Jan 14, 2020

YouTube is the next Big Tech company to get book treatment

Photo: Gregor Fischer/picture alliance via Getty Images

Silicon Valley giants like Facebook, Twitter and Uber have for some time been subjects of books, movies and long exposés—and now it's YouTube's turn, with a new book deal for Bloomberg journalist Mark Bergen's "Like, Comment, Subscribe."

Why it matters: “It’s a technical and cultural story that hasn’t been told in its entirety yet,” says Bergen when asked why he chose that particular star in Alphabet-Google’s constellation.

  • He adds that people are increasingly interested in understand the technologies that are deeply shaping their internet lives — making YouTube and its video recommendation algorithm prime subjects to dive into.
  • YouTube, like its peers, is wrestling with questions of free speech and governance of the internet.
  • YouTube is also a potential target of the growing antitrust probes into Big Tech, a topic Bergen says will be a "fun question" to explore through his reporting. (Though he adds he doesn't believe breaking YouTube off from Alphabet-Google would ever happen.)

The big picture: Bergen’s book is the latest in a long list of projects in the last year or so chronicling the tech industry’s bad behavior and reckoning with the dark side of its influence.

  • Others whose stories have become subjects of books include Uber, WeWork, Instagram, Tesla, and Facebook.
  • Bergen's book, which will be published by Viking, has no release date yet.

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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.

Alphabet lifts the hood on YouTube financials

Photo: Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Disclosing YouTube revenue separately for the first time, Alphabet said Monday that the Google-owned video site accounted for more than 10% of the company's $46.1 billion in revenue last quarter, and more than $15 billion for the year.

Why it matters: Everyone knew YouTube was a big business, but until now, we didn't know exactly how big.

YouTube faces criticism over climate misinformation

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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.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020