YouTube on Monday announced that the watch-time of India’s ‘authoritative’ news sources has more than tripled over the past two years, which is a simple way of saying that more people in India are consuming news on the popular video sharing website now more than ever. It goes without saying then that YouTube now has a much bigger responsibility to ensure the authenticity – read, quality – of news that Indians are consuming on the platform.
One of the ways YouTube is doing that is by offering as much context as possible to help people make sound decisions. The platform has already started offering fact checks from eligible publishers in India in English and Hindi to combat fake news, and now it is letting users know if a news channel that they’re watching is funded by the government.
“If a channel is owned by a news publisher that is funded by a government, an information panel will surface that indicates that the publisher is “funded in whole or in part" or a “public broadcast service”, with a link to the publisher's Wikipedia page,” Tim Katz, Director, who is head of News Partnerships at YouTube said while announcing the new feature.
The goal essentially is to let users better understand the source of news content that they’re watching on YouTube. “This information panel will be displayed on the watch page of all the videos on its channel.”
YouTube says it is ‘prominently’ surfacing authoritative sources across the platform and adding more context to these sources should bring more transparency to the platform.
With the 2019 Lok Sabha elections now underway, efforts like these become more relevant – social media giants like Google and Facebook have been in the thick of things lately for allegedly not doing enough to verify content. The government of India has warned them of serious implications should any of these platforms be found directly or indirectly influencing the country’s electoral process by wrongful means.
Which is where comprehensive fact-checking mechanisms become important – YouTube has partnered with multiple third-party publishers like AFP to verify the facts in news videos. Broadly, the Google-owned video sharing platform says it has committed $25M to the news industry.