YouTube appears to be positioning itself as more than a mere platform for posting and sharing videos.
Ahead of this year’s midterm elections, the tech giant — owned by Google — is changing the way users find news on the site. It has already spent $25 million to promote what it describes as “authoritative” news videos, according to a piece in Fortune.
Google’s own dictionary says “authoritative” means “able to be trusted as being accurate or true; reliable.” So while it seems YouTube is trying to put forth honest news, there’s reason to be concerned it may use this new initiative as a political weapon to promote liberal views and censor conservatives ones.
Facebook, of course, changed its algorithms earlier this year to promote sites it deemed “trustworthy” — and the end result was a boost in traffic to liberal websites and a steep decline for conservative sites. Back in March, The Western Journal concluded that left-leaning sites received a 2 percent bump in web traffic from Facebook because of its new algorithms — while conservative sites saw a 14 percent drop.
Although Facebook and Google are not owned by the same people, the Facebook algorithm changes are certainly worth noting, given past allegations that YouTube has played politics. Perhaps the most notable example of this would be its financial partnership with The Young Turks, a leftist news network headed by Cenk Uygur, who uses profanity on his channel and is not penalized for it. Earlier this year, TYT joined the YouTube TV network, allowing them to expand to a 24-hour operation.
On the other side, conservative creators have said for the past few years that they don’t believe YouTube treats them fairly. In October 2016, Prager University, headed by conservative Dennis Prager, announced on its Facebook page that YouTube had put 21 of its videos into “restricted mode” on the site just a few weeks prior to the presidential election, thus limiting the reach. On the same day, it noted that YouTube had not restricted content from left-leaning Vox, though it had videos with similar titles.
For instance, PragerU’s “Is America Racist?” video was censored — while Vox’s “The Racist History of U.S. Immigration History” was not.
Conservative commentator and comedian Steven Crowder of CRTV, who has over two million YouTube subscribers, has also expressed the same kind of concerns in the past. In 2016, his entire channel was put into restricted …