Accuracy in Media


YouTube is receiving help from Wikipedia, among others, to help “combat scientific misinformation on its platform,” according to a story on BuzzFeed News.

Under “YouTube is Fighting Back Against Climate Misinformation” by Zahra Hirji, BuzzFeed News reports that YouTube “is now adding fact checks to videos that question climate change … as part of its ongoing effort to combat the rampant misinformation and conspiratorial fodder on its platform.”

The story is biased because it lauds the suppression or discrediting of views by YouTube because those views are championed by the right and rejected by the left.

The story includes a screenshot photo of a video from Prager University, the online college begun by conservative writer and talk show host Dennis Prager. On the screen is Richard Lindzen, Emeritus Professor of Atmospheric Sciences at MIT, and one of the most respected voices on climate change.

Across from him, it reads, “where we really stand on the issue of climate change.” Below it, to demonstrate the work YouTube and Wikipedia are doing together on this, it “added a blurb of text underneath some videos about climate change, which provided a scientifically accurate explainer,” BuzzFeed news reported.

What it provides is the start of the Wikipedia entry on global warming.

“Global warming, also referred to as climate change, is the observed century-scale rise in the average temperature of the Earth’s climate system and its related effects. Multiple lines of scientific evidence show that the climate system is warming,” it reads.

What it does not point out is that most of the dire predictions made by its adherents have not come true.

The feature, which YouTube announced in March, involves placing descriptions from Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Britannia “next to videos on topics that spur conspiracy theories, such as the moon landing and the Oklahoma City bombing,” BuzzFeed News reported.

This might be confusing to some people, said Anthony Leiserowitz, director of the Yale Program on Climate Change Communications, in an email to BuzzFeed News. “But that’s probably better than just accepting the denier video at face value.”

It also is “helping clarify” videos on Dulce Base, a supposed facility on the New Mexico-Colorado border said to be jointly operated by humans and aliens; Lilla Saltsjobadsavtalet, an agreement conspiracy theorists say was made among journalists in Sweden to slant their news to cause immigrants to be more positively received; the Kecksburg UFO incident, when residents from six states supposedly saw a fireball fall from the sky near Kecksburg, Pa., in 1965; and the MMR vaccine and reported side effects.

Tony Heller, who makes YouTube videos about the myth of climate change, and Craig Strazzeri, a spokesman for Prager U, took exception. Heller called the practice “putting propaganda at the bottom of all climate videos,” and Strazzeri said this “just another mistake in a long line of giant missteps that erodes America’s trust in Big Tech, much like what has already happened with the mainstream news media.”

But global warming skeptics are rightly treated the same as the craziest of the crazy conspiracy theorists, according to the academics interviewed for the story.

“’I welcome this change,’ said Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at a state school, Texas Tech, that depends on government climate research funding to operate. “Climate science is not an opinion because scientists agree it’s happening based on documented facts, she said. “’I appreciate that YouTube is taking their responsibility seriously to help people understand the difference.”

Michael Mann, who has falsely claimed to be a Nobel laureate as a result of his climate work, “linked YouTube’s new messaging to the warning label on a pack of cigarettes: ‘Warning – this video may or may not be promoting actual facts about climate change.’”

Jason Reifler, a political science teacher, regretted only that YouTube didn’t go further. “they could have chosen wording that’s stronger and gets more to what the real terms of debate are between the extremely well-supported consensus scientific video versus that much, much smaller proportion of skeptics,’” he said to BuzzFeed News.




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