A study published by the activist group Avaaz claimed that climate misinformation was being founded by some of the biggest companies in the world through advertisements on video sharing social media platform YouTube.
Climate misinformation was actively being promoted by over 100 brands through advertisements running on YouTube videos on the site, the group found. The reports identified the brands to be Samsung, L’Oreal and Decathlon, among others, and claimed that the brands themselves were unaware that their advertisements were being run before and during the videos.
“This is not about free speech, this is about the free advertising YouTube is giving to factually inaccurate videos that risk confusing people about one of the biggest crises of our time,” said Julie Deruy, a senior campaigner at the group. “YouTube should not feature, suggest, promote, advertise or lead users to misinformation.”
The videos that were suggested for viewers of YouTube when they searched for “global warming”, “climate change”, or “climate manipulation” on the site were closely examined by the Avaaz for the report. The study paid special attention to those videos that were accorded high prominence by the recommendation algorithms of YouTube. The study found misinformation about climate change was present in the content of 16 of the top 100 videos on the first term, the study found. it also found that similar misinformation was present in eight of the videos found under “climate change” and 21 of those under “climate manipulation”.
“YouTube has previously taken welcome steps to protect its users from anti-vaccine and conspiracy theories,” Avaaz argued, “but has not acted with equal force against broader misinformation and disinformation content, including climate misinformation.”
YouTube should create and implement new policies to that such spread of climate misinformation on its platform was prevented, demanded the group.
It suggested that the “borderline content” policy of YouTube should include climate misinformation. Under this policy, distribution of such videos are done, via its algorithm, that do not reach the bar that the company has set for such videos to be removed from the site completely.
YouTube should also demonetise misinformation, “ensuring such content does not include advertising and is not financially incentivised. YouTube should start immediately with the option for advertisers to exclude their ads from videos with climate misinformation,” the group suggested.
There were transparency issues in the report by Avaaz,m YouTube said in a statement.
“We can’t speak to Avaaz’s methodology or results, and our recommendations systems are not designed to filter or demote videos or channels based on specific perspectives. YouTube has strict ad policies that govern where ads are allowed to appear and we give advertisers tools to opt out of content that doesn’t align with their brand. We’ve also significantly invested in reducing recommendations of borderline content and harmful misinformation, and raising up authoritative voices on YouTube,” the social media company said.
“The information promoted by these videos is in direct contradiction with L’Oréal’s commitments and the work we have been carrying out for many years to protect the environment. We are collaborating with YouTube teams asking them to use all the technological means at their disposal to better inform the platform’s users about the nature of these videos and to limit their impact,” a L’Oréal spokeswoman told the media referring to the new report.
(Adapted from TheGuardian.com)