Two of the world’s leading crowd-sourced platforms are teaming up to fight fake news

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  • YouTube will display links to Wikipedia articles alongside known conspiracy theory videos.
  • It’s unclear what other sources will be used to flag conspiratorial content.
  • Can this help in tackling the growing problem of fake news on YouTube?
Speaking at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in Texas, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company will soon start displaying Wikipedia articles alongside videos that have been flagged for conspiracy theories. For instance, videos calling the moon landing a fake will also come with the Wikipedia page for the actual moon landing.

These "information cues" will be displayed alongside content that has been flagged to be conspiratorial. It is unclear whether YouTube plans to make it a norm across the platform in the future.

What will it look like?

Google already refers to Wikipedia for search results on popular topics. Google Search places a Wikipedia widget next to search results, displaying quick-to-consume information from the platform. It’s unlikely that YouTube will follow the same design though, since the company already has a related videos carousel showing up next to its video player.

Alternatively, Google also shows a " fact check" tag on search results, which can perhaps be a pointer for how Wikipedia links will be displayed alongside videos.

Wikipedia to the rescue

It's unclear what other sources YouTube plans to add in the future, but what's perhaps clear is Wikipedia can't be enough. By its own admission, Wikipedia is a crowd-sourced encyclopedia. "Wikipedia is written collaboratively by largely anonymous volunteers who write without pay. Anyone with Internet access can write and make changes to Wikipedia articles, except in limited cases where editing is restricted to prevent disruption or vandalism. Users can contribute anonymously, under a pseudonym, or, if they choose to, with their real identity," the company says on its About page.

While Wikipedia is indeed a hugely popular website on the Internet, considering it a factual source can be dangerous. Here is Wikipedia's own page for hoaxes on...well...Wikipedia.

To its credit, Wikipedia actively tries to track hoaxes, but it also admits that "many hoaxes remain undiscovered". YouTube's effort though cannot be ignored here. While the company has used AI to monitor and remove extremist content, it had largely remained silent on how it manages to tackle the spread of misinformation on the platform.
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