Importance of Natural Resources

YouTube’s Climate Denial Problem


Hello. If you’re new around here. My name is miriam. I talk about climate change on the internet,
but mostly I talk about climate change, here, on YouTube. I’m mad about a lot of things, like all
the time, not the least of which is climate change. But pretty high up there is this. This is just an example of one of many videos
that pop next to mine in the ‘recommended’ tab or that almost always visually upsetting
grid – thumbnail thing at the end of videos. I work pretty hard to make these videos as
factual as possible and like fun and interesting, hopefully. And it really blows to see this nonsense,
propaganda, and straight up lies popping up at the end of one of my videos. Sometimes it makes me question if this even
the right platform to be making this stuff. And in case you were curious, turns out I’m
not just paranoid – Avaaz, a non-profit looking to ‘protect democracies from the dangers
of disinformation on social media’ – who boy they’ve got an uphill battle – released
THIS REPORT. [singing ahhhh] You can read all this if you want but the
highlights are: Avaaz found 16 of the top 100** up next videos
for the search term ‘global warming’ had misinformation about climate change. For the search term ‘climate change,’
a little better, 8 of 100, and for ‘climate manipulation’ – which is a dog whistle if
I’ve ever heard one, 21 of 100. The methodology they is a bit confusing and
has some relevant critiques, which we can chat about in the comments, but the major
takeaway – there is a lot of climate misinformation that is being promoted – DESPITE YouTube’s
statements that they are suppressing misleading content. ‘Misinformation about climate change’
is a lot of syllables to basically say lies and propaganda. [counting syllables in misinformation about
climate change and lies and propaganda] Avaaz is perhaps a bit more tactful with their
wording in the report. But when you’re talking about things like:
“Nobel Laureate Smashes the Global Warming Hoax” a 30 minute long video with more than
1.7 millions views. Which includes such highlights as accusations
that NASA is ‘fiddling with data’ by including ocean temperatures, and actually there really
isn’t that much CO2 in the atmosphere anyway so let’s not worry about it… BLAHH These aren’t just accidental fact slip-ups. So I just want to call them out for what they
really are – willful and harmful misleading propaganda oftentimes motivated by economic
and political gain. Yes that is more syllables than climate misinformation. There are two reasons this is bad. One – many of the videos Avaaz highlighted
have been viewed A LOT of times. That is a bunch of people being lied to. Aside from being morally bad, we should be
telling the truth about what is happening to the world so more people have the understanding
and tools to respond in the way they see fit. Two – the people spreading misinformation
and YouTube are all making money lying to people. I don’t really know the best way to explain
how bad that is beyond like – Capitalism sucks. Support the good guys? But – there is something a bit evil going
on when spreading outright harmful lies makes you money. This is one of the main avenues Avaaz suggests
at combating this from the outside. For YouTube and these creators to make money
off of climate misinformation, an advertiser is paying for it. Whether the companies just don’t realize
or don’t care about the kind of content their ads are playing against doesn’t really
matter. What does matter, and we’ve seen effective
in previous campaigns, is if the public calls them out for advertising on unsavory stuff. So if say you wanted to publicly let some
companies know that their funding climate denial Avaaz made a nice little for you. That I will present here as well. Do with it as you will. YouTube has said they’ve tried to fix some
of these issues. They’re supposedly repressing harmful content,
and they’ve added the info box down there. And, anecdotally – I have seen it get a bit
better. I’m not noticing quite so many pragerU or
fossil fuel propaganda videos in my recommendations or searches as I used to. That being said – I’m not sure how much
of it is changes YouTube made or just more people making and watching videos about climate
change or something else. If anyone has good data on either of those
I would love to talk to you. Teal deer: This report is pretty bad news
bears. And comes on the heels of a bunch of other
reports investigating how the YouTube platform is an incubator for some seriously scary stuff. Avaaz does make quite a few recommendations
for YouTube on how to solve this. They want YouTube to “Detox their Algorithm”
by removing any climate misinformation videos from their recommendation algorithms and include
climate misinformation in YouTube’s “Borderline Content Policy.” Um, if you don’t speak weird YouTube jargon
– ‘borderline content’ is supposedly content that while not great, isn’t quite bad enough
to be removed because it doesn’t violate YouTube’s terms of service. Along with that, Avaaz says YouTube should
demonetize climate misinformation videos. Basically don’t put ads on them. And while on paper, those sound not unreasonable
– to me those recommendations feel a bit naive. Even if YouTube wanted to do something, I’m
not sure how they would. There are a lot of videos on YouTube and a
lot bad ones, and frankly I don’t trust the YouTube overlords, or more accurately,
programs they write to recognize misinformation to know enough about climate science to recognize
anything but the most blatant cases of anti-science propaganda. We’re just starting to see many new and
good creators talking about their experiences in a climate changed world and I don’t want
another adpolypse to crush that wave. Avaaz also says YouTube should attempt to
correct the record and work with independent fact checkers to inform users when they’re
being lied to. I think that might be a way to make the box
thats down there a little bit less useless – although there is a lot of research showing
debunking isn’t really an effective strategy unfortunately. Reports like these really affirm to me how
bad living in an advertisement supported world is. Ads are just so bad. But I guess that’s a topic for another video. There is still a lot of good stuff out there. And unfortunately what I’ve seen with everyone
talking about this report from Avaaz is that YouTube is just a cesspool full of garbage,
which don’t get me wrong, it totally is. But, I swear, there’s a lot of stuff that
I love to watch. So I’m going to leave links in the doobly
doo below to climate change and environmentally thoughtful channels that will not mislead
you on the science or the responses. Thanks for watching. Let’s chat downstairs.


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