Being a platform that values views more than veracity, YouTube has emerged as a potent tool of influence. With content ranging from seconds to hour-long videos, YouTube has altered the landscape of news consumption.
The freedom YouTube grants individuals to create channels allows space for misinformation and disinformation to capture audiences. Between May 2021 and February 2022, researchers analyzed 20,000 YouTube videos using keywords like "news" and "balita," and found that 124 of 3,453 channels were associated with state-owned People's Television Network and Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI), the latter being owned by indicted pastor Apollo Quiboloy.
These hyperpartisan channels mimic real news outlets with reporter voiceovers and overlays showing "news updates." After the 2020 ABS-CBN shutdown, the company completely migrated to YouTube to continue broadcasting its content, paving way for other channels too. And with multiple channels uploading similarly formatted videos, YouTube streams these into the same algorithms, consequently mixing misinformation with legitimate news.
Hyperpartisan channels fit a similar circle of the meta-partisan news ecosystem—the polarizing political environment channels want to create. These channels attempt to manufacture worlds online that easily undermine democratic discourse and manipulate the public.
Early this year, YouTube had 57.70 million users in the Philippines. With millions of Filipinos actively engaging online, it is imperative that policies are created to safeguard viewers from disinformation.
Fact-checkers globally underscore the need for YouTube to take action, with their lack of explicit policies to curtail the dissemination of disinformation. YouTube’s guidelines rely on users to flag content they may find offensive. While YouTube may remove flagged content and train their systems to detect similar videos, an individual’s offense may be another’s truth.
With hyperpartisan channels easily disguising themselves as news sources, YouTube can no longer remain passive in efforts to protect the integrity of news consumption online. There is a need for policies that integrate moderators to monitor and flag videos as reported by viewers, and impose stronger sanctions on violators, ensuring that the truth may always prevail in our
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