PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — In the wake of the Parkland High School massacre, social networks continue to struggle with the spread of fake news and hoax content.
Facebook and YouTube are facing criticism after conspiracy videos that falsely claim a Parkland shooting survivor was a “crisis actor” began to trend on both sites.
Issie Lapowsky, senior writer for Wired, tells “CBS This Morning” there were a few ways YouTube’s moderation system broke down.
“Basically, this video was a clip of David Hogg speaking to a local news affiliate years ago about an incident he saw on the beach. YouTube’s algorithm looks at that and says, ‘OK this is a legitimate news source,’ then they look at the caption to the video. The caption said ‘David Hogg the actor,'” Lapowsky explained. “Well there’s nothing inherently harassing about those words; for some people that’s a fact, for some that’s a compliment. YouTube’s algorithm don’t have all the context to know that, in fact, David Hogg is the survivor of a school shooting”
The trending video had more than 200,000 views on YouTube before it was removed on Wednesday for violating its policy.
“It’s not against the rules to post something untrue, as we always hear these companies say they don’t want to be the arbiters of truth, but YouTube, at least, has decided that if you are playing a hoax on a victim of a tragedy, that’s very clearly harassment,” Lapowsky said.
To help combat the spread of “fake news” and conspiracy videos, both platforms say they plan to hire thousands of human moderators.
“They need to think through engagement vs. fact. They need to think through what is the real public service that these trending tools are providing. They created them with good intentions,” said Lapowsky. “These are not bad people, they created them because they thought, ‘OK, if Facebook, if YouTube are the new way that people are getting their news today, we can have something akin to the front page,’ and that becomes this trending section. But if they’re unable to police that because of the sheer volume of content out there, then they have to ask themselves whether it’s responsible to let these features to continue to exist.”
In an effort to shield some of the survivors from online harassment over their support of gun control, Twitter began verifying some of their accounts.