YouTube’s plans to use Wikipedia to help counter conspiracy videos garners surprise and scepticism

YouTube recently revealed plans to counter conspiracy theories videos on its website by using Wikipedia. Of course this idea generated surprise and skepticism from Wikipedia.

YouTube lately came under criticism for its role in disseminating false and extremist content, the site’s algorithms promoting hoaxes and conspiracy theories in the frenzied aftermath of breaking news events like mass shootings.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki then went on to unveil a new initiative that will pair videos founded on shaky premises with “information cues”, or text boxes that direct users to third-party sources like Wikipedia.

Surprised by this announcement, Wikimedia Foundation said in a statement that it had not entered a formal partnership with YouTube and was not given advance noticed of Ms Wojcicki’s talk.

Wikipedia put forward doubts that the platform – which relies on contributors adding and editing material in its vast online repository – was the ideal tool to help fix YouTube’s misinformation problem.

“I don’t think YouTube can rely on our irregularly updated *encyclopedia* to solve its ranking algorithm/hate speech issue”, a Wikipedia contributor named Phoebe Ayers wrote on Twitter.

The Tweet read,”…huh ok, seems fine. Hope they credit us appropriately. I don’t think YouTube can rely on our irregularly updated *encyclopedia* to solve its ranking algorithm/hate speech issue; ppl don’t read refs…..web 2.0 is weird, man. /goes back to working on Wikipedia articles.”
— Phoebe Ayers (@phoebe_ayers) March 14, 2018

“It’s not polite to treat Wikipedia like an endlessly renewable resource with infinite free labor”, she added.

Even Wikimedia Foundation’s executive director, Katherine Maher, went ahead showing her skepticism regarding the matter.

“And frankly, we don’t want you to blindly trust us. Sure, we’re mostly accurate – but not always! We want you to read @Wikipedia with a critical eye. Check citations! Edit and correct inaccurate information! You can’t do that in a simple search result.”
— Katherine Maher (@krmaher) March 14, 2018
 

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