Accuracy in Media

CNN, a mainstream media network that has struggled with “fake news” controversies, recently published an article on how the social media giant YouTube struggled to combat fake news channels on its platform. The article discussed how YouTube promotes fake news channels instead of disabling or censoring them.

As background, YouTube is a video content social media network and relies on algorithms to recommended related videos to its users, based on its users’ viewing history. YouTube is owned by Google, which is a search engine giant and also has interests in other technology sectors, such as self-driving cars.

CNN’s headline on the subject was, “How fake accounts pushing inflammatory content went viral — with the help of YouTube’s algorithms,” and the article focused on how YouTube’s algorithms are to blame for the spread of fake news on its platform. The article’s findings were based on an analysis conducted by Plasticity, a start-up firm specializing in artificial intelligence. 

Fake accounts have popped up on YouTube, with many of them doctoring images of CNN and Fox News videos to create controversy, spread inflammatory rhetoric, and become viral videos seen by many thousands or even millions of viewers. YouTube told CNN that it removed the offensive videos, which were allegedly part of a spam campaign designed to make money off advertisements.

CNN’s article on YouTube’s struggles was non-partisan and informative, which should be praised. However, it begs the question of why CNN was the sole mainstream media network to cover the report, but not ABC News, CBS News, NBC News, MSNBC, or Fox News.

YouTube is a significant social media platform among the younger demographic in America, if not the world, and Plasticity’s report should be amplified in the light of misinformation online campaigns by foreign governments. Other technology-related news, such as Facebook’s hearings before Congress, made headlines in all mainstream media networks, but substantive news like this mostly go ignored.

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