(TargetLiberty.org) – Fact-checking sites and groups claim to fix the problem of misinformation and fake news by providing users with unbiased access to the facts. Yet, their determinations often seem to follow a subtle agenda — one that unfairly targets conservative voices and dismisses any content that challenges mainstream narratives surrounding COVID-19 and other hot-button issues. Now, a group of 80 debunking organizations is joining forces to take action against YouTube.
Groups Bully YouTube Over Controversial Viewpoints
Full Fact, a website that claims to run a team of independent fact-checkers who seek to root out “misinformation” and “falsehoods” on the internet, appears to be spearheading the effort to bully YouTube into censoring alternative views. The organization posted a copy of the collective letter in question to its website on January 12, 2022.
In it, Full Fact and its cohorts accuse YouTube of failing to take action on a long list of what it suggests are intentional disinformation campaigns. The letter claims the video platform actively allows itself to be weaponized for the purposes of harm, exploitation, and financial gain.
Explicit examples mentioned in the lengthy letter run the gamut, but touch on everything from content that encourages users to “boycott” vaccinations to videos that allegedly share bogus cures for cancer. Other examples accuse the platform of giving hate groups a political soapbox and inspiring the growth of science denial.
Full Fact later suggests undesirables are using YouTube to help spread “unsubstantiated” narratives about election fraud in a number of different countries — including the United States. It even connects such content to the January 6 Capitol Riots in 2021.
Notably, the group letter also directly accuses YouTube of unfairly attempting to argue it cannot moderate such content without totally deleting it. It suggests the platform should enact guidelines similar to those found on Facebook, which overlays “facts” on questionable posts.
What’s the Problem?
At face value, wanting to take action against disinformation seems like a noble goal. Who doesn’t want to help preserve the truth in the online sphere? The only problem is history proves that isn’t always what happens.
As PEW Research points out in its August 2020 poll, there have been multiple instances in which platforms appeared more interested in silencing specific political voices than ensuring the truthfulness of content. A whopping 90% of Republicans agreed.
Twitter repeatedly slapped a “misleading” warning on former Donald Trump’s posts during his time in office. Evidence later suggested the social media company engaged in a two-year-long campaign to censor the Conservative leader before banning him for life.
In April of 2021, YouTube deleted a March COVID-19 roundtable meeting among Governor Rick DeSantis (R-FL), Harvard University professor Dr. Martin Kulldorff, Stanford University fellow Dr. Scott W. Atlas and Stanford University professor Dr. Jay Bhattacharya. The group discussed the efficacy of children wearing face masks in school, which was apparently enough to satisfy the marker for “misinformation.”
YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter also have a lengthy history of deleting any content that even raises controversial opinions on vaccination. It doesn’t matter whether the people in the video are participating in a debate or just the healthy exchange of ideas; it still faces sanctions.
And therein lies the problem. Fact-checkers and platforms that overlay the “truth” over content wield an incredibly powerful weapon with the ability to silence or support ideas. But who, if anyone, fact-checks the fact-checkers — and what’s stopping them from following their own inherent bias in the first place?
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