YouTube Didn’t Tell Wikipedia About Its Plans for Wikipedia

Megan Farokhmanesh, writing for The Verge last week:

At SXSW yesterday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that the platform would start adding information from Wikipedia to conspiracy-related videos within the next few weeks. “We will show a companion unit of information from Wikipedia showing that here is information about the event,” she said. The company is “using a list of well-known internet conspiracies from Wikipedia” to pull from. However, YouTube appears to have left one party in the dark: “We were not given advance notice of this announcement,” said the Wikimedia Foundation in a statement on Twitter.

According to Wikimedia, this partnership isn’t a formal one with either Wikimedia or Wikipedia. “We are always happy to see people, companies, and organizations recognize Wikipedia’s value as a repository of free knowledge,” the company said. YouTube doesn’t need to officially partner with Wikimedia to use information from Wikipedia, but it’s still a bemusing tactic to make such an announcement without any official word passed between the two.

It really was rather shitty of YouTube not to tell Wikipedia in advance. But what gets me about this whole story is this: if YouTube knows that these videos need these fact-check disclaimers, why are they serving these videos at all? The videos that are flagged by this algorithm shouldn’t be shown with fact-check disclaimers — they should be removed from YouTube.

The answer, of course, is money. YouTube’s executives know these videos are harmful but they want the money from the ads they show against them.

Saturday, 17 March 2018