YouTube will include Wikipedia info next to videos promoting conspiracy theories

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
  • YouTube is teaming up with Wikipedia to combat conspiracy theories by linking Wikipedia pages to videos that contain conspiracy-related materials.
  • YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki spoke on a South by Southwest (SXSW) panel detailing how the “information cues” would operate.
  • The information cues would appear right below the video with a separate link to the full Wikipedia page.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced a partnership with online encyclopedia Wikipedia on Tuesday, a step that the Google-owned video website hopes will help combat the flood of videos promoting false conspiracy theories that have plagued its service.

The partnership will add background information provided by Wikipedia to certain videos on YouTube, Wojcicki said during a panel at the South by Southwest tech and music festival in Austin.

Wojcicki did not disclose the number or type of conspiracy theories that will be focused upon, though the 1969 Apollo moon landing, a popular subject of baseless conspiracy theories, is referenced in the presentation.

The effort will involve text boxes, dubbed “information cues,”accompanying YouTube videos taken from the Wikipedia pages of well-known conspiracy theories. A separate link to the full page will also be included.

The move comes shortly after YouTube was criticised for promoting videos in the “trending” section of its site that claimed one of the survivors of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida was a paid actor.

Wikipedia was apparently unaware of the plan, with a Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson telling Gizmodo “we are always happy to see people, companies, and organisations recognise Wikipedia’s value as a repository of free knowledge. In this case, neither Wikipedia nor the Wikimedia Foundation are part of a formal partnership with YouTube. We were not given advance notice of the announcement.”

The changes are expected to roll out within a couple of weeks.