YouTube’s misinformation crisis was years in the making

One rule of thumb that I have about the coverage of large technology platforms is that, in general, you will not learn anything useful about a company when talking to its CEOs. Even when the CEO is sincere in his answers, which they often are, the platforms they execute have long ceased to be under his direct control. A great technology CEO these days looks more like a head of state: trying to push a large and ungovernable population towards progress through legislation and formulating speeches, while managing the chaos that the worst citizens invent every day.

so I'm grateful to the New York Times & Daisuke Wakabayashi today for delivering a profile of YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, in which we really learn something. We see how her status as head of division within the complex corporate structure of Alphabet protected her from some of the pressures her colleagues face on Facebook and Twitter. When they are summoned for the first time before Congress, Wojcicki is not invited. While her peers have to respond to shareholders, she can keep the financial performance of her platforms private. While the platforms run by their founders are the most critical, the platforms are their ideas after all, the status of Wojcicki as contracted has isolated it.

Of course, as YouTube's CEO, Wojcicki faces a huge amount of daily criticism. But the profile of Times shows how, during a large part of its mandate, this criticism has developed in directions that have little to do with the way in which misinformation or hate speech is disseminated. platform. In contrast, the main constituents of Wojcicki for most of the positions have been the big advertisers, which make YouTube a viable business; and the star creators, who fill the site with videos to sell that advertising. (According to the report, according to the report.) Wakabayashi writes:

One of the reasons why Ms. Wojcicki defies easy characterization is that her main function is still changing.Today, her job is to be something like The standards of an anarchic civilization before that, when YouTube began to grow as celebrity icons, she was a budding media mogul, but in whatever role YouTube has needed her to assume, Ms. Wojcicki has not lost sight of the skill he learned early on Google: how to keep advertisers happy.

Marc S. Pritchard, brand director of Procter & Gamble, who is responsible for one of the largest advertising budgets in the world. world, said that her company has had some difficult times with YouTube in recent years, and that Ms. Wojcicki has been a constant presence.

In this context, it is relatively easy to to see how YouTube went from the next generation of incipient cable television to the site described in Mark Bergen's article for Bloomberg this month: continually caught with open feet in the face of deadly viral "challenges", murderous live broadcasts, The conspiracy theorists and the white Nationalists catapulted themselves to the popularity of YouTube's own algorithms. It turns out that it does not matter if a platform is operated by its founder or an outsider: the logic of a platform is to grow as big as you can as fast as you can, and promise everyone that you will clean the results.

Like many of his colleagues who run platforms, Wojcicki is sincere, determined and an expert in the art of running a business. And yet, as I move away from the profile, I wonder if YouTube has yet to understand the challenge that lies ahead. In the depths of the story, the CEO recognizes that the biggest challenges of YouTube derive from the so-called "content limit", videos that come close to breaking the rules of the site without ignoring the line.

Ms. Wojcicki said that the third category, the so-called limit content, has been the most challenging. Earlier this year, the company announced that it was changing its algorithm to stop recommending material such as conspiracy videos that could become a gateway to the unpleasant.

From the United States, YouTube said it would employ human evaluators across the country to evaluate certain content. These judgments will help inform what the recommendation engine indicates. (Clearly, the algorithms need attention.) This week, they wrongly added information about the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 to images of the Notre Dame fire.) YouTube said it plans to introduce the change in 20 other countries this year, implementing evaluators in each market to understand the preferences of local users.

What I do not see here is an acknowledgment that the content limit is what YouTube encourages its users to produce . In a world of inventories of infinite videos, only the most original ideas stand out and, once again, in the ad, what stood out on YouTube is a video that surprises, attentive and offends.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg described this problem with admirable clarity in a blog post last year. He wrote:

Our research suggests that no matter where we draw the lines for what is allowed, as some of the content approaches that line, people will become more involved on average, even when they tell us that later they do not. make. I do not like the content.

This is a basic incentive problem that we can address by penalizing the limit content so that it has less distribution and participation. By making the distribution curve look like the graph below, where the distribution decreases as the content becomes more sensational, people have no incentive to create provocative content that is as close as possible to the line.

As a place where people approach the old schoolmates and talk with other moms in the area, Facebook is better positioned to survive in a world where the most polarizing content no longer appears in the news of the users YouTube, as an entertainment destination, is in a very different position. And so, although I am encouraged that YouTube aims to avoid the spread of content limit, it is difficult to exaggerate the degree to which the company trusts him today. Remember this chilling detail of the Bergen story:

A revealing moment occurred around the beginning of 2018, according to two people familiar with him. An employee decided to create a new "vertical" YouTube, a category that the company uses to group their mountain of video footage. This person compiled videos under an imaginary vertical for the "superior right", the political group freely linked to Trump. Based on the commitment, the hypothetical right-right category sat down with music, sports and games as the most popular channels on YouTube.

YouTube may finally deliver on its promises to de-radicalize. In recent months, the company has been under great pressure to do so. Countries around the world are enacting laws that require the company to monitor user charges more strictly, and even the Democratic House Speaker in the United States threatens to erode the safe harbor provision in federal law by which YouTube can operate in its current form.

And the pressures are not just legislative. On Wednesday, BuzzFeed reported that recently Google staff was alerted that an employee had been diagnosed with measles. YouTube took until February to dishonor the many popular videos that promote the idea that vaccines like the one that protects against measles cause harm. And while it's too much to blame for a national measles outbreak at the feet of Google, the case underscores the extent to which crises amplified on social networks will not discriminate when it comes to choosing their victims.

Democracy

New aggressive terrorist Legislators of the European Union approved legislation that requires platforms to quickly eliminate terrorist content, reports Colin Lecher. (In other Splinternet news, the EU also approved new regulations designed to promote competition between e-commerce platforms).

According to legislation, called Terrorist Content Regulation, companies could be fined up to 4 percent of revenues if they consistently do not eliminate terrorist content. The plan would apply to large companies such as Facebook and YouTube, but much of the debate focused on smaller platforms, as critics have accused that the plan represents an excessive burden for these companies.

The legislation passed by Parliament finally reversed some of the most controversial parts of the plan, such as the requirement to constantly monitor the uploads and filter the terrorist content. The approved plan also gives you more room to deal with a first removal order, providing the platforms 12 hours to remove the content.

Machine Learning identifies weapons in the Christchurch Attack video. We know, we tried

Joseph Cox used Amazon's Rekognition software (controversial!) To find weapons in the video of the Christchurch massacre and wondered if Facebook could not implement a similar technology to scale to detect live murders more effectively:

Obviously, this raw test is not supposed to be a complete solution that a technological giant would really deploy. But it still highlights that it is possible to detect weapons in live broadcasts. So, what is the problem that stops the rapid emergence and, if appropriate, the elimination of violence with live weapons through automated means?

Andrew Yang is the candidate for the end of the world

Russell Brandom has a cleverly written profile of Andrew Yang, a marginal presidential candidate who continues to say smart things about what automation is going to do in our world: [19659027] The sincerity of a politician is always in doubt, and Yang is more doubtful than most. This is his first campaign, his first adventure in electoral politics of any kind. Before 2017, I had no history of anti-capitalist activism. It is easy to paint him as a vanity candidate who is indulging in fashionable socialism to build his thinking leader credentials, as a more intelligent and more detail-oriented Howard Schultz. But when describing this collapse in person, Yang seems genuinely agitated and moved to do something – anything – to avoid collapse. If your campaign is doomed or absurd, it is simply because you did not know what else to do.

"That's literally what led me to run for the presidency," Yang says. "I thought to myself, realistically, my options are to see society separate or try to galvanize energy around meaningful solutions."

The Canadian group sue the government over the Google Sidewalk Laboratories

Google's effort to turn the Toronto seafront into a democracy laboratory has met with a new resistance from citizens: [19659031] Privacy advocates are concerned that the project will increase surveillance and outsource government responsibilities to a private corporation.

"Canada is not the rat of Google's laboratory," said the executive director of the association. and Attorney General MJ Bryant. "We can do better, it's worth fighting for our freedom in the face of illegal public surveillance."

How the extreme right is spread from the political point of view about the Notre Dame fire

Talia Levin examines how far-right figures have used social networks to promote unsupported theories that Notre Dame fire was initiated by anti-Western fanatics:

While the dumpster, the trafficking of racist conspiracies is an unfortunate but constant feature of social networks (the background noise of any developing event), the more traditional conservative media proved to be so susceptible to a Narrative of civilizational conflict. In "The News and Why It Matters," a video program and a podcast on TheBlaze.com, the Fox News pillar and current talk radio host Glenn Beck suggested the possibility of a cover-up by the French government. "If this was initiated by the Islamists, I do not think they will discover it, because I think it could set the whole country on fire," Beck told his hosts, adding that this was the "World Trade Center of France." "On Fox News, Tucker Carlson received far-right columnist Mark Steyn, who denounced France as" impious "and faced the" post-Christian "country." When Carlson nodded, frowning, Steyn counted. a story of adoration in the Basilica of Saint-Denis, which is now declared, "in a Muslim suburb", and affirmed that the reconstruction of Notre Dame, as promised by President Emmanuel Macron

The election of Ukraine is a battle of total misinformation

Nina Jankowicz analyzes the state of the information war in Ukraine, which continues to fight against Russia's disinformation campaigns in progress despite having blocked access to Russia's social networks and sites web:

Unlike Washington, which has received almost no official response to the use of Russian misinformation to influence the 2016 presidential election, Kiev has taken action. In 2017, Poroshenko banned the Russian search engine Yandex and the social media networks VKontakte and Odnoklassniki within Ukraine, a decision endorsed by the MIP. A year later, the government blocked another 192 websites that supposedly had pro-Russian sympathies, relying on the MIP's advice to compile the list. The prohibitions, in a certain sense, have served their purpose; officials say that the open misinformation originated in Russia has decreased. However, as Zolotukhin mentioned in his conversations with me, that does not mean that Moscow's objectives have not been met.

In response, Ukraine has been accused, both by allies and critics, of extending the limits of acceptable democratic behavior. "We received immediate comments from all our partners, saying:" Well, this is an attack on freedom of expression and attack on freedom of expression, "said Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, deputy prime minister of Ukraine for Euro-Atlantic and European integration. . "We had a hard time explaining to our partners … let's not forget that we are a country at war, we are losing people every two days, if not every day".

Elsewhere

Instagram memetics are being syndicated

Some of Instagram's top creators of Instagram are organizing with the hope that collective action will offer an effective response. Balance to the capricious nature of the platforms. A fascinating report by Taylor Lorenz:

Some things the IG Meme Union wants: a more open and transparent appeals process for account bans; a direct support line with Instagram, or a link dedicated to the meme community; and a better way to ensure that the original content is not monetized by another person. "Having a public and clear appeals process is a great thing," said Praindo. "People appeal now and are rejected, and they will not know why." (In a statement, an Instagram spokesperson said: "Every week we review millions of reports and there are times when we make mistakes." He also said that the company will soon launch an option to appeal the removal of publications.)

So far, The union's message has been well received by the broader community of memes. The account managers with millions of followers said that they support the group's efforts and that they would be in solidarity with them. "I think the union is a good thing. There should be something like this, "said Sonny5ideUp, a member with more than 1 million followers on Instagram." Jackson Weimer, writer of Meme Insider who also created several pages of successful Instagram memes, says he believes that the union is a "good idea" and a necessary way for Instagram to take the memers seriously. [19659046] Facebook confirms that he is working on an AI voice assistant for Portal and Oculus products

You must assume that this It was happening from the moment that Facebook announced a speaker at home.The company confirmed the news today after a news item from CNBC's Sal Rodriguez.

Facebook shareholders are getting tired of Zuckerberg but can not do anything about it. Michael Hiltzik looks at the proposals of the shareholders (condemned) to reduce the offer of Mark Zuckerberg authority on the platform:

"Facebook works essentially like a dictatorship", observes the statement of support for one of those proposals. "Shareholders can not call special meetings and have no right to act by written consent. A majority majority vote is required to amend certain bylaws. Our Board of Directors is locked into an obsolete governance structure that reduces the board's liability to shareholders. "

One of the four proposals would establish an independent president, instead of leaving the positions of president and CEO in the hands of Zuckerberg. Another would require a majority of the directors' votes, so they could not skate in their board positions solely on Zuckerberg's opinion. The third would require that all shares, whether Class A or Class B, have only one vote. A fourth call to the board to consider "strategic alternatives," including a separation from the company.

Pinterest The seal of social networks that can help demand IPO

Pinterest is losing its breath in the run-up to its IPO tries to convince people that it is not a social network:

] Pinterest calls itself a platform of "visual discovery" so that people can get ideas about different aspects of their lives, whether to heal a wardrobe, plan a vacation or a wedding or to furnish a new home. In a video for investors, Silbermann illustrates why Pinterest is unique. Describe social media platforms as a way to document the past and entertain; while Pinterest is a "utility" for future activities.

"The best of social networks makes you feel socially validated, while Pinterest, at best, makes you feel creative and empowered to act," says Silbermann.

Donations for Burned Black Churches surpass one million dollars after the fire of Notre Dame

Well, here's a good story about how good social networks can do: after the fire at Notre Dame Cathedral, journalist Yashar Ali asked his 395,000 Twitter followers to consider donating for a crowdfunding campaign. by three black churches in Louisiana that were recently destroyed by arson. In one day, the campaign was approaching $ 1.5 million in donations.

Releases

Twitter will launch an answer hiding function in June as part of its latest moderation drive

Should not I be able to hide it? A horrible response to your tweet so that your followers do not see it? Well, Twitter says you can do it in June. Or as I like to think about it, 17 Jack Dorsey podcasts from now on.

Jumprope video creator with instructions launches to YouTube YouTube

Josh Constine profiles a new social network created to make tutorials. It's an interesting attempt to ungroup YouTube:

Sick of pausing and rewinding YouTube tutorials to play that difficult part? Jumprope is a new social network of instruction that offers a powerful tool for the creation of video slide shows. Jumprope helps people create step-by-step guides for cooking, beauty, crafts, parenting and more, using voice loop GIFs in each phase. And creators can export their entire lesson to share on Instagram, YouTube or anywhere.

Prototypes of Instagram video co-watching

Sure, why not:

The next phase of social media is about being together and apart. . Instead of acting in a live broadcast or participating in a video chat, Instagram can allow you to relax and watch videos with a friend. Facebook already has a Watch Party for group co-viewing, and in November we reported that the Facebook Messenger code contains an unpublished feature of "Watch videos together". Now the Instagram code reveals a "co-watch content" function hidden within Instagram Direct Messaging.

The Washington Post Launches the WhatsApp Channel in Indian Elections

The Washington Post is experimenting with giving readers in India direct access to reporters through favorite messaging application:

The Chief of the New Delhi Office, Joanna Slater and Correspondent Niha Masih will take the people behind the scenes of their reports and share periodic updates on the election. Users who opt for the channel can also participate directly with Slater and Masih.

Takes

Mark Zuckerberg: The 100 Most Influential People of 2019

Sean Parker, the founding president and eventual critic of Facebook, writes a propaganda for his former CEO on the appointment of Zuckerberg in the list of Time .

Given the tensions between the company's idealistic belief in impartiality and "openness" and the realities of global management. Platform (public scrutiny, accusations of privacy abuses and government investigations), Mark will have to make difficult decisions. My hope is that he remains faithful to the ideals on which the company was founded, choosing to promote universal values ​​such as decency over sensationalism, intimacy over social status and human dignity over tribalism, or in Zuckspeak, simply: " goodness". [19659074] And finally …

Gou of Foxconn: The goddess of the sea tells me to run for the presidency of Taiwan

It is easy to be discouraged by the recent global decline of democracy. So here is a story about Foxconn's billionaire founder who is running for president of Taiwan for a perfect reason: the Chinese goddess of the sea, Mazu, told him:

"Today, Mazu told me that I should be inspired by it. for "Do good things for people who are suffering, to give hope to young people, to support peace across the Strait," Gou said, adding that the goddess had spoken to her recently in a dream: "I came to ask Mazu and she told me to introduce myself. "

I look forward to the presidential debates.

Talk to me

Send me advice, comments, questions and a doctor's note proving that you have been vaccinated against measles: casey @ theverge.com.

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