles! That’s like the entire point.

You can't source encyclopedia brittanica either. Wikipedia isn't banned because it's a wiki, it's banned because it's an encyclopedia.

But apparently the people who write these articles have never actually been to school, so they think that wikipedia not being allowed as a source for college papers is somehow a significant indictment.

Everyone knows you just quote the source listed in the wikipedia article instead of the wikipedia article itself.

To me, they should use Wikipedia as an example of the necessity to use sources when teaching about bibliographies in school. The reason I trust wikipedia, is because it's properly referenced. And in some cases, if it's not, it'll even let me know.

Wikipedia is a fantastic tool to find direct sources.

Wonder if contemporary college/University professors accept Wikeaks as a valid source.

Youtube already takes down anything they dislike. Definitions such as "hate speech" include literally all possible speech that is critical of anything, at any degree.

Their preferred weapon though is de-ranking. This is the American model of censorship, and it really does work. Why bother going after people who speak up, when instead you can make sure nobody can hear them? You think the video is up, you can share it with your close friends, but nobody else will discover it. It's also super convenient for them because they move the majority of content in coldline storage almost right away. It's not just Youtube either, it's Google, Facebook, Twitter and all their subsidiaries. We need a massive change in the way the internet is structured, both technically and legally, if we want the open web back.

> Youtube already takes down anything they dislike.

These are the funniest comments on HN. There seems to be a huge group of people that are more willing to believe that YouTube will push a narrative vs believing YouTube just wants to earn more profit.

If you make a video that people want to watch the algorithm will love you. It determines this by watch time and session time. If you make a video that people click away from, especially if it ends their watch session, the algorithm hates you. Remember, you have to compete against over 300 hours of content being uploaded every minute.

This is how every social platform works. It’s a function of content volume.

If they took down every video they didn’t like PewDiePie wouldn’t be the top channel, literally making fun of the platform almost every weekday. But most people on HN haven’t actually bothered watching him, I’d hazard to guess!

This is just stacking one bias on top of another. Wikipedia is not a credible source of information, especially when it comes to topics like politics or conspiracies, and refering to it selectively is a clear statement on its own.

IMHO it would be much more productive to tell people to be extremely sceptical towards everything they see on the internet. YouTube is very capable of launching a successful campaign to do that. I'm sure a lot of creators would jump on board, and, seeing what's most likely to go viral these days, it seems necessary. This is obviously in direct conflict with the business model of platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, since they rely on ad ravenue, so we're stuck with orwellian solutions like the one presented.

I don’t think that teaching people to be skeptical would align with the business model of the world’s largest advertisement company.

it does when it promotes YouTube from the status of "very unreliable source of information" to "fair source of source of information"

I'm not sure how I feel about this. Correcting obvious falsehoods seems fine, but something about a platform moving from being (_vaguely_) neutral to directly critiquing content feels off. Further, where do you draw the line? Correcting things that are unequivocally, proven wrong casts a small net, but adding information to loose speculation, or discuss of events that are denied but not disproven, risks making a stronger statement than the evidence allows and risks shutting down legitimate discussion.

Pretty sure everything we are talking about is unequivocally proven wrong. That’s the point.

A major global platform announces it will link out-of-platform to a community edited resource. That should be seen as major win to the open web and pretty much everyone else. But somehow YouTube manages to frame it in a way that no one feels comfortable about it.

It's all a conspiracy. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cats_and_the_Internet

I can safely estimate that my daily life and my work have me deeper in the YouTube community than the average HN poster, and I say this is GOOD.

YouTube isn’t censoring here, just making sure that the most despicable users cannot lead astray the most vulnerable minds without at least a warning label.

If you think that warning label is too influential you should consider the influence of well paid, highly watched liars on YouTube.

I've thought about doing something similar before, but wikipedia is oriented toward summary, not to convince people who are dubious of some "mainstream" truth.

If you want to, say, convince someone that is watching Holocaust denial videos that it did happen, I'd actually dig into some past reddit or forum discussions. Some people have gotten rather experienced at refuting this kind of thing sussinctly, and you may as well borrow from them.

I think this is an experiment. And given the current state of the internet in regards to fact checking, it's commendable that they are trying something to help address the issue. Maybe it won't work, if so, nothing lost.

I wonder if it will have any noticeable effect on Wikipedia though. By linking all of the conspiracy theorists to it, they might find that the articles get more contraversial editing going on.

The audacity of YouTube to go after conspiracy theories while actively engaged in a conspiracy:


Much ado about nothing. You could say a waste of time is worth a waste of time.

I don’t think there’s anything to fix here, when the real problem is adults with the power to vote, can have their votes swayed by Saturday morning cartoons, because all they ever look at are Saturday morning cartoons.

Check out https://play.cash/

There are popups in between song videos giving you trivia about the album/band/song etc. Lot of fun if you care about such stuff.

I honestly don’t believe the way to discern the truth is by referencing a site that is written by volunteers, has no system for identifying and rating contributors, no way for the other side to express their view or refute what was said. This guy from Forbes wrote much more eloquently about what I’m trying to say whe he tried to fact check the fact checkers at Snopes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/kalevleetaru/2016/12/22/the-dai...

It's good. Let's make sure the following conspiracy theories and extreme views are highlighted:

Anything about men's rights, "rape culture", white "oppression", "72 genders", marxism, neoliberalism, fascism, Antifa, conservatism, libertarianism, white nationalist, black nationalism, "Irish" nationalism, hindutva, islamophobia, islamophilia, Catholic church paedophilia, pizza gate, Russia collusion, 9/11 was an inside job, 9/11 was by Al Qaeda, George Soros, Koch brothers, uranium one, Castro Trudeau, PewDiePie, Alex Jones, Rachel Maddow, Sean hannity, morning Joe, ... Just to begin with.

It would be nice if the list of conspiracies and extremist views was a open source list so that we get an honorable and democratic process of deciding it as a people and community. I am sure we as good human beings will be able to peacefully maintain such a list. I wouldn't mind the great overlords of YouTube to maintain such a list either.

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