YouTube will add information from Wikipedia to videos about conspiracies

YouTube will add information from Wikipedia to videos about popular conspiracy theories to provide alternative viewpoints on controversial subjects, its CEO said today. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that these text boxes, which the company is calling “information cues,” would begin appearing on conspiracy-related videos within the next couple of weeks.

Wojcicki, who spoke Tuesday evening at a panel at the South by Southwest Interactive festival in Austin, showed examples of information cues for videos about the moon landing and chemtrails. “When there are videos that are focused around something that’s a conspiracy — and we’re using a list of well-known internet conspiracies from Wikipedia — then we will show a companion unit of information from Wikipedia showing that here is information about the event,” Wojcicki said.

The move comes after a year in which YouTube has been pilloried for hosting extremist content and driving more attention to it through algorithmic recommendations that critics say are designed to push viewers to extremes.

The information cues that Wojcicki demonstrated appeared directly below the video as a short block of text, with a link to Wikipedia for more information. Wikipedia — a crowdsourced encyclopedia written by volunteers — is an imperfect source of information, one which most college students are still forbidden from citing in their papers. But it generally provides a more neutral, empirical approach to understanding conspiracies than the more sensationalist videos that appear on YouTube.

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.


It sounds like a big waste of time to me.

Chemtrails aren’t "controversial", and anyone that believes in them is just going to see this as more proof the government is working with big corporations to hide the "truth".

I’m inclined to agree that people actively seeking out videos detailing chemtrails may not be swayed by, or even want to read, content from wikipedia but the "extensible", whatever that means, part is interesting. Let’s say it passes the tinfoil hat pilot phase and you could then link to sports journalism analysing a fight on an hbo boxing rerun for example. Or printable images of a dog clutch’s parts below an instructional video on how to repair your dishwasher.

This is what they should have done, make it available to all videos. The thing is this would deter people from staying on YouTube because inevitably you’d get people clicking on to Wikipedia. Which would not be beneficial to YouTube.

And then you start thinking why in the world they thought of adding this contextual information to conspiracy videos and not all videos: YouTube is just virtue signalling

Virtue signaling definitely exists in silicon valley, but I see this as damage control. They are a public company trying to keep their young liberal fanbase from turning on them.

This is basically YouTube’s way of saying "teach the controversy".


cue The X Files theme

Well, there goes the Internet

Deplatform them. Anyone spreading blatant lies should not be on YouTube.

Note: I said BLATANT.

you are just a victim of the global manipulators and can’t see the blatant for the indoctrination!

Freedom of speech, my mate.

it’s not freedom of speech, my dude.

Yeah, guys like Copernicus and Einstein (dude didn’t even finish school!) should be blocked from voicing their views!

Don’t you know that the consensus position is always the right one? I mean, if we exclude all the times the majority view was wrong (slavery, Newtonian physics, pre-Darwinian biology, the divine right of kings, etc.) then the consensus position has never been incorrect in the entire history of mankind.

It is. I’d rather live in a world with conspiracy theorists spreading lies than a world which is on the verge to censor unaccepted opinions by people who cannot draw the line between conspiracy theory and unwanted opinion. Can you draw the line? No you can’t. Can you control the government / company once it starts censoring information? No you can’t.

Look at China, my dude.

Come on man, we don’t want all the gender wage-gap videos to just vanish. I like putting wikipedia articles next to them a lot better.

I’m sure the Wikipedia community will be thrilled at the influx of conspiracy theorists to their publicly edited site.

Well, maybe they can finally get around to adding all that gun control content to the AR-15 page.

Why? It’s not like anyone who actually believes in a conspiracy is going to trust Wikipedia.

Just to add some visual cognitive dissonance in their lives, that’s all.

Because people who aren’t already convinced can be swayed by a well-made video? Humans are influencible, so why not add a more neutral influence.

While this may not affect any die-hard conspiracy theorists, this seems like a good move for someone that is stumbling onto a theory for the first time.

The thing is, there wouldn’t be any conspiracy theories if first hand information regarding the subjects was freely available (i.e. flat earth, fake moon – wait until space travel is accessible). Conspiracy theories exists because there is enough room (lack of information) for imagination (doubt). Aren’t most of them based on an agenda? If so, anything you do to hinder it would only reenforce that belief, wouldn’t it? (Don’t feed the trolls)

Google loves to lift content from Wikipedia (see "knowledge graph") as it essentially offloads authority and credibility to a 3rd party. Do they compensate Wikipedia org for this?

Why isn’t anyone shaming Google for "stealing" Wiki’s content to make money? This billion dollar company can’t contribute to the one good organization left on the internet? Without donors, Wiki will not exist.

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