Social Scientist Warns Climate Misinformation Is Rampant On YouTube

From its inception to the internet giant that it has become today, YouTube has evolved from being a mere video-sharing website to a sort of jack-of-all-trades for anything and everything under the sun, for better or worse.

Hosting millions upon millions of videos and creator content made for everyone to consume, anyone can just look up anything and get a result in one way or another. Most of the time, this can lead to fun discoveries such as a new content creator that might interest you or a new topic you never knew you’d like.

However, it can also be a double-edged sword, what with the website’s shaky algorithm.  Per a social scientist, misinformation about climate change is widespread on the website, thanks to a number of conspiracy theorists that have hijacked climate-related terms.

According to Joachim Allgaier of RWTH Aachen University in Germany, YouTube is probably the most damaging out of all the social websites that sport the same type of problem, particularly Facebook and Twitter.

Per Allgaier, he discovered this after initially looking for science-themed music videos. Of course, he managed to get those results and even admired all of the creativity. However, he also saw a high number of videos that are attacking credible science facts, particularly ones that state how human activity is largely contributing to climate change. The safety of vaccines and chemotherapy has been questioned as well.

After this, he then searched for more climate-related terms, and so more videos that attempted to question well-known scientific facts. Out of this, the ones about climate change are the ones that have the most videos.

According to him, this could be very damaging since YouTube says that it reaches roughly 2 billion users at a monthly basis. This translates to a third of all current internet users from all over the world, making YouTube a very effective and powerful tool to communicate ideas to people.

Allgaier said that to help combat this, more effort needs to be done by the scientific community as well as look for other ways to make their information easier to digest and grasp.

YouTube logo A new survey finds that most facial plastic surgeons have used YouTube to help educate themselves on new surgical techniques. Esther Vargas, CC BY-2.0