YouTube recommendation of misinformation below 1%: Top official

Questionable content refers to content that comes close to but does not cross the line of violating YouTube's policies.

New Delhi: Under the scanner for its recommendation algorithms, a top YouTube executive on Friday said consumption of questionable content or harmful misinformation videos that comes from its recommendations is significantly below one per cent of content available on the platform.

Questionable content refers to content that comes close to but does not cross the line of violating YouTube’s policies.

“We’re constantly working to reduce this even further,” Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer, YouTube and Senior Vice President, Google, told reporters in a virtual media roundtable.

This work has focused on four pillars — removing violative content, raising authoritative content, reducing the spread of questionable content and rewarding trusted creators – the 4Rs of responsibility, he said.

YouTube removed over 820,000 videos in India alone in the quarter ending March this year.

The comments come amid criticisms linked to spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories – even those related to Covid-19 pandemic.

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The YouTube Chief Product Officer said the company is taking a look at everything it does through the “responsibility lens”.

“We’ve spent the last few years investing in systems to tackle the challenges we face. Over the past years, we’ve been working hard to invest in the policies, resources and products needed to protect the YouTube community”

Mohan noted.

“The vast majority of content on YouTube is not harmful. This harmful content is a tiny part of what’s on YouTube — a fraction of 1 per cent,” he said.

YouTube last year introduced over 30 different changes to reduce recommendations of questionable content and harmful misinformation, including climate change misinformation and other types of conspiracy videos.

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YouTube said it updated its policies barring hate and harassment from removing any content that violates these policies quickly.

“We also updated our policies to remove egregious medical misinformation about COVID. We’re consulting with global and local health authorities as we develop these policies and we’ve been updating them on an ongoing basis to stay current with the science -10 updates in the past two months alone”

Mohan said.

These changes prohibit things like saying the virus is a hoax or promoting medically unsubstantiated cures in place of seeking treatment.

“We’ve removed thousands of videos under these policies,” Mohan added.

He informed that today, more than 2,500 creators in India had crossed the million subscriber threshold — up from only two creators with one million subscribers just five years ago.

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