Jan 29, 2020

YouTube faces criticism over climate misinformation

Photo: Florian Gaertner/Getty Images

A report this month by the activist group Avaaz alleges YouTube is "driving millions of people to watch climate misinformation" daily.

What they found: One finding is that when users search for "global warming," 16% of the top 100 "related videos" in the "up next" feature had climate disinformation. Another is that major brands are often unaware that their ads run on these videos.

The big picture: Democratic Rep. Kathy Castor, who heads the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, this week urged Google to curb false climate information on YouTube. She called for steps including...

  • Removing climate "denial" and "disinformation" from YouTube's recommendation algorithm.
  • No longer allowing users to monetize videos that "promote harmful misinformation and falsehoods" about climate.

The other side: A YouTube spokesperson said the company has "significantly invested in reducing recommendations of borderline content and harmful misinformation, and raising up authoritative voices."

  • Their policies give advertisers the "tools to opt out of content that doesn’t align with their brand," the spokesperson added.

Go deeper: Big Tech goes green, but still can't escape climate pressure

Go deeper

Big Tech goes green, but still can't escape climate pressure

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Big Tech is getting greener — but that’s not keeping it out of climate advocates’ crosshairs.

The state of play: Even as major tech companies announce new green ambitions — and evince existing ones — they're facing heightened pressure to walk the walk when it comes to their products and clients.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020

YouTube adjusts line on political misinformation

Photo: Carsten Rehder/picture alliance via Getty Images

YouTube will bar videos that lie about the mechanics of an election, the company announced in a blog post Monday, but indicated it remains reluctant to crack down more broadly on deceptive political speech, as some critics have demanded.

Why it matters: YouTube's content policies — which are separate from the advertising policies Google outlined in the fall — do not ban political falsehoods at a time when tech platforms are under fire to limit misinformation about candidates and elections.

Al Gore launches voter drive to make climate fight an election priority

Former Vice President Al Gore during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Al Gore launched Tuesday a national voter registration campaign with the Climate Reality Action Fund to recruit younger voters to help make the fight against climate change a key issue of the 2020 election and beyond.

The big picture: President Trump has rolled back several Obama-era policies and regulations, including withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement — although he announced last month a commitment to plant 1 trillion trees. Gore said in a statement, "We are at a political tipping point, thanks in large part to Greta Thunberg and millions of other young people speaking truth to power." He's confident young people will be a "driving force for climate action this November."

Go deeper: Al Gore: The unintended consequence of Trump's climate change denial